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10 key considerations for email archiving

09 Jun 2008 |

Email archiving products vary in their features and technical structures. Here's how to select an archiving tool that's a good fit for your company's needs.

More and more companies are archiving their users' emails for business and legal reasons. If you haven't standardized on an archiving product, it can be a time-consuming process to find one that fits your company's needs; there are many choices available and each tool has unique features.

When examining an email archiving product, it's important to know how well it's suited to the specific requirements of the email system it's intended to protect. I've reviewed many of these products and compared their functionality to the requirements of dozens of companies. The following 10 questions will help you narrow down the available email archiving products to those that best serve your needs.

Not all of the following 10 questions will be important to every storage environment, but each one should be considered when making a product selection. You should decide whether or not a particular function is important in your environment. Not all email archiving implementations require legal-hold capability, for example. There can also be a spectrum of answers to each question, and not every environment needs the most extreme, feature-rich solution.

There are many considerations beyond the technical issues outlined here (see "Email retention policy," below). One of the primary deciding factors in any technology purchase is cost, which itself includes many variables. Vendor reputation, customer service and geographic support coverage may all influence product selection. While these factors aren't taken into account in this article, any one of them may have an impact and must be carefully considered.

Email retention policy
Getting an archive running and storing messages is only a small part of the larger world of email archiving and records management. Although one shouldn't necessarily wait for official policies to be developed before implementing an archive, a retention schedule is a critical component that must be developed. IT can't set company policy, and may have little insight into compliance rules and regulations, so the development of an email retention policy is an interdisciplinary project.

First, consider how email is used in your organization. Is it a repository for long-term reference or a simple conduit for communication? Don't be tempted by simple-sounding policies that will alienate the user population. Instead, try to come up with a set of retention rules that match how people use the system, as well as the requirements of legal, compliance and business interests.

Retaining messages can be simple, but actually deleting them is an entirely different matter. Although most archiving systems can automatically delete expired messages on a rolling basis, some organizations may prefer manual approval. If this is the case for your firm, make sure the process is consistently followed. Remember the cardinal rule of record retention: It's better to have no policy at all than one you don't enforce.

Related glossary terms

Terms from − the technology online dictionary
Data storage compliance and archiving

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