Don’t Let Email Retention Rules Bog Down Decision to Archive Email

For many organizations, the ability to define and enforce retention schedules is important for email archiving. So when evaluating email archiving products, be able to take a position on what your retention needs are. Think through such issues as:

  • What kind of emails need to be stored, and for how long?
  • Is it practical to simply keep everything for an indefinite period of time?
  • Should end users be responsible for tagging email content as a business record?
  • If so, how should they do this? With a third-party tool in Outlook? Using Managed Folders?
  • What happens if the end user forgets or declines to tag email? Or makes a mistake?
  • What techniques can be adopted to automatically define a retention period?
  • How sure can you be that email, once deleted, is really removed from disk and is not recoverable through forensic techniques?

However, don’t hold up the decision to archive email because you haven’t spelled out all of your retention policies in detail. Defining retention rules is a continuous and complex process of prototyping and refinement. The wisest course is often to ensure an email archiving system has a reasonably broad and flexible set of retention tools. If you wait until the rules are fully defined, you’ll never get started. This, in turn, means you defer the major benefits of archiving: better storage management, support for e-discovery, replacing backup tapes and PST files, and so on.

It’s like buying a computer. If you defer your purchase because there will be better price/performance out soon, you’ll never make a decision.

Bob Spurzem

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