Emails are the backbone of nearly every business. It’s how we communicate both internally and externally. In fact, over 300 billion emails are sent every day. Of course, about half of these are spam, but that still leaves us with over 150 billion legitimate emails, with a large proportion of these being business-related. A significant number of these emails will contain sensitive data that needs to be protected. With such a reliance on email there are, of course, many rules and regulations surrounding how emails are handled in terms of storage. This is where email archiving comes into play.
What is email archiving?
Email archiving is the process in which every email that is sent and received by a business has an exact copy created that can be stored in a secure database. This database could be on-premise, but it is most often held within the cloud these days. The key to creating a good email archive is to use software that is purpose built for this task. Generally, email systems lack in capability when it comes to archiving functionality.
Nutbourne recommend the use of Barracuda Essentials. We have a more detailed breakdown of the features here. However, in terms of email archiving, Barracuda provide a very easy-to-use tool that integrates directly with Microsoft 365. This allows emails to be copied directly to the cloud following whatever compliance rules you need to set up.
Having this archive outside of the Microsoft suite is good for best practice, allowing access whenever you need, rather than just when the Microsoft servers are working properly. This archive will be more secure and offers much better retention policies in terms of flexibility and granularity.
Email archiving policies
Every industry has its own rules for governing email retention and archiving. From education to the finance and healthcare industries, all of them differ on rules, so check on these before creating your policies. However, every industry is still subject to the laws of the country that they operate in. Here in the UK, governance for this comes through the Public Records Act 1958, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data protection Act 2018 and GDPR, otherwise known as the General Data Protection Regulation. Specifically, this is the UK GDPR as opposed to the EU GDPR, although the differences are currently negligible.
There is much crossover in these laws, with GDPR generally including most of the same rules as the other three combined. The main points that affect emails are as follows:
- Personal data should be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.
- Personal data should be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.
- Personal data should be kept in a form that permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary.
- Data subjects (people) have the right to obtain information from the controller any data held about them and request erasure without undue delay.
Whilst these do not state any specific timeframes as to how long data should be held, it does mean that businesses need to have a reason for keeping data. It must be justifiable. Businesses will also potentially have to be able to supply people with data at a very rapid pace. Having an archive that makes this easy will speed up time spent on data requests massively.
Privacy policies should also be created if you hold personal data. If they do not state how long data in emails is kept for, these should be updated to reflect your retention policies.
Email archiving benefits
Unfortunately in business, there can sometimes be legal troubles. To solve these, regulatory bodies will often demand evidence of emails. Having an archive set up with all of the retention policies and not being able to tamper with it will ensure they know you are legally compliant and legitimate.
This will also be helpful in the case of ICO requests and other regulatory bodies that could potentially investigate a company’s compliance at any time. This is especially true after data leaks and the like, where any time you can show steps to improve compliance is a massive bonus.
Not only can email archiving help businesses remain compliant, it also helps in other ways too. For example, should a user within an organisation delete an email, it can be easily retrieved via the archive. This is especially useful when entire mailboxes, folders or databases are accidentally, or maliciously deleted. Being able to do this so effortlessly will save your IT department a lot of time in trying to restore data, freeing up the resource for more important tasks.
Finally, email archiving can also free up a lot of storage space, as the archive can be compressed. You can also free up mailbox space and take a load off of the email servers, which can be important at peak business times.
Is this the same as backing up emails?
You may be wondering why this is necessary if you already back up your emails. Whilst there are many similarities, there are also differences in the role of backup and archives. Backups are great in the case of data loss in the short-term, but other than that, there isn’t much it can do for this situation. Backups aren’t really designed as a long-term solution. It is unlikely you would usually back up data such as this for years at a time for example.
Email archiving is specifically designed to keep emails stored and secured for a potentially longer period of time. An example of where this could become an issue is with the financial industry. They often have to keep records for 6 years, which archiving is the perfect tool to accomplish this.
On top of everything else we have already mentioned, email archiving can help with eDiscovery, it has full-text indexing for speedy searching and it can eliminate files that can be gigabytes in size. These benefits, alongside all the aforementioned benefits, makes email archiving the obvious choice when it comes to managing your emails.
If you’d like to find out more about our email archiving services or our work more generally as a London managed service provider, then get in touch! Contact Nutbourne today on +44 (0) 203 7273 or by filling out an enquiry form on our website.