Email has become an integral part of the business world today, yet many companies are still wondering “why archive email?” The fact is that email growth has created significant security issues as well as storage problems as companies rely more heavily on email for critical business transactions. As an e-discovery company, Advanced Discovery is aware of the research by Osterman that found a large number of business email users store more than half of their critical information within the messaging system itself, often in personal archives that are not backed up nor easily searched at the enterprise level. Courts now consider email correspondence a record, making email subject to retention as determined by statutes. Email archiving is a systematic approach to preserving email messages in a centralized location so they can be quickly accessed at a later date.
During e-discovery, an organization can be required to produce emails related to the case no matter how many years prior the email was generated. Unfortunately, emails can be stored on virtually any type of media used by the company. Employees can store them on PDA’s, desktop or laptops, or they may be stored on special servers. The problem is that searching every device that exists in the company can be costly, and courts have ruled that the party required to provide the e-discovery may have to do so without reimbursement. Therefore, another reason why to archive emails in a centralized location is to allow access to the data quickly and more efficiently than storing it randomly in various locations In addition, email archive systems typically include the capability to index and search, and also provide logs for authenticity and chain of custody.
Even if a company is not facing litigation, there are compliance regulations that may force a company to be more stringent in archiving email. Any record that pertains to a business’s activity is subject to compliance, and some industries are more regulated than others. Compliance requires that data be retained in its original state, without alteration or deletion. In addition, compliance statutes require that data, including email, must be protected from security threats that could damage or endanger the information. Data must also be easily accessible whenever required. Email archiving stores messages in their original format. Some systems use rules to classify which emails require archiving, and can automatically delete messages when the statutory period expires.
Two Methods for Archiving Email
Companies that are asking “why archive email?” are also asking “how do I archive email?” There are two main methods for archiving email – an in-house solution or a hosted solution through a third party. An in-house solution archives emails on a server located within the company. Because the company’s own employees handle the archived documents, there is better control over data integrity and confidentiality. However, in-house systems can be very expensive and can put significant pressure on an organization’s IT department. Hosted solutions have much lower costs, but some confidentiality is lost since outside parties are responsible for handling the information. Most vendors, however, offer significant security measures that make confidentiality problems less significant.
Email correspondence is considered by the courts as a record of your company’s business transactions. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a quality email archive program to insure that your company meets compliance statutes and will be prepared should it face litigation. If you need assistance on how to properly archive email in order to prepare for discovery, call Advanced Discovery (866) 560-5898 or visit the Contact Us section of our website.