Email storage solutions come in many formats. You can store emails on-premises, back-up emails and store them off-site, take advantage of the storage provided by cloud-based email services, or archive emails in the cloud. Of the different email storage solutions, cloud-based email archiving is the most cost-effective, reliable, and secure.
Most businesses select their email storage solutions based on several criteria. The criteria may vary from business to business, but they will generally include control, availability, accessibility, cost, and regulatory compliance. These are reasonable considerations; but, in most cases, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for email storage.
The Case For and Against On-Premises Email Storage Solutions
Control and regulatory compliance are closely connected. Many businesses operating in regulated industries have to ensure data contained in emails remains secure; and, if when a business stores emails on-premises, the business controls the security of the environment rather than trusting the security mechanisms of a third-party service provider.
The problem with this approach is that on-premises email storage solutions can be expensive. Not only do businesses have to invest in additional servers and make sure they are secure, but there are also the indirect costs of maintenance, upgrades, and electricity. Plus, if the server goes down – or is upgraded incorrectly – the business loses the email service and data could be corrupted.
Backing-Up Emails Can Prevent Data Loss, But …
Backing-up emails can mitigate the risk of data loss in the event of a server crash or natural disaster, but back-ups are “point-in-time” captures of the email database. Any emails received or sent since the last back-up will be lost when the server is restored, plus any emails that have been amended or deleted since the last back-up will still exist in their previous state.
Additionally, back-ups – whether stored on- or off-premises – take up expensive storage space. Searching through them to recover an email deleted in error or to respond to a data access request is time-consuming; and, because most businesses rotate back-ups (so there is always more than one copy of the email database) it can be difficult to comply with “right to be forgotten” GDPR requests.
The Cloud is Not the Answer for Everyone
There are multiple arguments for and against using cloud-based email storage solutions – which are usually part of the service offered by the likes of Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, and Mail.com. In their favor, email databases are remotely accessible, cloud storage less expensive than on-premises storage, and provided cloud servers are configured correctly, just as secure as any on-premises servers.
However, cloud-based email storage solutions have limited back-up and email recovery capabilities. If a user inadvertently deletes a business critical email, it is most often deleted for ever with no chance of getting it back. Furthermore, due to state and federal email retention requirements, the space required to store an increasingly large email database is going to cost more every month.
Why Email Archiving is the Best Email Storage Solution
Email archiving works alongside whatever mail service a business is using to copy every email as it passes through the on-premises or cloud mail server. The emails are virus-scanned, indexed, and deduplicated before being sent via an encrypted connection to a secure cloud-based archive. Then, whenever it is necessary to retrieve an email, the archive service returns the email within minutes.
Because every email is archived at the time it passes through the mail server, businesses do not have to retain emails for longer than necessary in their on-premises or cloud email storage solutions – reducing storage costs and easing the load on the email server while retaining control over the email database. Additionally, emails are available on demand and accessible remotely 24/7/365.
With regards to the cost of running two systems side-by-side, the deduplication process removes all repeated content and attachments, saving up to 75% in email storage costs. Additionally, because duplicated content is removed, database searches are accelerated, and the results are easier to navigate. This helps businesses more easily comply with data access requests and GDPR rights.