Email is now the main method of communication for businesses. Each day, a typical business will receive thousands of emails. Those messages need to be retained for several years to satisfy state and federal laws.

There are two options available to businesses to meet data retention laws for email. Businesses can backup all email data or create an email archive. While businesses will be familiar with the former, there is considerable confusion about the latter.

In this post we will explore some of the common myths of email archiving and will explain the important differences between email backups and archives.

One of the commonest misconceptions about email archiving is an archive is not necessary because data backups are already performed. Backups are essential as they ensure that data can be recovered in the event of disaster. Backups allow a business to create a restore point so that in the event of a catastrophe, systems can be restored to their state at a specific moment in time – When the backup was created.

An email archive is different. An email archive is used for long term storage of emails. Emails are archived with metadata and can be searched and recovered quickly. Backups are not searchable, so finding and recovering specific emails or conversation threads can be incredibly time consuming.

An archive makes legal discovery, investigating complaints, and providing evidence for compliance audits simple. With an email archive, single messages, threads, and conversations can be quickly and easily recovered.

Another common myth about email archiving is it is only a requirement for businesses in certain industries such as finance and healthcare. While email archiving is essential for meeting regulatory requirements in certain industries, it does not mean that email archiving is just for highly regulated industries.

The U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require emails to be producible in the event of legal action. If emails cannot be produced, the company could be liable for the destruction of evidence and face stiff financial penalties.

Another common myth is email archives increase risk. Many companies choose a short email retention period, such as 90 days, and require all complaints to be submitted in the same time frame. After 90 days, emails are deleted as they are no longer required. That, however, is a dangerous strategy.

Deleting emails from the email server only deletes local copies. It is probable that emails will have been retained on the recipient’s server. Short retention periods also make the process of eDiscovery more time consuming, expensive, and difficult.

The other risk is that of exposure of sensitive information. Many companies believe that it is more secure to create email archives on on-premises hardware. Security is naturally a concern, but cloud-based email archives are just as secure, if not more, as on-premises archives.

Cloud-based archives also have considerable advantages. They are scalable, so when more storage space is required it is available immediately. With on-premises archives, businesses are limited by their IT hardware and software. Purchasing additional hardware can be expensive and resources must be devoted to managing and maintaining that hardware. Cloud-based archiving is more cost effective and does not involve sacrificing security.

With an email archiving solution, businesses can meet their regulatory obligations, will be able to respond quickly to eDiscovery requests, and will have easy and fast access to any email, even if that message was received several years previously. With an email archive, all critical email data is safely and securely saved and can be recovered quickly on demand.