Email archiving and how it affects your business
by Pat Powers
Special to the Tribune
Email is the backbone of today’s business communication. Everything important to your business goes through your email system sooner or later. If you run a business and you haven’t noticed that yet, maybe it’s time to saddle up your horse and ride on down the trail while you let somebody else run the business. While you’re at it, you might as well find somebody who understands what email archiving is and why it’s just as important to your business as liability insurance.
Many people confuse email archiving with email backup. They are not the same and neither one does the job of the other. Backups were never intended to meet regulatory requirements or other compliance needs. They serve as a short-term insurance policy to facilitate disaster recovery, assuming they are kept offsite.
Email archiving is for retention and discovery. Discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit. Email archiving is a way of indexing and storing emails that provides quick, searchable access to emails and stores them in their original format, which, in order to meet compliance regulations, cannot be altered. Archiving also reduces the strain on your email servers and reduces your storage costs.
There is even more confusion about the laws affecting email archiving. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern civil lawsuits in U.S. District Courts and apply to every organization that can be sued, including yours.
Edward Alexi states in the Oct. 10, 2008, edition of ITWorld.com: “Remarkably, most business operators don’t realize they must comply with the Federal Regulations on Civil Procedures, or FRCP. In this instance, ignorance is far from bliss. It could put you and your organization in serious legal trouble, if the requested electronically stored information is not produced when requested by courts.”
Suppose someone sues you claiming discrimination or harassment between them and your manager four years ago, continuing for six months. The court will request all related records for those six months and you have 30 days to provide them.
If you did not have a dedicated email archiving solution in place during that time, you will not be able to provide them in 30 days, if at all. The court will assume you have something to hide and rule accordingly.
There is precedent for this scenario and it can be exceedingly expensive, in both financial and public relations terms. Remember, saved or backed up emails don’t count because they can be changed and you won’t be able to find them all anyway.
Using Exchange 2010’s archiving capabilities won’t cut it either. If you don’t believe that, ask Microsoft.
There are additional email regulations that may or may not apply to your organization: the HIPAA Act of 1996 for health care; SEC Rule 17A-4 for brokers and dealers; FINRA for the financial industry and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 for publicly owned companies.
In essence, it’s like car insurance; there’s no law that says you have to have comp and collision – and it works just fine to save money by not buying insurance – until you have an accident and a $30,000 repair bill on your $40,000 vehicle. Then you will wish you had insured yourself against such a loss. The stakes for your business are much higher in the email archiving game.
Most small businesses can install an easy to use, dedicated Email Archiving solution in about an hour for $5,000 to $10,000, depending on how many email users they have. Just like your liability insurance, you might wish you had.
On the other hand, if you’re saddling up that horse, you’re not in the 21st century anyway so let the manager do his/her job and don’t worry about it. Enjoy the ride.
Pat Powers, Ph.D., is an account executive at Intradyn (Intradyn.com), a 10-year-old Email Archiving Company in Eagan. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org.