• United States

Mailbag: To keep or not to keep e-mail

Jul 13, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging Apps

* Readers write in with thoughts on purging corporate e-mail

I received a lot of responses to my recent article on whether to keep all e-mail in an archive or to purge it on a regular basis. Many readers highlighted problems with purging e-mail.

Here’s a sampling:

* “I have gone back and forth on this a couple of times, but I’m now feeling that the enlightened view is ‘keep all mail.’ A standard business policy of keeping everything may be the best defense against the appearance of ‘selective’ retention and against forged e-mails. Yes, in keeping everything, you may run the risk of dirty laundry surfacing through discovery, but I assume that if a message is written, someone, somewhere probably has another copy, anyway. Better that I should know what’s out there and that I have an electronically certified copy in my own repository.”

* “Frequently, when vendors try to recant on agreements they have made, I have the e-mails to show that my company did fulfill its end of any agreements – or if we failed to, I have the exact information on where we failed so that we can rectify the problem.”

* “The real problem with the purging of e-mail is that by the very nature of it, e-mail is a communication and consequently that e-mail was either sent from or received by someone else. So do you (or the enterprise) actually assume that everyone purges their e-mail? I think not! So purging may make you feel OK, but in reality you are leaving yourself open to everyone having copies of your mail and you having destroyed your copies.”

* “Purging e-mail and/or documents is quite illegal in a number of situations with recent laws, acts and Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Why would you bring the subject up in this way, allowing the uninformed to assume they could get away with this behavior?”

Thank you to everyone who sent me their comments.