What is a backup?

An extra copy of data, systems, or other electronic information, made in case the original is lost or damanaged.

Backups and retention

Backups should only be considered disaster recovery tools.  Backups are not meant to preserve records for retention purposes.  Records must be held in live/online or near online storage for their retention periods, not in backup locations.

Additionally, backups have no retention requirements. They can be created and replaced as determined by the agency. (See Backups for Disaster Preparedness/Recovery (GS 14011) on the State General Government Records Retention Schedule).

Backups may be involved in legal holds or public records requests; however, this is the decision of the Public Records Office and/or the legal counsel for the agency.  IT staff may be asked to pull or preserve backups for these purposes.


Washington State Archives Advice Sheet: How Long Do Backups Need to be Kept?