A long-term data-storage policy and procedures plan is crucial if your company develops software for internal use or for customers. Old code may be reused or studied, so it makes sense to keep it. Detailed sales records, customer data and other information can be used for analyzing trends, and archived company communication can pay off if you find yourself involved in a patent dispute (it can prove the code was written internally). On the other hand, you can save your company unnecessary legal problems and costs by deleting nonbusiness, or even some business, e-mail correspondence that isn't protected by law.
For the technology part of your plan, you need a simple way to locate and correlate data on a tape or CD. So choose a lookup system, such as a document-management system, with automated or report-based alerts that let you know when data has expired and can be deleted based on your storage policies.
In addition, make sure you set up a budget for long-term data storage, which should include the cost of converting old digital formats to newer ones, whether that task is performed in-house or is outsourced. Don't forget to factor in maintenance for machinery--like tape drives that read your older digital formats once you've converted them.
The Hard(ware) Part