Twenty years ago, on a cold December day in New York City, ‘America’s Most Innovative Company ’ filed for bankruptcy. The Enron Corporation, a US-based energy and services company formed in 1985, had reached a dizzying share price peak of $90.75, boosted by the Dot Com bubble and their innovative technologies and trading practices.
But after the Dot Com Crash and the recession in 2000, Enron executives realized that they were no longer making any returns on their gargantuan investments, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Given legitimacy by their well-respected accountancy firm Arthur Anderson, Enron devised a complicated scheme to hide these losses from creditors, until the pressure became too much and in December 2001, they declared bankruptcy .
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened a criminal investigation into what had happened. The first company to face charges were Arthur Anderson, who were found guilty in 2002 of obstructing justice for shredding documents and deleting nearly 30,000 emails and files related to Enron’s shady business practices .
This conviction was later overturned on appeal, but it opened regulators’ eyes as to how digital records like email were at risk of being deleted, tampered with or corrupted, potentially jeopardizing criminal investigations into fraud. To prevent this from happening again, in July 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the ‘Sarbanes-Oxley act’, a new regulation stipulating that all businesses had to maintain digital records – including email – for at least five years .
This presented a new challenge for organizations across the US. How can you ensure that emails are kept secure for at least five years? The answer emerged in email archiving solutions.
What Is Email Archiving?
Email archiving technologies allow you to store tamper-proof, immutable copies of each and every email your organization sends and receives. 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 of your original emails.
Many email archives today are cloud-based, allowing you to access your stored emails from any device, at any time. They’ll often also include e-discovery features, which allow you to search the archive for specific emails by recipient, sender, time, attachments, subject and many more attributes.
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. Most email archiving solutions will capture this 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.
Why Is Email Archiving Important?
It’s hugely important that organizations can store emails securely and prevent them from being edited. There are a whole range of other use cases that make email archiving an important and helpful business tool, including e-discovery, compliance and business continuity.
But, even as we rely ever more on email communications – studies have shown that up to three quarters of business IP is contained in email and messaging systems – many organizations are still to be convinced of the benefits of email archiving systems.
Benefits Of Email Archiving
To help you decide if email archiving is something your organization should be investing in, here are our top five benefits of email archiving solutions:
Litigation And Legal Discovery
As we’ve seen in the example of Enron, storing all of your emails in a secure, tamper-proof archive that you can easily search is hugely important in the case of any legal questioning or investigations that might arise.
This is not to say archiving is only useful for organizations at risk of legal action of course, but if one of your business partners, customers or clients needs to recover specific emails for any legal reason, email archiving is a great way of ensuring your organization is prepared.
Archiving solutions allow you to set retention policies that can help you to be in line with any regulatory requirements and allow you to easily export emails to third parties if needed. E-Discovery features make it easy to find any lost or missing emails. Many archiving solutions also provide audits that show who has had access to the archive, allowing you to pre-empt any potential legal issues and effectively work with regulatory bodies if the need arises.
According to a recent study by Osterman Research, sponsored by Waterford Technologies (MailMeter) – “Archiving business records is the first step in enabling a proper defence during regulatory audits, legal actions, and in other situations in which older content must be retained”. Every organization will have the inevitable lawsuit, regulatory inquiry, or other reasons to search for much-needed information.
In addition to being used in legal cases, many industries like healthcare, financial services and energy will have strict regulations in place stipulating that emails have to be stored in case of data loss investigations, for example.
New regulations such as GDPR also mandate organizations store data for certain periods of time, and take steps to ensure the integrity of email data. GDPR in particular requires that citizens’ requests to access personal data must be answered in 30 days, and email archiving can be a great way for organizations to comply with this.
Laura Stotesbury, Head of Marketing at Waterford Technologies (MailMeter) notes that “since the implementation of GDPR in May 2018, Waterford Technologies has helped their clients with a steady stream of DSAR’s but in the last few months, their clients are reporting a substantial increase in DSAR’s, up 1300%. What this may be due to, whether it is individuals taking stock of what information is out there, an unanticipated consequence of the pandemic, (increase in redundancies, insurance claims, opportunistic) or something else: we can only speculate).
Some regulations also require you to take steps to protect data in the case of data loss or a cyberattack such as ransomware, which you can read more about here. Email archiving can be a cost-effect and easy to manage away to meet compliance regulations and demonstrate to regulators and investors that your organization is taking important steps to better protect corporate data.
How much does a DSAR, eDiscovery, or FOIA investigation cost? That is a tricky question and the honest answer is, it depends. On a case by case basis, data subject access requests or eDiscovery costs can depend on multiple factors, including the size and type of data, the complexity of the review, and most importantly the type of data management solution employed. That is, whether companies review digital records manually, use a third party or utilise in house review. You can read more here on the cost of handling data requests.
Business And Email Continuity
Although cloud-based emails systems are typically far more reliable than traditional hardware solutions, there are still times when email networks go down. As most archives can be accessed by end users, email archiving gives employees an easy way to access all of their emails at any time, ensuring some continuity in the case of an emergency.
In addition, email archiving solutions can speed up the process of data restoration if your organization is hit by data loss or a ransomware attack that scrambles business files. Cloud-based email archiving is very easy to configure and often much more cost-effective than general back-up and recovery systems.
In addition, cloud-based email archiving stores data from all of your users, no matter what devices they are using or if they are in the office or working from home. This means you can be confident that there will be no data loss for any employees, regardless of where they are located or what devices they are using.
Reducing Storage Costs And Improving Performance
A simple reason to invest in email archiving solutions is to save space! Email archiving can help to lower the amount of storage your emails are taking up, and thus reduce server costs.
Archiving technologies often compress emails and attachments, which can save up to 50% on storage requirements. They also use deduplication tactics to ensure only one copy of the email is archived. This is often not the case when storing emails on mail servers, where forwarding emails often creates two versions of the same email message, using up your storage cap unnecessarily.
Email archiving helps to improve server performance too, by allowing you to free up storage by removing legacy emails, while still having peace of mind that you can still retrieve these messages if you need to. This also removes the need for mailbox quotas which are designed to prevent email storage capacity being met.
In addition, because many organizations are now using Office 365 for their email hosting, email archiving is a good option to reduce costs and storage space. Many email archiving solutions are optimized for Office 365 and help to cut down on both storage and time costs by making it easy to archive emails without taking up many resources or admin time.
A third party email archiving solution can offer fully managed e-Discovery, Office 365 Management for less than what you pay to back up your Office 365 mailboxes. You can read more here on how to create Office 365 cost savings.
The final benefit of email archiving is that it can boost employee productivity. It can be a really useful tool for end users to clear out unneeded messages from the inbox and find old emails that they might have accidentally deleted or misplaced.
Many email archiving solutions are designed to be as easy to use as possible, both for admins and end users. End users should be able to search their own email archives and recover lost emails, files and attachments sent over email, without having to go to the IT team and ask for help. Archiving can be really useful tool to find old conversations, find lost documents and return to paused projects.
Email archiving can also help the IT department. With an archiving solution in place, they’d no longer have to spend time looking for lost emails or restoring damaged mailboxes – archiving makes it easy for end users to find lost emails in mere seconds by logging into their cloud-based archiving dashboard in their browser.
Moving emails is also easier with email archiving. Many archiving solutions make it easy to export archived emails and move them around (although it’s important to look out for hidden exporting costs), which means you no longer have to convert emails to PSTs or spend time managing individual messages.
In addition, email archiving can give admins and managers a wealth of data into how employees are interacting, spotting any potential HR problems, and viewing how employees are communicating with customers, to make sure business processes are running as smoothly as possible. Some cloud-based email archives also offer detailed audits and content analysis to give admins a bird-eye view of the email landscape and help improve productivity.
You can read more about how email archiving can boost productivity here.
How Can You Find The Right Email Archiving Solution?
Now you know just a few of the benefits of email archiving, you may be starting to consider what features you should be looking for in an archiving service for your organization.
There are a number of key features to consider when thinking about email archiving. These include the admin policies the service offers, the e-discovery features, how easy the service is to use (for both admins and end-users) its compliance commitments and, of course, the cost of storing and exporting archived emails.
It’s important to research each archiving solution a vendor offers and make an informed choice as to which service will meet the requirements of your organization. To help you research the best email archiving solutions for your organizations we have put together a guide to the Top 10 Email Archiving Solutions For Business, which you can read here.