Records Destruction

There are records for which there is no legal, fiscal, academic, administrative or historical retention requirement and those records should be authorized for destruction by the senior administrator of each administrative or academic office of origin. It is recommended that such records be disposed of as early as the end of the active phase of their life cycle. Digital or electronic records for which there is no retention requirement, such as e-mail not meeting the criteria of a record, should be deleted promptly. Similarly, records that are duplicates should be disposed of as early as practical, unless retention guidelines indicate otherwise. Lastly, when records have reached the conclusion of their retention period the senior administrator of each administrative or academic office will authorize their destruction. It is important to purge records at the end of the required retention period, unless a legal hold notice is in effect.

Destruction of Paper Records

For records destruction, Princeton contracts with Shred-It (formerly Cintas), which provides confidential records destruction for departments needing regular shredding services or one-time, backlog shredding. For price quotes and to arrange shredding services, departments may contact Shred-It directly, at 888-750-6450. Departments are responsible for paying for their own records destruction.

Please keep a record of the records that you destroy, noting the types of records, date ranges, and the date the records were destroyed. Most departments find it useful to create a spreadsheet or word-processed document in which they can record this information. The receipt from Shred-It will not indicate which specific records have been destroyed; rather it will indicate the amount of records (in pounds or number of containers) and the date. Keeping a detailed record of what you destroy will provide evidence of consistent records management and will inform department staff regarding what they can expect to find in the records that are in the department's active filing system.

Offices should authorize destruction of records in ways commensurate with their confidentiality and with methods which do not permit recovery, reconstruction and future use of confidential information. For example: 

Paper records containing information that is restricted, confidential, or unrestricted within Princeton (as defined in Princeton's Information Security Policy) must be shredded, not thrown out or recycled. 

For departments with regular but small shredding needs it often makes sense to purchase a shredder that creates particles, not strips of paper (a cross-cut shredder usually provides a sufficient level of destruction).

Destruction of Digital Records 

Electronic or machine readable records containing confidential information require a two-step process for assured, confidential destruction. First, delete the contents of the electronic file on your computer, then empty the trash/recycle bin/deleted items. This satisfies the definition of confidential destruction. However, when you trade-in or purchase a replacement computer, it is necessary to remove all data from your hard drive. Please ask your systems support specialist for assistance. 

Film, audio, recording and videotapes containing confidential information should be physically destroyed, not thrown away. It is possible to overwrite audio and videotapes with other, non-confidential sound and images, but if this is done, it is recommended that it be done by an authorized member of the staff in the office of origin or OIT staff.