Written by Robin Bingeman on

LONDON – During the past year we have bared witness to the problems companies can face if it is found that emails, especially those that contain evidence, have been deleted or entire archives of backup tapes have been destroyed. While some companies assume they are free to delete emails as they see fit, there are regulations in place that state how long an email record must be preserved.

The types of emails that must be preserved for a certain length of time as determined by law include:

    – An email containing official business between employees.
    – An email sent to a third party that discusses official business.
    – Emails that are an extension of a phone conversation, such as a note to add something to a file. This applies to internal and third party recipients.
    – The use of emails that are private in nature, but sent using the organisation’s resources.

How long a document must be retained depends on the type of document it is and the nature of the business conducted by the company. Some companies that deal with contracts are required to preserve all documents for the length of the contracts – sometimes 30 years, plus seven years after expiration. The criteria for preservation of such documents are set by law, regulatory bodies and industry best practice.

“I can list more than 100 examples off the top of my head where an organisation failed to have proper policies in place regarding preservation of email correspondences,” said Robin Bingeman of the Email archiving appliance Cryoserver. “Sometimes it’s not the act of not having an archive in place; it’s that the company was improperly using it.”

Good email archives let privileged users set the criteria for preservation, but once in the archive, the emails cannot be manipulated or deleted. Archives are designed to store, in real time, all emails sent to, from and within an organisation. This means users do not manually select which emails to save and which to delete—they are all saved. In the event of an email investigation the organisation is able to produce the original email and determine if what is being accused really occurred.

“Unless the original email is retained, users can edit it, delete it and alter the names of the people whom it was addressed and sent to,” the archiving appliance provider said. “However, if the company is able to provide the original email, then the edited version will not hold its weight in court.”

Having the right archive in place can save your business, said the specialist of archiving software, which offers clients tools for email archiving. With an archive like Cryoserver, we can prove that all emails in the archive have not been tampered with and what is in the archive is the native file.

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