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What is e-mail archiving?

The systematic way of saving data in e-mails so that they can be easily accessed later is known as e-mail archiving. Earlier companies had to rely on the end-users maintaining their own individual e-mail archives. But today's compliance legislation and legal discovery rules has made it necessary for IT departments of companies to maintain e-mail archives in such a way that a particular mail can be found within minutes.

Email archiving can be said to be an IT application wherein the email server manages the email messages of the company. The server records all email messages whether outgoing or incoming in a central database and this is what enables them to be accessed when the need may arise later on. There may be a need to search for certain historical emails because of some legally required internal investigation, and in such a situation, thousands of emails can be easily searched. It is done by the search tools that are embedded in the archiving system of the email. And of course finding past emails may also help in running the business from time to time.

Why archive emails?

Employees in e-commerce must access emails to manage and close sales. These employees, along with many others, often have to store their emails for a very long time, but in some organizations it is mandatory that all emails that are more than 90 days old must be deleted. Getting rid of them is not ideal because e-mails might win the company a law case. And an email that was sent from the company outside might still be there even when the company itself has deleted it.

An email archiving solution can enhance the performance of the email server and also the efficiency of the storage – this is done by getting rid of the attachments and the emails themselves from a messaging server that is based on the policies that have been decided upon by the administrator. There is no need to worry because the email and also the attachment remains archived and can be accessed by the email client existing applications.

IT departments use policy based e-mail archiving software applications that help them to maintain large e-mail archives and also to free up server space. These applications deal with indexing, accessing logos and search capabilities .A life cycle management component is also included; it acts as a sort of traffic inspector in regard to the mails that are coming to company and acts on the basis of rules set up by the administrator. The rules classify the e-mails that need to be archived; it also sends the emails to the most economical and efficient storage media, and it also automatically deletes e-mails which are no longer required.

Many people wrongly believe that email archiving only needs the intervention of the IT department, which has to either purchase or develop an in-house email archiving system. But in reality for an e-mail archiving system to be successful it needs the Legal, the HR and IT department to work in unison.

The legal department needs to set down the parameters on which the archiving system will be based, namely what needs to be recorded and for how long, the terms and conditions that the stored data would be subjected to, who will have access to this data, etc.

The HR department involves the hiring of the people who would have the responsibility of the archiving system. This department also decides how often and when the archiving system needs to be run.

The IT department's task is to set up the infrastructure (including hardware and software support), systems and procedures as well as recruiting and training personnel to oversee the system. The department is involved with the infrastructure, whether developing the system in-house or purchasing the suitable one and then setting it up. Training the people who would be in charge of the system is also a responsibility of this department.

And lastly there is the system itself, the hardware, the software application, backup systems, disaster management etc.

Email archiving solutions archives email content in 1 of 2 ways. One method captures emails straight from the application itself. The others method captures the email while it is moving through the agent that is installed at the network gateway.

The many reasons why companies need to archive emails:
  • Archiving emails lets users have almost an unlimited capacity in their inboxes and thus they can easily receive hundreds of emails. Plus they can also easily retrieve any email.
  • This helps in offloading data from a production server and this leads to enhanced storage and performance efficiency, and it also preserves access to the end users.
  • This allows the company to retain data for regulatory, litigation and business needs. Legal professionals can easily search the emails that have been archived.
But at a higher level there are mainly two main factors that make email archiving necessary:
  • For being a part of storage activities and messaging infrastructure
  • As a legal business request and for an essential compliance
Finding the appropriate vendor is important to get your archiving solution and implementing it. There are a few such vendors that offer such an archiving stand alone solution or which comes with other offerings.
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