University of Vermont

Information Technology

Backup Tapes To Be Kept for 25 Months

For many years, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) has stored backup tapes for most of our main IT systems for a full 7 years after creating them. We are planning to change this practice and reduce the time tapes are kept to 25 months.

This change only affects backup tapes; it does not affect online email, files, folders, or the online content of information systems such as Banner and PeopleSoft.

After discussing our current 7-year retention practice with our auditors and compliance officer, it is clear that backups should be used for business continuity, not retention. Data retention should be accomplished in the system of record (i.e. within Peoplesoft, Banner, etc...) or via some other documented method.

In addition to inadvertently retaining information much longer than required for individual business areas, the 7-year backup retention is very expensive in both tape costs and secured storage vaults. Keeping backups for 7 years requires us to store thousands of tapes in a highly secure and environmentally controlled environment. For the University to manage these costs, we need to reduce the length of time we keep these backups.  We are running out of space to store tapes and would need a sizable investment to increase the storage capacity. It also requires us to keep old tape drives, servers, and software available so we can recover the old tapes.

This message is to make sure you understand that the backups are performed for business continuity, not archival or retention, purposes and that you should have archival and retention procedures that match the requirements of your particular business area -- something we can't do with a single practice for all our enterprise systems.

If you feel this change in procedure will affect your ability to meet UVM's retention requirements, please let us know as soon as possible by emailing 

If we don't hear of any significant problems with this change, ETS will proceed with reducing our retention to 25 months starting shortly after June 10, 2013.

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