Why Not Just Retain Everything In Slack?

| August 30 2022

Remember the early days of email when there was such a thing as a clean and organized inbox? I remember I would even create separate folders and organize my messages according to themes. And then at some point, that effort stopped, because the number of messages to manage was just too overwhelming.

Now, we’ve gotten used to never deleting anything, because email has become a searchable personal data repository of sorts, not only for messages but also for the documents attached to those messages. 

Now that Slack and other collaboration tools are taking the place of email, will this habit of keeping everything stick?

From an ediscovery standpoint, the idea of broadly preserving data for defensibility, and then narrowly collecting it for review is a good practice. And yes, left to its own devices, Slack will retain all messages and files—including attachments—indefinitely, for as long as your workspace exists. Users of the free version of Slack can only access their most recent 10,000 messages, but all other users can retain everything forever if they wish.

But just because you can retain data forever doesn’t mean you should. Most estimates say that 50% or more of enterprise data is ROT: Redundant, Obsolete, or Trivial.

Deleting ROT Data can: 

  • Reduce data storage costs
  • Limit the damages associated with a potential data breach or cybersecurity incident 
  • Maintain speed and efficiency in computer systems, which can become overburdened with unnecessary data 
  • Save time and stress when searching through useless stores of extraneous data
  • Reduce legal risk and cost when it comes to ediscovery, should litigation arise

Instead, organizations should only keep data that is necessary or useful. That may include data that is required or helpful to: 

  • Maintain legal or regulatory compliance and respond to regulatory inquiries, 
  • Defend the organization against legal claims, 
  • Establish ownership of the organization’s intellectual property when faced with potential theft or misattribution, 
  • Onboard new personnel and bring them up to speed on projects, and
  • Learn from past projects and establish a store of institutional knowledge.

So how can you clean out the ROT data in your Slack application?

First, by setting a retention period in the application. Slack will delete messages and files daily as they age out beyond the chosen timeline with a retention schedule. Note that message and file deletion are permanent, so change your retention settings with care. 

Then, you should consider investing in a tool that allows you to scope Slack channels and custodians, as these environments have mindboggling numbers of channels, making identifying what you need to collect a nightmare.

With this pre-collection intelligence, legal teams can see which channels are associated with which custodians and figure out what needs to be collected for review, while leaving out the channels full of vacation photos, memes, and three-year-old March Madness brackets. Sure, these are great for breaking up the day and connecting with the team, but when it comes to ediscovery, they’re nothing but ROT.


Want to learn more about ediscovery best practices around Slack?

Download The Guide to Slack Data Preservation!



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