Best practice: Email archiving

GFI Software – This Best Practice is part of a collection of advice provided by information technology professionals on how they have solved various challenges, and addressed IT priorities within their organizations.


Quantum Marine Engineering, a Fla.-based company that serves a global marketplace of yacht builders.

The problem:

Faced with ever-growing mailboxes and the need to track particular emails, the company required an email archiving solution to solve these two problems which, if left unaddressed, could have caused problems and loss of business.

The solution:

Quantum Marine used GFI MailArchiver to archive all corporate email and provide easy access to old and deleted emails.

Who provided this information:

Michael H. Bartlett, Quantum Marine Engineering of Florida, Inc.

How it worked:

A customer had asked in an email to us about the suitability of a component they were using to hook up a piece of our equipment. Our sales force and technicians both were adamant about having replied, saying that what they were proposing wasn't suitable; but no one could come up with the email. Within five minutes, we found the email with GFI MailArchiver using a keyword search as well as the whole string and conversation. I also discovered the reason why no one could find it in their Exchange mailboxes: The email with the key to the puzzle had been sent through a couple of techs and finally through a department head who no one had included in the original list of possible responders.

Rules for success:

  • Communicate to the users that the archive essentially gives them an unlimited size mailbox. Help them get over "email separation anxiety."
  • Enforce the retention policy, and provide plenty of help in working the search features.

Five classic mistakes:

1. Watch out for users who for whatever reason want to have another email storage area on the file server; and instead of using the archive they drag mail to another networked storage location.

2. Watch out for a retention policy that users circumvent- see mistake #1.

3. Watch out for credit card numbers- if customers email a credit card number, it is now in an unencrypted archive.

4. Watch out for users who don't understand that the archive does not copy their Exchange mailbox when you initiate archiving, and then delete all the mail they've saved and then need a restore.

5. Watch out for SQL and make sure your database maintenance and backup/restore procedures are in place for your archive database just like you would for any other.

Best practice checklist:

Top practices that helped the project succeed.

  • Provide immediate training on the archive.
  • Communicate with the user base early that this change will be a benefit, especially as it has the effect of increasing their mailbox size.
  • Enforce the retention policy, and enforce the mailbox size policy, but as diplomatically as possible.
  • Make the link to the archive readily available, and add the folder to Outlook.

Three must-ask questions:

1. What am I archiving for? Discovery, Exchange best practices, search, regulation, or some combination of all of them.

2. How do I plan for and accommodate a second email database that could have essentially unlimited growth if the organization goes into a "keep everything forever" mode.

3. Is my archive solution going to allow exporting into PST's if I have to use it in some sort of last resort for disaster recovery?

Hindsight is 20/20:

What did you learn during the project that you wish you had known beforehand?

That I underestimated users' perception that the archive would somehow take email out of their control.

Final takeaway:

Make sure you look at archive solutions that really fit your business need- your platform, regulatory needs, potential for discovery requests, and operational concerns tied in with what is possible in your infrastructure.

Who's a candidate?

Every company that makes use of email to do business needs to manage its email correspondence. The growth of email in terms of importance and volume is starting to create storage issues for administrators. Compliance, eDiscovery and myriad other laws requiring retention of all emails for a specific period of time are forcing all companies to take email management seriously. GFI MailArchiver suits every company that uses email and addresses issues related to email management, storage problems, .PST files, compliance, eDiscovery and the retrieval of old and deleted emails. Every company, irrespective of size or industry, is today affected by one of these issues.

This Best Practice was provided by GFI Software

The ideas expressed in this article are solely those of the vendor and its client, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ITworld.

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon