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Storage Smarts

Data retention can be a major gray area for growing businesses. Your data is your life-blood, whether it's employee information, customer payment numbers, internal files or the reams of e-mails you send and receive.

This story appears in the March 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

There aren't a lot of hard and fast rules for entrepreneurs when it comes to hanging on to . Just be sure that when you destroy it, you destroy it thoroughly.

Every needs to set data retention policies that make sense for it and its industry. For example, if you sell products with a lifetime warranty attached, you may need to retain customer records indefinitely. When it comes to records, The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to keep them for at least three years. should be kept until any chance of an audit has passed; 10 years isn't an unreasonable amount of time.

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