Cleaning Up Before You Move On

October 26, 2016  |  Bob Covello

Have you changed jobs recently? Are you planning to move on to a new challenge? Maybe you are simply one of the lucky folks who have reached retirement and can now move on to freedom from “the grind”.

In this fast-paced world, it seems that many people frequently change jobs, or move on. It is always a bitter-sweet event when people leave, as there are usually friendships that are formed during the course of a person’s employment, and many memories created.

One of the things most people do when they exit a job is to clean out their desk, office, cubicle, or whatever space they occupied during their employment. Many years ago when I was a truck driver, I was amazed how many personal items I had in my van that I had to retrieve on my last day. The amount of personal items that we bring to our office job is even more daunting, usually requiring a couple of large boxes to pack up to take to our next adventure.

Some folks believe that they can help by cleaning up their digital footprints as well. They delete all their Email, their files, and all the other bits of their computerized life at the office. Why they do it is a mystery.

If you are a negative thinker, you may surmise that people delete their data out of spite, or perhaps to cover their tracks. If you are a positive thinker, you may think that people delete their data so their employer can regain that valuable storage space which has been cluttered by their work.

Either way, deleting your work files is a wasted effort. Just as your social media trail can never truly be removed from the internet, your files can never truly be removed from your corporate systems.

One of the simplest ways to demonstrate this is to open a network folder in Windows Explorer and right click on it. If you choose “Properties” from the drop-down menu, you will be presented with a window including a tab labelled “Previous versions” that will show all of the times that a particular folder has been backed up as dictated by your system administrator. If you click on any of those earlier versions, your folder will be transported back in time. PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS! If you do and your sysadmin asks why you did it as he restores your current copy, please do not say “Covello told me to do it”. Tell them that Javvad Malik told you to do it.

Not only are your files available for restoration from the restore points shown in that window, but they are also probably stored on backup disks and possibly remote offline disks and tapes as well.

If your data is stored in the Cloud, there could be multiple backups in multiple locations around the world, depending on how your cloud architect and cloud administrator have chosen to configure backups.

If deleted, all of the information you created on you company’s systems is easily reconstructed just as it was prior to your departure.

Good luck on your next adventure!

On your way out, be a dear and clean up your desk. Perhaps you can go the extra mile and grab a small hand vacuum and clean out the drawers, but don’t waste your time trying to erase your digital existence, as it is an impossible task, recoverable before your elevator reaches the lobby.

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