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How many years do you hold onto customer print files?

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  • How many years do you hold onto customer print files?

    how long do you guys hold onto print files? We have about 2 terabytes from the past 5 years. We are considering a time limit from 3 to 5 years.
    What are your standards?

  • #2
    We hold onto them forever, though we do not have anywhere near the same amount of files as you do. We are under 1 tb. I am a pack rat when it comes to digital stuff, so keep it all. Hard drives are pretty cheap, if space is an issue why not move all the old files to a hard drive and put it away somewhere for "just in case"? Hard drives are cheap these days.

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    • #3
      We just archive everything (used to be tape, but the last 4 years on externals)
      Use about 2tb every 2years or so (rotating dual 2TB drives for redundancy).

      Side note/Heads up for IT/Geeks : This year I bought 2 - 4TB drives to add on to our 2TB library. Using a USB Drive Toaster for access/swapping. One of our Toasters (VoyagerQ?) does not allow access to drives larger that 2TB...as I found out, but the other one we use (BlacX) does allow using the 4TB drives. Just check your Toaster specs if you are using them...

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      • #4
        DO you have access to those archives at any moment or is it process to hookup the backup to get to older stuff?

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        • #5
          We also keep all files forever. We average ~6000 files a year and our used storage is around 6TB. Storage is so incredibly cheep these days you may as well keep files forever. We store on Drobos using dual redundancy (mixed feelings on the Drobos but overall pretty solid) with multiple copies both on and off site. If we run low on space we simply buy larger drives. This way we can also access any file at any time. No waiting for a tape for hours and no hooking up backups.

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          • #6
            Just picked up a 5TB HDD for $129.99 from Newegg. Honestly, unless you're going through quarter of a terabyte or more per month, I'd just invest in one or two HDD's and call it good.

            Also, Google Drive is a great solution to back up files. $10/TB/Month

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Salvy View Post
              how long do you guys hold onto print files? We have about 2 terabytes from the past 5 years. We are considering a time limit from 3 to 5 years.
              What are your standards?
              What is your definition of "print files"? Are we just talking about the art? Or, do these files contain names and addresses?

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              • #8
                We only keep 3 issues back, 4 at the most but we mainly print time sensitive content.

                Anything else that we may need to keep longer we burn to a disk, this is mostly reply envelopes/cards.

                We receive about 30,000 pages per month.
                Last edited by johnny_jay; 01-29-2015, 02:28 PM. Reason: added pages per month

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                • #9
                  We still have almost any file ever output. We started backing up to MO disks, then to CDs, now to DVD. We are a general purpose print shop, had a few newsletter/magazines through the years, but mostly job work. Our original, and ongoing purpose for archiving was to provide a service to our customers, and a couple have used our archives to restore some of their files after computer issues. We also offer some limited set up services, i.e. address changes for stationery, etc., so having files to "update" is essential. And it is nice to be able to find a logo when you need it (as long as the customer hasn't changed it....).

                  We used to scan with a Kodak Prophecy system, but it was long out of regular use at the time of the last company move, and all tapes were destroyed then. We had restored some files to make tiff files for CD archiving, but didn't get very far, and haven't missed them. So much about design and color preferences had already changed, much of the art/images looked dated even then.

                  We have considered networked storage for long term, but not set up anything yet.

                  However, it is getting difficult to get some of the oldest files to open. Pagemaker files can be opened in InDesign up through CS6, but not the CC versions. Old QuarkXPress files have been problematic for some time with newer versions of Quark (yes, we still use it sometimes). CDs, I was told, have a life expectancy around 10 years, many of ours are at least that old. Purging the archive would probably take more time than just keeping it all sitting around.

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                  • #10
                    So, I guess the main thing is, Why are you keeping them? How far back have you ever really needed to go for a restore? How likely is it that your customer can't provide a new file if needed?

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                    • #11
                      We only store 3 years if not repeated. Too much risk in having old files around as while we may state that client is solely responsible for proofing, we find it much better to state company policy than put client retention at risk doe to their own oversight or should they have dealt with another vendor at some point and forgotten. Kind of like making a policy that graphics is to save rather than save as or that logos are linked rather than placed. We have found these policies have strengthened relationships with the best of our clients. only boarder line clients have ever bulked about it.

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                      • #12
                        We ( I work for Datatech SmartSoft ) develop and market a Print MIS system ( Web-to-Print, MIS and Print Workflow Automation | PressWise ) that runs in the cloud. We keep everything, forever. Our PressWise customers do not pay extra. Their customers can always click on any old order and re-order - they can use the original PDF, or replace that PDF. Storage is inexpensive, especially when it lives in the cloud.
                        Michael Jahn - Slightly used PDF Evangelist
                        Simi Valley California

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                        • #13
                          File Retention time depends on terms of signed contract...

                          The answer for "how long to hold onto print files" depends on the legal terms and conditions of the contract signed between the printer shop and the client. The retention time also depends on the physical format or size of the completed project results. We try to store all projects in a digital format to save storage space... Most other companies printer contracts unfortunately do not cover these areas that need to be covered to legally protect the printer's company...

                          Our State and Federal Tax records are retained in offline storage for an 7 to 10 year period in case of audit or legal concerns. We use this 7 to 10 year retention period as a guideline for retaining DIGITAL only copies of the client's original artwork. Print screens are retained up to 5 years depending on storage requirements and client account needs. NOTE: this digtal storage policy also requires our keeping for 7-10 years the OEM software (and possibly hardware/operating system if required) that could create or modify the digital images.

                          Given the relatively low cost of large capacity hard drives ($50 per TB) , we maintain a central file server that uses backup software to automatically make incremental backups of all files on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis that are cycled into full backups at year's end when the backup drive is replaced at year's end, taken offline, and stored.

                          Using these methods enables us to keep the client happy, keep us in compliance with govt tax regs, and allows us to keep our peace of mind that info we need is not lost ...

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                          • #14
                            Cloud Storage of client files can be dangerous for file retention...

                            If a company chooses to store client data files on the Internet through cloud services, they risk losing control and access to the data they need.

                            Cloud storage of client files can be dangerous due to:
                            1.) data security concerns,
                            2.) data retention policies of the cloud provider,
                            3.) cloud services concerns about customer service,
                            4.) speed of access to needed data files,
                            4.) the price of long-term storage through a 3rd party.

                            I understand that you work for a vendor that tries to sell these cloud services to print shops, but why do you think a print shop should give up control and access to their client files to be maintained by a 3rd party cloud services company?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Salvy View Post
                              DO you have access to those archives at any moment or is it process to hookup the backup to get to older stuff?
                              The "Toaster" he's referring to is an external USB device which allows you to simply plug a "normal" hard drive into it and use it just like a "thumb" drive. So yes, you can pick up a regular (SATA) hard drive, manually slip it into a slot on the device, plug the device into a USB port and read the files in a matter of 30 - 40 seconds?
                              I think they are available for PATA drives too.
                              https://www.amazon.com%2FThermaltake...85076809,d.aWw
                              download.jpg

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