Email archiving solutions automatically store copies of email content, meta-data, and attachments in a safe and immutable database, from which they can be searched and retrieved when needed. There are several reasons it’s important for organizations to deploy an email archiving solution; storage to comply with data protection regulations, maintaining business continuity, and internal auditing are all common reasons for implementing email archiving services.
Investing in email archiving is a necessity for many organizations, particularly those in regulated industries such as healthcare, legal services, and the government sector. But implementing email archiving can be a challenging process. The average office worker sends and receives over 100 emails every single day – which is a lot of data to store, organize, and filter through in the case of a compliance incident requiring investigation.
Implementing a dedicated email archiving solution makes the process a lot easier. These solutions automatically store immutable copies of all incoming, outbound, and internal email messages, and provide a centralized, searchable dashboard for users to access historical email data.
To help you find the right email archiving solution for your organization, we’ve reviewed the best email archiving solutions available today. In this article we’ll cover the pros and cons, features, and functionality of each solution to help you shortlist the best email archiving solution for your business.
Email Archiving: Everything You Need To Know (FAQs)
What Is Email Archiving?
Email archiving is the system of storing your email communication so they can later be retrieved, typically for legal and auditing purposes.
Email archiving solutions allow you to store tamper-proof, immutable copies of each and every email your organization sends and receives. Most email archiving solutions capture email content directly from the email client itself, or during transport, so the entire process occurs without any added work for IT teams or end users. These emails are stored separately to your main email client so that if you change company email systems, delete every email in your inbox, or your company network is wiped, you’ll still have copies of all your original emails.
Many email archives today are cloud-based, allowing you to access your stored emails from any device, at any time. They often also include e-discovery features, which allow you to search the archive for specific emails by attributes such as recipient, sender, time, attachment type, and subject.
Once you have found the emails you are looking for, or even if you need to bulk export every email from a particular month for example, archiving solutions make it easy to restore past emails and attachments.
How Does Email Archiving Work?
Typically, third-party email archiving solutions work via the process journaling. Email journaling records all communications within the email archiving solution. The journaling system creates copies of all email messages and stores them in a secure, searchable database. This process can be customized based on your organization’s specific journaling and retention policies.
When deploying an email archiving solution to your email environment, for example Microsoft 365, you need to add a journaling rule in the admin center, which tells your email provider (e.g., Microsoft) to send emails to your chosen archiving database. Most email archiving solutions provide an in-depth guide to deployment based on specific steps required.
However, there are many different approaches to email archiving, and the specifics of how email archiving works can differ based on the approach used. Many users will be familiar with the email archiving functionality offered natively within Microsoft Outlook or Google Mail, in which archived emails are sent to a separate Archive folder. But this use case is meant for end-users to manage their emails more effectively, not for IT departments or compliance use cases.
Where Do Archived Emails Go?
When an end-user archives an email in Outlook or Google Mail, it is removed from their inbox and placed in a separate folder. From there, archived emails can be deleted or moved back to the inbox. Without an additional third-party email archiving solution, this does not ensure archived messages are kept secure and immutable.
When using an enterprise email archiving solution, a copy of every single inbound, outbound, or internal email is stored in a secure repository, where emails can be searched, placed on legal hold, and recovered. Meta-data and attachments can also be viewed.
This repository is usually cloud-based and accessible by admins, auditors, and legal compliance teams. Sometimes the cloud-archive can also be accessed by end-users, who can use the service to search through their own archive and view messages that have been lost or accidentally deleted.
Why Should You Archive Emails?
There are several reasons that organizations should archive emails, particularly those in heavily regulated industries such as legal services, healthcare, government, and finance.
Common reasons for implementing email archiving tools include:
- Regulatory Compliance: Many industries must keep copies of internal and external correspondence to demonstrate compliance with regulations governing corporate communications and data protection. Email archiving ensures that email content cannot be deleted, corrupted, or tampered with – accidentally or intentionally. This minimizes the risk of fines for breach of compliance regulations.
- e-Discovery: In the case of an investigation, either internally or externally, it’s important for auditors to be able to quickly find content associated with particular employees or groups. This can be difficult with the native functionality offered by many email systems. Email archiving provides comprehensive e-Discovery functionality, enabling teams to quickly search, filter, and export email content going back several years.
- Internal Audits: Internal auditing and investigations are critical process for HR, risk, and compliance teams. Auditors need an easy way to search email content in the case of a workplace investigation, with transparent auditing to ensure that data is being accessed in a compliant way. Email archiving provides the functionality on both counts, allowing teams to find email content, and highlighting who has accessed email data.
- Business Continuity: Human error, tech unreliability, cyberthreats, and natural disasters can all upend careful planning and lead to data loss, which can be hugely damaging to business processes and continuity. Nobody wants to suddenly find they have lost hundreds of emails and contacts. A secure, centralized archive held on a third-party system can help to ensure you always have a backup available in case of disaster.
What Features Should You Look For In An Email Archiving Solution?
Email archiving solutions should be optimized for easy deployment, hands-off management, and fast search and retrieval when required. Key features to look for in an email archiving solution include:
- Automated storage of all email and attachments
- Folder and meta-data archiving
- Compliance with key data protection and retention regulations
- Fast search and granular filter options
- e-Discovery and legal hold
- End user archive access
- Retention and storage policies
- Reports and risk assessments
- Low data storage costs
- Secure email archive with MFA controls and access logs
- Support for archiving other communications data, e.g., Teams chats
- Secure data protection policies, such as encryption
- Clear deployment steps with effective support and documentation
When looking to implement an email archiving solution, organizations must build out a comprehensive strategy, outlining specific requirements such as retention policies and key data compliance regulations to follow. Combining this with the above features will help teams to ensure a successful email archiving deployment.