Students Staff

How do I archive documents?

Archiving paper documents

Archiving is where we intend to keep an item forever. This is normally because it has ongoing legal, business or historical value. We don't keep items forever just in case they might be useful one day or because we can't find time to get rid of them. Documents - both paper and electronic - cost money to store. There is some information that we certainly should not be keeping for long periods of time, especially personal information.

Paper has a reasonable life expectation. You can help it live longer.

  • Select the best copy you have (or print or photocopy to make a better copy).
  • Remove paperclips, elastic bands and plastic pockets as they will all damage the paper in the end.
  • Weed out large numbers of duplicates, sticky notes, and anything that doesn’t need to be kept (e.g. keep final versions of minutes but not drafts and handwritten notes that have been filed with them)
  • Use a folder or box of suitable size and do not overfill it.
  • If you can use acid free paper, wallets or folders, so much the better.
  • If at all possible, store away from direct heat, light and damp.

It’s also a good idea to label folders or boxes clearly to say what is in them, the dates covered, and either the time they need to be thrown away or a clear note that they are not to be thrown away.

If possible, write the label directly on to the body of the box or folder. The glue on paper labels doesn't last forever and such labels have a habit of peeling off after a while. When you're tidying your files always refresh the labelling as soon as it starts to fade. Look at our Organising Information page for help on the best wording for folders.

Example labels:
Council Papers, 1987-1992. DO NOT DESTROY.
Maths Department. Budget, 2009/10. Destroy September 2016.

Unfortunately the Governance Office does not have storage or archive space to offer.

Archiving electronic records

Electronic records have a shorter life than paper. If you have favourite films on video at home and no video player, music cassettes you can no longer listen to, or floppy disks in the back of your desk at work you’ll understand the problem.

Data stored on central University systems has a long life and care is taken to ensure that when systems are updated no data is becomes inaccessible. Use shared drives and folders rather than personal folders to ensure that the records remain accessible if you leave your role. Make sure the folder name is clear about the content, and consider including the destruction date (if there is one) or mote that the documents should not be destroyed.

Do not use removable media for archiving. If you are keeping records for a short period of time then CD or DVD is best. Label the disks clearly, keep them in their cases. Store them flat in a cool, dry, dark area. Avoid handling them too often.

Example folder names:
Council Papers, 2002 2003. DO NOT DESTROY.
Contracts 2012. Destroy 2017.

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