Email archiving is always a challenge for IT departments – not only for global corporations but for SMEs too. There is certain legislation, depending on your geographical location, that requires you to keep emails for a certain amount of time. There are often security policies that mean good archiving is important.
Firstly, the common perception of archiving: Filing something in the bottom draw of a cabinet, never to be retrieved again? It doesn’t have to be that way….archiving is not designed to be troublesome, but to be convenient and effective in managing data storage and information security.
Most people who work with Microsoft Outlook will be familiar with a ‘PST file‘ which is an archive file, generated either manually or automatically, depending on your user settings in Outlook. A PST will contain the only copy of all the emails, within the file and unless it is password protected, it highly insecure in terms of data access. The same principle applies to other email clients (although terminology varies) – Mac Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird etc.
Take the scenario – an SME employs 150 users at various sites across the country…They have an internal IT department based in the head office but they cannot possibly keep a watchful eye on how everyone is handling their emails. They might delete something important, or are trying to hide something perhaps they shouldn’t have done…they could create a PST file correctly, under the IT department’s instruction and then fail to store it on a network drive…where would this be backed up? Nowhere, is the most likely answer.
It doesn’t take a genius to point out that without a backup of emails, users are treading on very thin legislative ice, and also risk losing valuable communication threads – especially when an employee leaves – where can they find the history on a certain case internally?
So…without further ado, what are the alternatives to risky PST creation? Well firstly, it would be a good idea to set a group policy (Window Servers) to prevent the creation of PST files and then find yourself a centralized archiving tool which controls the whole process for you, whilst allowing users to access their archives seamlessly, in a safe environment. Lets not forget how long it takes Microsoft Outlook to index ALL those emails when you open a PST file…a centralized tool won’t require you to wait.
Depending on the system you choose, some or all of the following features are available:
- Automatic archiving of every email sent and received through your email server;
- Per-user mail boxes;
- Email folder structure retention;
- Individual user access;
- Web based and client computer based access;
- User-determined archive scheduling
- Deletion of emails do not affect the archives;
- Load up existing PST files to the user’s archived mailbox;
- Cross-platform access available;
- Cloud-hosted option.
It’s not our place to say which is best – that depends entirely on your requirements, but the following are examples of a centralized email archive solutions – and they’re all worth considering:
…and one final thing….the price? Well most of the solutions are conveniently priced on a per-user basis, £15-30 per license, meaning that even the smallest of companies can gain the benefit of using sophisticated products.