Electronic documents are files or registered information in databases, such as office documents and collections of files on various drives, messages in email systems, information published on websites, etc. Even email server log files and visited websites are public documents that must be preserved. The same laws and regulations apply to both electronic and paper documents, but the conditions for managing and archiving electronic documents are different.
In the future, electronic materials will be transferred to a shared e-archive, but it is important to protect and properly manage materials before they are even transferred to the e-archive.
To ensure proper preservation of your electronic documents you need to take into account how and in what format they shall be stored. They need to be protected from disappearing or altering, and they need to be saved in a format so that they can be read even after a long period of time. Some documents also need to be protected from unauthorised access.
In order to make documents searchable in the future, it is important to remember that you, if possible, provide them with the correct metadata (this could be information that is registered in a system, features of office documents or other information that can be linked to the documents).
Shortcuts to the various contents on the page – for all staff:
- Protect your electronic documents from unauthorised access
- Store the electronic documents in a secure way
- Choose the correct digital format
- About metadata
- About electronic documents as originals
- Disposing of electronic documents
- Archiving electronic documents
Shortcuts to the various contents on the page – for system managers:
For all staff
If the documents are confidential or have other access restrictions, it is important to ensure that they are stored and transferred so that others cannot access them. Documents that are in the system can be protected by limiting user access privileges to the documents. The same applies to documents located on your own computer or on a shared drive. Make sure that unauthorised persons do not have access to these.
Learn more about information security at Lund University in these guidelines:
To secure the storage of electronic materials before they are transferred to the e-archive, the following procedures apply:
- Documents and information in an operational system must be preserved in the system.
- Documents in the form of independent files or databases must be kept on a server managed by an operating organisation where backups are made regularly.
- Common directories and storage areas should not be equated with archives, but can sometimes be used for temporary storage of limited amounts of information.
- CDs and DVDs, USB sticks and portable hard drives should not be used for preserving materials, as these storage mediums vary in quality and longevity. Therefore, well known premium brands shall generally be used rather than unknown, yet significantly cheaper, brands, and are primarily suitable to use as backups or for working materials.
For more questions on storage options, please contact LDC at Lund University.
Also digital information is affected by time. Not least, the software needed to read the information can become difficult to obtain resulting in the information possibly becoming unusable. To create high quality information we, therefore, recommend using an independent file format, such as PDF/A for office documents. For audio, video and image files there are also a number of recommended formats for secure storage. Saving files in the proper format right from the start also simplifies future transfers to an e-archive.
When information is stored in a database, it is even more important to make sure that the information is still readable when needed.
Metadata is descriptive data about the documents. This information may be data that you register in an IT system together with the documents (e.g. status, department, type of document), properties of an office document which you can determine (e.g. author, title, tags, comments), or other information that may be linked to the documents.
Remember to fill in all requested information in the IT system and follow the rules on how information is to be registered. When possible, check and fill in the properties for office documents. This way you facilitate subsequent transfer to the e-archive and the possibilities of searching and finding the document in the archive increases.
Electronic documents submitted to the University or that are created in electronic form are considered to be originals. The documents recorded in our common document registration system W3D3 do not need to be printed for archiving. For other electronic documents, the decisions are taken on a case by case basis in consultation with archivists at the Records Management and Archives office.
When an electronic document is printed for signing, the printed document is to be regarded as an original.
When disposing of documents, the same rules apply for electronic documents as for paper documents, that is, documents with a short lifespan, such as certain incoming and outgoing emails, faxes, working materials, information, orders, requests, or postings on the website by the public. Such documents can be destroyed at a time deemed appropriate by you.
When it comes to electronic media, the term disposal has an expanded meaning. Not only does it mean to destroy entire or parts of public documents, but also to take measures entailing the loss of meaningful data, possible compilations, search opportunities or the ability to assess the authenticity of documents. For security classified information, it is important to ensure that all information is in fact deleted from the hard drive.
Electronic documents containing sensitive data and/or confidential information (but does not belong to an individual's personal file) shall be registered in W3D3 and then be deleted from the phone, email, social media or computer.
There is an ongoing development of a central e-archive for long-term preservation and archiving. More information about transferring to an e-archive will be published in due course.
For system managers
There is a guide and a list of archive requirements for the proper handling of documents in our IT systems. These requirements are also relevant and need to be taken into account when procuring and developing IT systems.
Work to develop preservation plans for each IT system will commence to secure the long-term preservation of electronic documents created and stored in our IT systems. This work will be carried out in consultation with the system managers and archive staff. The preservation plan must include details on how to archive and export information from the system when the information becomes outdated, or when the system is to be phased out, among other things. The plan must also contain information on how to handle information security and the archive requirements of the system.
Anything a public authority publishes on their website is considered public records. Public authority websites, both public and internal, are therefore to be managed according to the same laws as other public documents. This means that public authorities must preserve their websites because they, like other public records, are part of the authority's archive. Read about the published online guidelines (from DIGG, Agency for Digital Government) for public authorities here:
For questions regarding the e-archive or interest in archiving electronic information contact:
universitetsarkivet [at] legal [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 16 70
For more detailed questions regarding electronic preservaton contact:
gun [dot] norrback [at] legal [dot] lu [dot] se
madelene [dot] svensson [at] legal [dot] lu [dot] se