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Destruction of significant, unique objects from a file share is rarely the first step in the destruction phase of the life cycle of the record. Usually the process of elimination from deduplication to significant, unique object deletion is multi-faceted.

Here is one way your company might approach a few of the decisions.

Duplicate Objects

Configure your simple tool that exports metadata reports from the file share to also provide duplicate objects reports. Once run, the resulting text or Excel file contains metadata that is the typical, standard set you see in Windows Explorer.

These duplicate object reports are more formatted however. Each object name and its extension are listed first, then however many file paths that the object name appears in immediately follows in the row(s) below the name and extension. The result: a cluster of breadcrumb trails.

The original object creator or security identifier (SID) is attributed as the owner of the object. The original owner -- this detail is important because:

  1. you can’t tell how many custodians (if any) have edited that object in that path since the creation date, and
  2. you gain insight into the different owners of the same object within one cluster -- especially if the dates are progressive. If the dates are the same, then you can at least infer that the date was a significant moment in the life of the project

Prior to the 15-minute review with the object owner/custodian, highlight the objects that belong to the person with whom you’re sitting. Visualizing the clusters’ metadata can be enormously helpful for you both. Because the objects may be up to a decade old, the visualizations prompt a memory for the more tenured employees.

Encourage them to look at their list in the moment and check off the object(s) that can be deleted per cluster. Once you have all the checkmarks, pull the file paths and summarize them in one sheet. Hand the sheet over to the Infrastructure Services team to run the script against the server.

Significant, Unique Objects

Review the objects of every current employee on each team. Teams should be identified in progressive order from technical to administrative. Devote six weeks to each team’s destruction phase. Tasks within the phase typically include (not necessarily in order):

  • Statistical analysis (including duplicates and lists of total objects per unique, current ADID)
  • Presentation to the team Director to introduce the project and begin deduplication interviews
  • A kickoff meeting with the team’s administrative professional to schedule deduplication interviews (mentioned above)
  • The deduplication meetings
  • A first version of the destination folder structure
  • Presentation of the version one folder structure to the Director for constructive criticism
  • Automated deletion of duplicates
  • SIDs identification
  • Final folder structure defined and implemented on the destination file share
  • Objects mapped to final folder destination
  • Determine the three choices: keep, move or deletion of significant, unique objects
  • Move or deletion of significant, unique objects automated by Infrastructure Services
  • Regular communication with object creators/custodians
  • Information security permissions created and applied to new folder structure
  • Governance plan and training sessions
  • Team close out

Keep, Move, Delete... or Archive?

Reconciling SIDs to existing teams to make directors comfortable with the keep/move/delete choice is a particularly interesting task.

On the one hand, we have an abandoned objects policy that authorizes IT to make the archival decisions. However, the business unit must have a voice as well. The tentative cord between the two parties can be strengthened if you also reconcile SIDs to truncated, current folder paths.

Where ADIDs file, and SIDs did too, you can guestimate that the SID was once on that team. But only perform the reconciliation within a certain date range -- if you decide to archive everything from 2011 back, you need only reconcile the objects from 2012 forward.

Lessons Learned

This reconciliation requires a terrific level of effort on your part if you depend on Excel only. The simple tool is going to create tables that your database technician can access and manipulate in minutes as opposed to hours.

Ideally, you will have an SQL database technician on the Infrastructure Services team who is keen, opinionated and experienced. You want someone to challenge your approaches and ideas. Listen closely to them as each team runs through its phase.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  Yandle