Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Patrick O'Neal
on April 25, 2017

Last month’s announcement that Vault now supports Google Drive finally recognizes that G Suite users keep information in more places than their inbox, yet many school districts still focus their attention on archiving just email communications. 

When it comes to backing up and archiving Google Drive or its competitor, Microsoft OneDrive, the good news is that there are plenty of similarities to email as you move beyond the inbox.

Compliance and the court

Drive files are considered electronically stored information (ESI), and during litigation, a judge will expect you to produce documents, spreadsheets and other files that aren’t native to Google. When you’re not able to provide information or data to the courts, there’s legal precedent that can lead to fines, other penalties and even to sway a final ruling. Timing is critical here as well, and that’s where a third-party archive solution can make a difference with the ability to support the discovery process, retrieve specific data and get it in the hands of your legal counsel.

In addition, by archiving all of your students’ data, you’ll be able to investigate the incident with a full revision history. So if a teacher has any concerns about cheating, or perhaps you’re investigating bullying behaviors, you can search and retrieve information in more than just email.

Backup ≠ Archiving

It doesn’t matter who you are, how big or small your school or district. Mistakes happen. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: A backup is not an archive, but an archive can be a backup.

Whether it’s an administrator who accidently wiped something out or a user who deleted an individual file, you’ll inevitably need to reproduce Drive files. You might also find yourself in a situation when an employee leaves and decides to change or alter content. With version history in your archive, these certain backup processes will be much easier.  

The key here is control. If you retain everything only in file storage, you’ll need to manage recovery manually. With a third-party archive, you can set plenty of controls, whether for retention policies or creating custom rules in place beforehand. By using a third-party archiving vendor, you’re allowing someone else to do most of the work while reaping all of the benefits.

Finally, both Google and Microsoft are providing large—if not unlimited—file storage limits. We’ve seen these limits change in the past. The last thing you want to happen is that you have X GB of space today and then tomorrow you have less. If you’re using a third-party archive, then you already have an affordable way to back everything up without worrying about fluctuating storage limits. And if you ever need to or want to migrate to a different email system, you’re well on your way with email and Drive files in a third-party archive.

While the Google announcement clearly is a positive step for school districts that depend on Vault, there are still some shortcomings, including not supporting PDFs, images and other files not native to Google, which should lead you to consider a third-party archive solution.

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