We are all aware of how critical email is to a business, but its popularity is resulting in massively increasing data volumes that are reaching almost unmanageable proportions. In fact, according to the Email Statistics Report-2011-2015 by the Radicati Group, an average business user is expected to send/receive 120 emails per day in 2014 and 125 in 2015. The same source says that 144.8 billion emails are sent per day, out of which 89 billion are business emails.

Emails are important, not only for the ease and speed at which they are delivered – making communication efficient and global, but also for their ability to maintain an audit trail for compliance purposes. It therefore goes without saying that businesses should have some kind of process to enable them to store emails and retrieve them when needed.

The Options

Organisations currently face two well established choices for managing emails – email backup and archiving. The key challenge for an organisation is to understand which process is best for their size and type of business. Email backup is a process in which all emails per user are backed up, either on a server in the organisation, or offsite – on an incremental basis. Email archiving is when emails are indexed and archived using specific programmes. Again they can be stored in-house, or offsite using cloud-based solutions.

How Effective Is An Email Backup Process?

For a small business that does not have many email accounts, an email backup process will adequately serve its needs. However, as emails increase, organisations will find that storage becomes an issue and a growing headache. Most organisations employ counter measures such as limiting the sizes of mailboxes, to avoid constraints on server resources. However, even assuming users delete unwanted messages, organisations will still be backing up loads of emails – on a regular basis.

Also, searching through backed up emails is a laborious, manual process involving filtering through thousands of emails to find the correct file. Worryingly, emails that are backed up can be edited and even deleted. If data needs to be kept on record for data protection reasons, this is not a solution for retrieving old emails, as backups are rarely retained for more than 14 days. This may not be the right option for compliance requirements, as backups require a fixed retention period.

This means that just relying solely on a backup solution may not be effective for most businesses as it will prove to be resource-heavy, expensive and, from a non-compliance perspective, potentially damaging.

Email Archiving

Unlike email backups, an archiving system isn’t backing up emails per se, instead it extracts the contents and attachments of emails, indexes them, and stores them in a read-only format. Whether an email is hosted on premise, within an organisation, or hosted by a third party, all incoming and outgoing emails are sent to the archiving system – which is usually hosted by a third party cloud provider.

Here a six reasons to archive email:

  1. The archiving process deals with the original email, not a copy. Once archived, the message is saved in a read-only format which cannot be altered in any way or deleted. In the event of any legal proceedings, it’s crucial for organisations to demonstrate that data hasn’t been changed, and is preserved in a ‘defensible state’.
  2. Emails can be restored from the archive – if necessary.
  3. The search and retrieval process is far less complicated for an archive system, as all messages are stored within a single repository and indexed. Users can search for emails usually with a simple web interface.
  4. The data is stored in a non-production environment so storage costs are greatly reduced.
  5. The data is independent of file types so the information can be retrieved, regardless of what email client or office application is being utilised by your users at the present time.
  6. Transferring emails to the archive location reduces the workload of the production email server which improves productivity and efficiency for the live environment.