What is Email Archiving? Solutions & How It Works

What is Email Archiving? Solutions & How It Works
Valeriia Dziubenko Valeriia Dziubenko 12 january 2024, 14:22 295
For experts

Billions of people around the world use email for business and everyday purposes. With this massive volume of emails being exchanged every day, inevitably, some of them get permanently deleted and lost, purposely or accidentally.

Email archiving is a systematic process of preserving emails long after they've been sent. It involves storing large amounts of emails and indexing them for easy future retrieval. This article will explain its purpose, how it works, and the primary considerations for choosing an email archiving solution.

What is email archiving?

It is the process of securely preserving emails and their attachments. It involves storing the emails in a safe place and indexing them to make searching and retrieving easy.

Email archiving helps secure vital emails an organization is not currently using but might need in the future. If not, these emails can easily be forgotten and deleted, causing potential problems.

Purposes of email archiving

The aims of email archiving include:

Compliance

In some industries, e.g., banking and federal government contractors, it is mandatory to archive emails in case of future investigations. Affected companies employ email archiving solutions to stay compliant with such regulations.

Security

Regular data backup is a critical part of digital security. Data can get lost at any time due to hacking or human mistakes, causing severe disruption to business operations. If the business hasn’t archived emails and stored them securely, it means they can’t restore emails and continue operating as usual. However, email archiving should be implemented as a dedicated procedure rather than as part of a regular backup routine, due to its specific requirements.

Storage management

Email servers have limited storage capacity. Businesses can archive and move older emails to other locations, freeing up space on the email server to keep things running smoothly.

E-discovery

E-discovery refers to digital investigations wherein companies look for evidence relevant to legal proceedings in business communications. Email archiving makes it easy for companies to find evidence and other critical data bits in their email communications.

The process of email archiving

Email archiving involves moving emails from the original inbox to a separate location where they're stored securely. Individuals and businesses can archive emails they don’t currently need but might need in the future.

Not all emails need to be archived. You don’t want to archive spam and unnecessary promotions, for example. You can choose which emails to archive, selecting only the important ones and weeding out the rest.

Email archiving tools can archive messages automatically according to the rules you set. For instance, some organizations can decide to archive every incoming email, while others can choose to archive only emails coming from specific addresses. You can also select emails for archiving manually.

Vital considerations for choosing an email archiving solution

These are the critical factors to consider when looking for an email archiving solution:

Regulations

What regulations are your organization bound by? For example, in certain countries banks are required to keep all emails for at least 5 years before they can be deleted. In other countries, the retention period is 10 years, with significant fines for violations. In such cases, the bank needs an email archiving solution that can guarantee keeping their emails for the specified period.

Security features

Emails contain sensitive information that can harm your organization if it falls into the wrong hands. Hence, you need an email archiving solution with advanced security features to prevent unauthorized data access.

An ideal solution will utilize advanced encryption protocols to prevent hackers from intercepting emails. For example, ArcTitan encrypts emails resting on its servers with the Department of Defense (DoD) Impact Level 5 (IL5) standard.

Your email archiving solution should also implement access control to let you decide who can access data within your organization.

Cloud-based or on-premise

Email archiving tools can be cloud-based or on-premise. The former means keeping the archived emails on external servers, while the latter involves a company storing them on internally operated servers.

Cloud-based tools are more convenient because you can access archived emails anytime, anywhere. On-premise solutions are more challenging to handle because the company takes care of maintaining its servers, which requires an additional workforce. Yet, some companies prefer on-premise solutions for security reasons.

Compatibility

You must choose an email archiving solution compatible with the platform your organization uses to send and receive emails. For example, if your company relies on the Microsoft Office 365 email suite, MailMeter will be a suitable archiving platform to choose. If your organization uses Google Workspace, you can choose the native Google Vault backup solution.

Ease of retrieval

You need an archiving solution that indexes your archived emails neatly and makes it easy to search through them using various criteria.

Ease of setup

You need an email archiving solution that’s easy to set up and maintain. Many organizations don’t have dedicated IT departments to deploy archiving solutions, so a managed service might be the best choice.

The best practices for archiving emails

These are the best practices that’ll help you archive emails effectively:

  • Review regulations constantly. Laws change frequently, and it’s essential to monitor your industry’s email archiving rules to avoid falling afoul and risking legal consequences.
  • Create retention policies. You can create custom data retention policies that go even further than the law requires. For example, if regulations demand keeping emails for at least 5 years, you can keep them for 10 years for maximum security.
  • Train employees effectively. Train new and old employees about your company’s retention policies and external regulations to ensure they comply with them and avoid violating the law.

    Email archiving solutions

    There are many email archiving solutions to choose from. Some may be part of enterprise-scale backup software suites or storage management applications. Below is a list of a few popular products you may consider using for your needs, in addition to those mentioned earlier.

    • Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office
    • Archive360
    • Barracuda Message Archiver
    • Microsoft Exchange Online Archiving
    • Rackspace Email Archiving
    • Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365
    • Veritas Enterprise Vault

    Conclusion

    Security and legal compliance are paramount for any business. We have explained what email archiving is and why your company may need it. We’ve outlined the basic considerations for choosing the right tools for the task. Follow our advice and stay safe.

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