Email Archiving: A Necessary Business Function
Email has become the predominant written communication medium for most businesses in the U.S. Just ask the Post Office, as they have lost huge chunks of mail revenue over the past couple of decades. A question to ask yourself if you are a business owner is how much of your previous emails over your years in business can you access, access quickly, and search for specific emails?
Whatever your political leanings, revelations from documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA has massive servers keeping copies of almost all email, personal and business, in the countryi. And, even if some have tried as a joke, you cannot call the NSA and ask to get copies of your old emails you are no longer able to find; they will not help.
Why you should be archiving all business emails.
In some cases, archives of business email are required by law. The SEC requires that regulated firms maintain a non-editable, searchable, and secure archive of all emails. If you ever end up in court, sued by a client, customer, vendor, or anyone, the court can and often does compel that the business turns over emails pertinent to the court action.
One law firm learned this the hard way when they had to pay a $1.2 million fine in a lawsuit when they were unable to produce emails required by the court. No matter how honest you are, how careful you are in business, or how well you treat customers, there are a lot of hungry lawyers out there.
Backing Up is not Archiving
Sure, you may have backups of all your data, even automated backups stored locally or online. However, the formatting of a backup file is not friendly for searching and retrieval of data. An archive is the opposite, well-organized and easy to search and retrieve old emails. Having tens of thousands of emails saved over many years is useless if you cannot search with keywords and phrases to find the one you need.
Email Archiving Best Practices
With the massive number of emails, a business sends and receives every year, it is critical that an email archival system be efficient, cost effective, and easy to useii. Employees should find it easy to access, fast to search, and accurate in email retrieval. Storage/archiving should be automated, requiring little or no monitoring or active management.
As the necessity to locate past emails often is related to legal action, it is critical that all the meta data be archived accurately. This means times and dates sent and received, senders and recipients, etc. Should a court require it, the business should be able to demonstrate the accuracy of the data and a chain of custody that precludes outside interference or changes.
Security is important, as a court may require proof that the data is not subject to hacking or outside penetration of the archive system. Encryption is highly recommended. The encryption should be end-to-end if you are sending the data offsite or over a network or the Internet.
Onsite or Cloud Email Archiving
As the availability has grown and the costs of bandwidth and cloud storage have decreased, more businesses are choosing cloud email archive solutions over onsite software and hardware solutions. Organizations with years of onsite archives will incur costs to migrate records to cloud storage, but over time it should pay back in efficiency and user friendliness.
The key is to consult with an expert in Information Technology and cloud storage solutions. Once you make the transition, your future email archival system should serve you well.
i Email Archiving: NSA Has Copies of All Your Emails, Why Don’t You? – Intradyn.com
ii Email Archiving – ProofPoint.com