Email Archiving

I got to spend lunch today at a local ILTA meeting, watching a presentation about email archiving technology. The presentation was pretty informative, if not a bit long, but the part that really had me shaking my head was when the presenter talked about the technology having the ability to archive everything directly from the Exchange server, and then not be deleted unless by an Admin, usually someone in IT.

Excuse me, what?

I get the concept that we need to treat email like other business records, but not all of our email would be considered a business record. In fact, most of it is crap. Email list postings, newsletters, personal emails etc. There’s a whole lot of stuff that, if I’m an email administrator, I don’t want to keep. I don’t want to have to search through all of that junk if it comes time to do some e-discovery, I don’t want to pay for all the extra storage, etc. I just want that stuff gone.

I also don’t want to pay for someone in IT to sit and decide what is a business record and what isn’t on all the email that comes into a server. No offense to the IT folks, but really, are you the most qualified person in your organization when it comes to knowing what needs to be kept and what doesn’t? I actually hope you aren’t, because that says bad things about your users. 🙂

They should be the one’s who decide what is a business record and what isn’t. We shouldn’t have to “keep everything, forever”, just in case they can’t or won’t do that properly.

Seriously, there’s got to be a better way, but everything I’ve looked at is just as much of a mess as the next option. It’s not a pretty picture.

Technorati Tags: EmailArchiving, ITLA

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  1. I believe much of that might have to due with governmental requirements… those which e-mail is considered a public record and thus must be archived / preserved. I don’t believe there is any kind of vetting of which e-mail can or cannot be preserved.

    I could easily be wrong though — Not completely my area of expertise. 🙂

  2. I’d also find it hard for users to know what to delete and what not to – most of them will not delete anything or will delete the incriminating evidence – both situations you don’t want.
    We just turned on auto deletion of deleted items after 7 days on exchange – about 5gb of data will be removed after the expiration – I’m pretty sure that the “doughnuts in the kitchen” emails (from 1997) will still be in people’s inboxes though

  3. Kevin, at a law firm I don’t believe there are any strict requirements. Certainly if you’re dealing with email from a client in the financial or health care industries, it might be a good idea to keep those records the same amount of time they would be required to, but I don’t think it’s ever been spelled out as a requirement for us to do so, though I don’t know that for sure.

    I do know that we have no obligation to keep those “donut” emails Andy mentions, and it’s those kinds of emails that I don’t want to keep. The ones that have nothing to do with the business of the firm and only take up space and slow down searches. There has to be a better way to find and delete those.

    Andy, interesting that you mention deleting the incriminating evidence. It brings to mind something I heard a speaker say recently about people who go in to “hide” stuff when they are facing litigation. “The hole where the evidence used to be, is almost always more damaging than the evidence was in the first place”. Obviously, if you get caught deleting evidence, people will assume the absolute worst about what was there, probably worse that what you’re actually guilty of!

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