Types of Email Archive: Comparing the Benefits of Each Method

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digital representation of an envelope signifying email archive

An email archive is essential for businesses to stay compliant with laws and regulations connected to their specific operations. As such, all businesses require different types of email archive solutions to accommodate their archiving, storing, and backup needs. 

Below, we’ll look at different options for email archiving, highlight their biggest strengths and drawbacks, and help you decide on the right one.

Types of Email Archive

Before choosing an email archiving option, think about the features you need. Some archiving solutions offer assistance with legal compliance, while others focus more on data collection and organization.

With all the different types of email archives available today, each with its own specific features and benefits can help organizations and businesses choose the one that fits their needs best.

Cloud-based email archive

A cloud-based approach refers to archiving and storing emails on a cloud server. This is the most cost-effective option for small businesses with 10 to 50 employees, as the amount of data that needs to be stored is not that large. In addition, cloud-based services are managed by the cloud service provider, i.e., a third-party provider; all businesses have to do is pay a monthly rate for upkeep and management. 

Pros:

  • The responsibility falls on the cloud service provider
  • Email recovery features
  • Cost-effective 

Cons:

  • Costs grow with the size of your company
  • No control over the security measures

On-premises email archive 

This type of archive is stored on a self-contained appliance on the business premises. This archive solution is best for businesses with a daily stream of messages with sensitive information. Businesses that handle PHI data can fully monitor how and where the data is stored and for how long.

Pros:

  • All emails are stored internally
  • The business has full control over data migration and retention
  • The safest method by far

Cons:

  • Requires an IT team
  • Large upfront costs.

Hybrid email archive

A hybrid email archive makes use of both on-premise and cloud archiving strategies. For a company working with a large influx of emails, it’s sometimes best to store a portion of the data on-site and the rest on an external drive or cloud. 

Pros:

  • Multiple ways to store data
  • Lets you keep particularly sensitive information within the premises and outsource everything else
  • Divides the workload

Cons:

  • Complex in terms of data division.

Mailbox-level email archive

This type of email archive involves pulling and storing data from individual inboxes. It’s ideal for businesses that need to archive emails from specific employees or departments within their organization but also for organization-wide archiving. Emails are archived regularly from the moment they reach the recipient’s inbox.

Pros: 

  • Allows you to pick and choose which emails to store
  • Minimizes data storage use
  • The ability to delete specific emails from users’ inboxes after they’ve been stored

Cons:

  • May complicate the archiving process by pulling data from multiple sources
  • Not immune to tampering by users.

Journaling email archive 

A journaling email archive copies all messages sent within an organization and stores them in a separate folder indefinitely. This can be done both on the premises and on the cloud.

You can choose between blanket journaling and granular journaling. The former lets you copy all recorded communication within your organization, while the latter lets you copy data only from select departments or individuals.

Pros:

  • Historical email access
  • Keyword search capabilities
  • No lost emails 

Cons:

  • Creates a logjam of unfiltered emails
  • No option for single-instance storage.

Compliance-focused email archive

For companies in compliance with federal acts like HIPAA and SOX, a compliance-focused email archive has additional features that can help these organizations manage sensitive data better. 

For example, it might allow businesses to search and report on encrypted and plaintext content. There also might be management tools within the email archive that allow businesses to keep track of and audit messages, helping them keep up with changing practices enforced by the respective federal laws.

Pros:

  • Simplifies process compliance
  • Tamper-proof archive
  • Long-term data retention for fulfilling audit requirements

Cons:

  • Designed for a specific use case
  • Unnecessary for businesses that don’t handle large loads of sensitive information

PST-file-based email archive

Using this file format for email archiving can be handy if you’re used to a more old-school approach to data storage. PST files have been around for a long time, and many archiving solutions still support them due to their ease of use and convenience. They can be stored almost anywhere – desktops, laptops, removable media, local networks, etc.

Pros:

  • Easily transportable
  • Ability to create your own filing system
  • Ability to sift through emails using keywords

Cons:

  • Easily corrupted
  • Outdated
  • Makes it easy for data to be copied on a separate drive and be stolen.

How Can I Choose the Most Suitable Type of Email Archive for My Organization’s Needs?

The truth is, there’s no one-stop-shop solution for archiving. Organizations decide on a type of email archive based on the company size, payment options, security measures, etc. Therefore, it’s important to weigh your options before settling on one.

What factors should be considered when choosing an email archive solution? Here are some of the most important ones to help you make the right decision:

Company size

Smaller businesses with a couple of dozen employees may benefit from cloud-based solutions since they usually charge per seat (meaning per employee). However, this becomes a problem for enterprises with hundreds or thousands of employees since the costs pile up quickly. For such companies, email archiving on the premises is best.

Compliance requirements

Hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, and publicly traded companies are all businesses that are required to comply with a collection of laws. Keeping up to date with the newest changes and controlling the flow of sensitive data is very difficult and risky without proper support. Compliance-focused email archives are best in this case.

Presence of an IT infrastructure

If you don’t have the necessary hardware and software on the premises to store data locally, it’s easier and cheaper to choose a cloud service provider. On the other hand, businesses with an established IT team may benefit from on-premises archiving. 

Option for copying individual data

Some email archiving practices, like journaling, let you store only specific inboxes within your organization. This comes in handy when you don’t want to replicate loads of data, saving you storage space.

Conclusion

The types of email archive solutions all differ in the level of data protection, cost, and storage options.

Some methods, such as PST files, are definitely more outdated than others. However, this email archive requires no training since it’s been around for a while. On the other hand, archiving on company premises involves a steep learning curve that’s impossible without trained IT staff. A hybrid option may be ideal for combining the features of external and internal email storage. 

Ultimately, the right software for your business should offer a set of advantages that will help you manage your emails better while improving efficiency and reducing costs.

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