The importance of email archiving in today’s business world is undeniable, but many businesses may be questioning why a third-party email archiving solution for Exchange is far superior to using the Exchange archiving feature.

The term archive refers to ‘a collection of information that is permanently stored and unalterable.’ Archives are necessary for all businesses to comply with regulations and in the case of litigation, although the degree to which they are necessary depends on the sector the business operates in, with archives essential in highly regulated industries. 

The terms “backup” and “archive” shouldn’t be confused with one another. The purpose of a backup is to restore entire mailboxes in the event of data corruption or loss. It is also worth noting that backups are overwritten with more recent information as time progresses. In contrast, archives preserve data in its original form for longer periods of time. In contrast to backups, archives can easily be searched to identify and recover individual emails.

Why Archiving is Necessary for Businesses

By moving emails to archives, you are helping to limit the amount of data storage needed for mailboxes and that will help to improve the performance of your mail server. A good archiving solution can also help pinpoint the source of data leaks or even security breaches; however these are side benefits.

Archiving is necessary for regulatory compliance and as a repository of information to meet eDiscovery requirements, which is a legal requirement in many countries. eDiscovery is defined as the process of obtaining electronically stored information for use in litigation. This is not only restricted to email. For example, Word and Excel files on your server may also need to be produced in the event of litigation.

Without archives in place, the cost of eDiscovery can be huge. It would, in fact, require the analyzing of each computer in the company to find emails and searching for emails by restoring data from backups, provided of course that backups exist. The search and organizational aspects of archiving are invaluable. In the Nortel Networks executive criminal case, the prosecution delivered 23 million pages of electronic records. Ontario Superior Court Justice Cary Boswell understandably described this as an “unsearchable morass” and requested the prosecution to organize the information and re-present it to the defense.

Issues with Microsoft Exchange 2010 and 2013 Archiving

Microsoft has applied the term “archiving” to describe the journaling and Personal Archive functions of Microsoft Exchange since its 2007 version.

Email copies can be created in Exchange Standard with journaling. Furthermore, with Exchange Premium, these copies can be directed to specific mailboxes or distribution lists. However, journaling does not provide the same functions as archiving because:

  • It lacks the indexing and searching capabilities necessary for fast email recovery
  • Journaling has no data retention configuration settings
  • Users can still create their own PSTs (copies of email that they keep on their own computer). These copies may not necessarily satisfy eDiscovery requirements.

The Personal Archive function addresses some of the shortcomings of journaling. Exchange 2010 has more capabilities than Exchange 2007 in this regard. In terms of Exchange 2010, each user can establish an “archive” for the mailbox. Microsoft TechNet’s description of these is “secondary mailboxes in which users can store messages they need to keep for a longer duration.”  Additionally, Microsoft explains, “the whole idea behind creating personal archive mailboxes is to avoid the constraints of mailbox quotas.” This does not provide an archiving function.

The Personal Archive doesn’t necessarily need to reside in the same production database, it can even live in the cloud. Users have two options: they can move the emails manually or let them be moved automatically based on retention tags. The major downside of Personal Archive lies in the cost. The reason for this is using Personal Archive requires enterprise client access licenses (CALs) and Office 2010 Professional Plus for Outlook.

Microsoft also states that Personal Archive “may not meet your archiving needs”. Since users have control over their own Personal Archives, they are questionable repositories for compliance and eDiscovery as users are able to delete items and modify retention tags.

Microsoft maintains that users with a Discovery Management role can take advantage of indexing and multiple mailbox searching to meet eDiscovery needs. However, Exchange 2010's Exchange Control Panel is clunky and difficult to use, making it far from ideal for eDiscovery.

Exchange 2013 and Exchange Online Improvements

With the newer Exchange versions, users still have a large amount of control over their mailboxes. Not only can they define their own policies, users can also use creative ways to try bypass imposed corporate policies, e.g. “archiving” items in the Deleted Items folder. Although the Exchange administrator can use Policy Tips to notify users of possible compliance issues with data in their e-mails, the administrator still can’t override user settings unless Litigation Hold or In-Place Hold is applied to a mailbox.

Microsoft Exchange has added improved features for eDiscovery, requiring a SharePoint 2013-based portal to search across all mailboxes. There are two main drawbacks with this approach:

  1. Companies must purchase/upgrade to SharePoint 2013
  2. It makes it necessary to have a monolithic mail store with rapidly growing online storage. Data must be held on an online Exchange server to use Exchange’s In-Place Discovery tools.

Advantages of True Email Archiving

Microsoft Exchange “archiving” is not a complete compliance and eDiscovery tool by any means. A true email archiving solution is far superior to Exchange for archiving.

The approach made by Microsoft towards eDiscovery presupposes that all email that ever passed through your organization resides on an Exchange server. The issue with this idea is data storage requirements will skyrocket over time. It is worth noting that an estimated 90 percent of the information stored in Exchange is never accessed again. True archiving removes a large chunk of that 90 percent through deduplication and archives are compressed. By doing this it reduces not only storage, but greatly increases search and recovery times.

TitanHQ has developed a solution that provides true email archiving for Exchange. ArcTitan will ensure you can achieve all your eDiscovery and data storage needs, improve the performance of your mail server, and significantly reduce email storage costs. 

Here are some of the features of the product:

  • Unlimited cloud based email archiving including inbound/outbound/internal email, folders, calendar and contacts
  • Complete Audit trail
  • Data retention and eDiscovery policy
  • Encrypted storage on AWS cloud
  • HIPAA, SOX (and more) standards compliance and Audited access trail
  • Instantly searchable via your browser - find archived emails in seconds
  • No hardware / software  required
  • Secure transfer from your email server
  • SuperFast Search™ – email compressed, Zipped, message de-duplication, attachment de-duplication allowing for the fastest search and retrieval
  • Web console access with multi-tiered and granular access options; you decide user access permissions.
  • Works with All Email Servers including MS Exchange,Zimbra, Notes, SMTP/IMAP/Google/PO
  • Optional Active Directory integration for seamless Microsoft Windows authentication
  • Optional Outlook email client plugin

If you have not yet implemented an email archiving solution, if you are unhappy with the native Microsoft Exchange email archiving features, or if you are finding your current archiving solution too expensive or difficult to use, contact TitanHQ today to find out more about the benefits of ArcTitan and the improvements it can offer to your business.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will archiving emails delete the messages from the Exchange server?

This will depend on how your Exchange server has been configured. Typically, the message will be deleted from the Exchange server once the message has been transferred to the archive and deleted from an inbox, but a copy may be retained for a period of time to allow for a backup to be created. If there are multiple copies of the same message, such as an email sent to a distribution list, a copy will remain on the server until everyone has archived and deleted the message.

Is email archiving compliant with the GDPR?

Email archiving can be GDPR-compliant with the right policies and procedures in place. Bear in mind that personal data can only be kept for as long as necessary to achieve the purpose for collecting the information and personal data, including information in email accounts, must be deleted if requested by an individual. Email retention periods must also be defined.

What happens if someone responds to an archived email?

When you have an email archiving solution in place, emails that need to be retained will be sent to the archive for long term storage and can be deleted from inboxes. If someone replies to an archived message or reactivates an old message thread, the email will simply reappear in your inbox.

Does email archiving save on storage space?

Email archiving can save a considerable amount of storage space, which can greatly improve the performance of your mail server. For example, ArcTitan typically reduces mail server email storage space by up to 80% - That means 1,000 GB of email storage space is reduced to around 200 GB.

Are there any limits on storage space with ArcTitan?

ArcTitan is 100% cloud based and provides incredibly scalability. Storage space will automatically increase as required and there are essentially no limits on storage space in the cloud, nor the number of users. You just pay for the number of active mailboxes.