Managing information and records in network drives

Network drives are sometimes used in agencies with limited resources, or as a temporary solution prior to the implementation of a system with greater records management functionality, such as an electronic document records management system (EDRMS).

Network drives do not provide the necessary functions to effectively manage information and records to meet requirements of Australian Government or international standards.

There are steps you can take to improve the management of records in your agency’s network drive, but it requires a systematic approach and significant ongoing support.

Risks of network drives

A network drive is not a records management system

If your agency uses a network drive to manage and store your agency’s business information, there are inherent risks and these need to be identified and managed.

  • records stored in network drives can be easily altered or deleted by anyone who has access to the drive
  • it is difficult demonstrate the authenticity, integrity and trustworthiness of uncontrolled records in network drives
  • metadata is often missing and there are no links between documents and their business context
  • poor management can result in large volumes of uncontrolled information which is difficult to manage and takes up network space
  • it can be difficult to find relevant records, posing a reputational risk
  • it can be difficult identify the status or version of information

There may be other risks specific to your agency and its business, and you should identify and assess these. Following a risk assessment you may decide that it is not acceptable to continue to store information and records in network drives.

Reducing the risks

You can reduce the risks of managing information and records in network drives by:

  • establishing an information governance framework
  • supporting your agency’s staff and providing training for them
  • developing tools, guidelines, and procedures such as an agreed folder structure and conventions for naming folders and documents.

Monitoring and ongoing management of network drives

Actively managing information and records in your network drive is the key to meeting information and records management requirements. Some ongoing tasks include:

  • reinforce rules for managing folders by monitoring structure and naming conventions and correcting errors.
  • establish an ongoing training schedule to support all staff in your agency to develop and improve their skills
  • communicate with staff regularly.
  • review procedures regularly to ensure they are adequate and are being used appropriately
  • use records authorities to assess how long records need to be kept and plan to ensure they can still be read and do not become technically obsolete
  • dispose of records in a timely fashion and in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 and Protective Security Policy Framework
  • review and update access and security controls to ensure they continue to meet the needs of your agency’s business and protect sensitive information and records
  • encourage staff to perform regular ‘clean-ups’ of information in accordance with your agency’s policy
  • work with stakeholders to improve the system and its processes.
  • consider whether the network drives meet the ongoing requirements for information and records management, and develop a plan to upgrade the system.

If you need further assistance or advice contact the Archives’ Agency Service Centre

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019