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Why archiving e-mail could protect your company

Opinion
Mar 30, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging Apps

* The implications of not archiving messaging content

A defendant in Vermont was found guilty of a crime in which he traded instant messages with another individual who captured the IM conversation in a text file.  Although the defendant argued that the other person in the IM conversation had altered the archive, in February 2004 the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the archive could be considered as reliable evidence in the jury’s deliberations.

While this is an isolated case, it does point out the importance of preserving messaging related content – both e-mails and IM conversations – as a means of protecting individuals and their employers from a variety of potential problems.  For example, in a research project we conducted last year, we found that in nearly 80% of organizations, e-mail is used to confirm business transactions.  Further, we found that nearly one in four organizations has been involved in a dispute with a supplier or customer over an issue related to e-mail. 

Because e-mail is used increasingly as a means of doing business, preserving this content and being able to prove the veracity of the content of specific messages is becoming more important.

Most organizations don’t preserve e-mail in an archive, instead relying on simple backups to preserve content from the messaging system.  Further, many of these tapes are recycled after 30, 60 or 90 days, meaning that much of the content of the e-mail system is either simply erased, stored in local .PST files or otherwise not easily accessible to the organization.  What happens if you need to prove that you said something in an e-mail or, worse, what happens if you have to prove that you didn’t say something?  Without an archive, that requirement can be difficult, if not impossible.

Maintaining an archive of content from your various messaging systems can carry with it a number of risks – but not maintaining one could carry more.