Should Your Company Be Archiving Email?Should Your Company Be Archiving Email?

In a recent study conducted by the government it was found that almost 30% of businesses still didn't have an adequate email archive policy to enable them to comply fully with legislation. Considering that some of this legislation has been around for almost 15 years, it's a bit surprising.

Originally it was only public companies that had to preserve email archives for a set period of time, in case of inspections by the SEC or other body. Changes in legislation over the years meant that every company had to keep business documents for set periods, including emails.

Depending on the legislation in question, these documents should be kept for a period of between 3 and 5 years. But that isn't all. They should be accurately duplicated and stored in two different locations, be time stamped, indexed, tamper-proof, secure and free from interference or being modified. They should also be available at short notice to satisfy inspections or e-discovery requests.

An effective email archive isn't just useful for compliance. It can also prevent loss during disaster recovery situations, be used to monitor employees, monitor the flow of information around and out of the company and to use as evidence in contractual or other business dealings.

Employees don't like being monitored, but using email archives is a non-confrontational way of doing it. By checking email traffic after the fact, the monitoring is less intrusive and less time-critical as everything is stored. An effective archive will have keyword searches, can flag emails containing those words and highlight them if necessary. This is a great way of controlling the flow of information in and out of the building.

Information is a commodity, and confidentiality is jealously guarded. Even inadvertent lapses of information security can be tracked and remedied by discipline or retraining. Intended leaks of information can also be managed effectively by having an audit trail from the originator to the recipient.

If the company is small and cutting edge, this method of controlling data is convenient as a vendor can manage it without them seeing the information itself. This is especially good for those companies without IT or Legal departments to take care of things in-house.

This kind of solution invariably costs money, but a hosted email archive is much cheaper to run than a local one. There's no need for extra hardware, staff, administration or training. The vendor takes care of all that. Most of these hosted models work on a per seat or scaled licensing scheme so it can shrink or grow with the client.

So even ignoring the legislative requirements for an effective email archive, it still makes business sense. The ability to control the flow of commercial information and stop leaks as soon as they happen makes sense to any business.

If you need to find out more about email archiving or the laws surrounding email archiving you're encouraged to visit loc.gov/law or call your nearest government office. This article was written on behalf of Smarsh Inc.
by Barry Goodknight
References and Bibliography
Written by PC Pro Schools sourced primarily from Smarsh Inc. Email Archive Services.
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