Important features to consider
The decision to go for e-mail archiving will be based on the size of the company, storage requirements and legal obligations. In small and midsize businesses, e-mail archiving is mostly a productivity tool and a means of moving old e-mails from their overloaded mail servers to a central archive that can store a huge amount of data. This reduces dependency on PST files and allows administrators and users to search for and retrieve e-mails at will.
For larger enterprises, these same reasons also apply, but legal and compliance issues will drive the case for archiving. The ability to access and retrieve e-mails within minutes without the need to trawl through massive and complex backups is also important.
There are a number of features that businesses need to look out for in an e-mail archiving solution. First, the solution must have a flexible search engine that gives administrators and employees the ability to search for specific e-mail or conversation threads. The solution also needs to have an adjustable retention policy to allow the business to control how, and for how long, e-mail messages are retained.
Another important consideration is that the database storing the archived e-mail cannot be tampered with. To present e-mails as evidence in a court of law, the company has to prove the integrity of those e-mails. Finally, you need a software solution that is easy to install and is not overly complex. If a business is to allow its employees to search for old and deleted e-mails, the process should be simple enough even to those with limited knowledge.
What should be stored?
An important question! Simply put, there are two options: keep everything or delete everything. Keeping everything is the best option because e-mail is a two-way communication process. Deleting an e-mail does not erase all traces of that communication because at least one recipient would also have a copy. Keeping a copy of every e-mail will ensure that the company's e-mail correspondence will not be used against them. Companies need to define a retention policy based on the importance of the e-mail being archived. The CEO's e-mail, for example, should be retained for longer periods than that of an office clerk.
One big advantage of archiving e-mail is that it reduces the size of users' mailboxes and also the number of requests for more storage. IT administrators can impose 30-to-90-day storage limits, but they should also explain that no e-mail will be lost; it is safely archived and accessible at any time.