Email Retention Software
Email data needs to be retained for legal and regulatory compliance and the easiest way to ensure email is retained for the correct period of time is to use email retention software.
Email retention software takes the complexity out of email retention for legal and regulatory compliance. The software is used to create policies for email retention, apply those policies to all incoming and outgoing email, and automate the process of sending email messages (and attachments) to an email archive for long term storage.
The email archive contains a read-only, tamperproof copy of all emails that meet the criteria in your email retention policy. In the event of a compliance audit, legal dispute, or eDiscovery request, emails can be restored to mailboxes from the archive or exported to a file.
Email Archives and Email Backups
Email data is part of the corporate record and must be retained for a set period of time to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. Certain industries such as the financial services and healthcare must also retain certain emails for compliance. HIPAA, for instance, requires all emails relating to HIPAA policies and procedures to be retained for a minimum of 6 years.
HIPAA does not specify that an email archive must be used for email retention, so emails could potentially be stored in backups but this would be unwise. The purpose of a backup is to ensure that in the event of disaster data can be restored to a set point in time. If email data is corrupted, a mailbox could be restored from a backup to the last known point prior to data corruption.
The problem with backups is they cannot be searched. Emails must first be restored before searches can be performed. You would need to find the correct backup, restore the data, and then search the restored mailbox to find the email you need. That can be a time-consuming process, especially if you are not certain when an email was sent, received, or deleted. When multiple emails need to be recovered from multiple mailboxes – for an eDiscovery request or compliance audit – recovering emails could take weeks.
In contrast to email backups, email archives can be searched. Prior to an email being sent to the archive, it will be indexed and tagged to ensure it can be easily found and recovered when needed. Emails can contain important information in the message body, but oftentimes data needs to be found in email attachments. Email retention software allows searches to be performed inside file attachments, not just the message headers and message body.
Email retention software is integrated with your mail system and email client to allow end users to send emails to the archive, search the archive when emails need to be found, and recover messages without having to trouble the IT department. Archiving emails is usually a one click process and searches can be performed in a similar way to searching your inbox and mail folders. Emails can be found and restored by end users, but the original copy in the archive cannot be deleted or altered. Only the administrator has permissions to delete emails from the archive.
Automation of Long-Term Email Storage Using Email Retention Software
One of the main advantages of email retention software is the automation of email archiving. While it is possible to allow end users to choose which emails are sent to the archive, this could be a recipe for disaster. Employees can make mistakes and they can prove costly. The failure to archive all emails that need to be retained could easily result on a substantial financial penalty. The best option is to automate email archiving.
Email retention software is a set and forget solution. Create your policies, set retention periods for certain types of email and data, and the emails will be automatically archived and deleted when the retention period is reached, unless a legal hold has been placed on the data.
Email Retention Software Can Be Used On-Premise or in the Cloud
Email retention software can be purchased and used within your own email environment to send email data to an on-premise or cloud archive. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so you will need to assess the best option for your own organization.
Many organizations feel more comfortable with on-premise archives as they feel they have greater control over security; however, setting up and maintaining an on-premise archive, the associated hardware, backing up your archive, and ensuring you can sufficient storage space can be time consuming and costly. Storing your email archive in the cloud means you will avoid the hardware maintenance costs and will always be able to easily increase storage space, without compromising security.
The easiest solution is to opt for an email archiving-as-a-service (EAssS) solution. EAaaS is a simple solution that takes the complexity out of email archiving. The service provider will provide and update the software so it will not add to your patching burden. Your email will be securely stored in the cloud and the archive will be automatically backed up. Most service providers will give you a 100% uptime guarantee and total protection against data loss. For SMBs and organizations with limited IT resources, EAaaS is usually the best and most cost-effective email archiving choice.