Storing Electronic Records
Electronic records — for example, records stored on a computer drive, on a CD, or on a DVD, whether scanned or created electronically — are subject to the same regulations and retention periods as paper records.
They must meet the test of being a "record" and they must be trustworthy, complete, legally admissible in court and durable for the same amount of time required by the UC Disposition Schedules Manual.
However, electronic records provide some unique challenges. Here are a few things to consider:
- Misfiling electronic documents is potentially disastrous. This is usually a result of poor naming conventions or a badly designed indexing system.
- File formats can become obsolete quickly. Communicate with your IT department when developing your strategy for storing, converting and disposing of electronic records.
- Electronic documents are easier to alter than paper records for fraudulent purposes. Ask your IT department for help with electronic security measures you can take such as version-control or PDFs.
- Storing electronic documents can be more costly than storing paper documents — if you don't have a lot of records, since hardware, software, maintenance and staff costs can add up.
Electronic records can provide cost savings in terms of space. Electronic files are quick and easy to access, especially if care has been taken in the process of developing naming conventions and standard indexing formats.
Even paper and other hard copy media documents can be converted to electronic records by scanning, indexing and saving them as images.
Storage time is listed in the UC Retention Schedule. Whether you choose to store records locally or at an off-site location, you need to consider:
- Security. UCLA is diligent in its efforts to protect personal privacy. Your IT department must be involved in developing your electronic records strategy to prevent record breaches or loss of data.
- Labeling. It is important to mark the storage container to identify the type of record, the creation date and possible destruction date. Use quality labels and permanent markers.
- Paper vs. Electronic. UCLA has contracts with vendors that provide records storage and destruction services. You may also scan your paper documents into electronic images to save space and money.
- Destruction. Electronic records must be destroyed in accordance with the University's records retention policies. Consult with your IT staff to determine the best way to completely remove them.
Like paper records, some electronic documents may have historical value to the University. These types of documents should be sent to University Archives.