Email Archiving: Not just for big companies

 In advice, planning

By now, most business owners and managers have heard about email archiving as it relates to compliance regulations like HIPAA, SOX or many other federal and state regulations acts.  If your company is bound by one or more of these regulatory guidelines, then you should already have an archiving and e-discovery solution in place.  But what about those entities which have no government requirements to follow?  Is email archiving something only the “big fish” need to worry about?

Perhaps not.  Email is becoming more frequently used in litigation, which has prompted amendments by the federal court system to the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).  According to the LiveOffice article “Why FRCP Matters,” :

These amendments require any organization with the potential for involvement in litigation within the U.S. federal court system (which is most public and private companies) to:

  • Be able to produce emails requested as evidence in a federal court case in their native format
  • Have a clear understanding of where their data is stored and how to retrieve it in a timely manner
  • Honor a legal hold by halting any previous purging practices until the legal matter is settled
  • Prove authenticity of the communications in question (i.e. that they are tamper-proof)

If there is any chance that your company is involved in a dispute that ends up in court, then it may be worth considering an email archiving solution, since you may be required to produce electronic data in a format that could not have been wholly or partially altered or destroyed.

Case in point: one of our clients recently terminated an employee for poor performance.  The employee retaliated with a lawsuit.  Unfortunately, the employee had deleted emails prior to leaving the work premises, and to further complicate things, the email program used by the company stored email data in a non-standard format.  So, even if some emails could be dug up from another source, they may very well be inadmissible in a court case.

This is just the situation where an archiving service can bring tremendous value to any business. For a monthly fee, an archiving service saves copies of all incoming email before it reaches your company’s mail servers, maintaining data integrity and and protecting against any tampering.  Inter-office correspondence can also be recorded and sent offsite through a process called journaling.

Even if you don’t think your company is in danger of being named in a lawsuit, archiving still has value as a backup and disaster recovery tool.  Though your IT department or service company performs regular backups of your mail data, it may not be in a format that can be easily searched for single messages or conversation threads should that need arise.  Having a protected, offsite archive that is keyword searchable can be invaluable in a disaster recovery situation when very specific emails have to be unearthed.

Archiving your company’s message data may not be required by law, but it may help you sleep better at night!

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