10 key considerations for email archiving


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    Even if your archiving system of choice includes native legal-hold and search functionality, you may have to integrate it with a third-party tool. Not all archiving applications offer legal-hold and search features that are granular and flexible enough for real-world use, especially if your organization faces frequent legal action, so you might have to replace it with a more specialized legal-hold tool.

    The process of declaring and releasing a legal hold can be complex. Holds normally cover a range of dates and systems, and the scope can change as discussions between the parties take place. Usually, a specialized third-party legal-hold program offers more functionality than one that's part of the archive application.

    Another frequent objection to integrated hold-and-search features is the preference of the legal team. Ediscovery has become common in the last decade, so most attorneys have gone through the process a few times by now. It's likely their past experience with specialized litigation support software will lead them to request that solution instead of an unfamiliar one bundled with an email archiving system.

  1. How does search work?
    The search capabilities of archiving applications--which may be a critical feature for ediscovery--vary from product to product. Consider how your legal

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  1. group conducts searches today; they may be very specific about what they're looking for or might want a more iterative process, such as nesting searches within searches until a set of messages is isolated. Try out the search function with the legal team to see if it works in ways they might want to use it.

    "Our legal team is hooked on ediscovery," comments one administrator at a well-known business who asked to remain anonymous. "They are making many more queries and becoming better at asking more refined questions as they become familiar with the email archive's capabilities." This helps to protect the company and reduce ediscovery costs.

    Consider the technicalities of the search function. Can it search across mailboxes or repositories? Requiring multiple searches might reduce the utility of the archive and content might be missed. Not all archiving systems can quickly and efficiently search a large data set. Try a query on a massive data set to judge the responsiveness of the archiver's search function.

  2. Can the archive easily integrate with third-party tools?
    In most cases, the email archiving system will become an essential part of your infrastructure, so consider how well it will integrate with other elements. Can the archive integrate with your user account management and access control system? What about your reporting, logging and audit tools? These features could become critical stumbling blocks as the product is rolled out across a large organization.

    Note that the level of integration between archives and legal tools varies. Most archives can export a set of messages in a PST file for use by ediscovery tools, while others can directly tie in with the most popular tools with direct database access and APIs. The latter can be far more flexible and efficient, and organizations with frequent legal searches and favorite tools will benefit from this type of integration.

This was first published in June 2008

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