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The Biggest Email Archiving Errors

Email archiving is a hot topic for IT pros, who face increased pressure to save any sort of potential evidence to meet regulatory or legal mandates. But creating a system for storing email -- and making it searchable -- can be a tough undertaking.

Just ask Richard Taylor, senior systems programmer for Clark County, Nevada, who says he faced "much more work" when his team's initial decisions about archived email turned out to be "short-sighted."

"The biggest problem we ran into was allowing expediency to overcome due diligence as far as setting limits, quotas, and space considerations... This has resulted in having to do much more work, only because we either weren't allowed to ask the right questions or didn't know the right questions to ask," Taylor states. While he's pleased to have a system today that includes EMC EmailXtender and IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager, among other products, getting there was fraught with lessons learned.

What were those lessons? Based on the experiences of Taylor and others, with input from various industry sources, we've gathered the following list of email archiving's biggest "boo boos":

  • Storing too much email. A frequent problem involves the storage of what some sources call "bacn," or email that's not personal but isn't spam, either. Examples include newsletters, advertisements from companies with relationships to the sendee, various HR emails, and so forth.

    The answer to bacn may be the same as the answer to spam, which is filtering. Several service providers claim to offer solutions, including Zantaz (now Autonomy), Fortiva, and MessageGate. According to MessageGate, 10 percent to 30 percent of email is bacn that winds up clogging the inbox and negatively impacting search results. Other vendors filter on image files or offer alternative products for in-house use.

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