What Is Email Archiving and Why Do I Need It?

November 1st, 2018

The digital era has changed many things about the way people communicate. In the case of businesses and organizations, especially in the healthcare sector, the changes have been significant. For instance, the threat of fraud and data theft is forcing businesses to keep track of all the messages shared between employees and stakeholders.

Despite the availability of multiple communication tools, email is still the most preferred option for large-scale corporate and organizational-level communication. It estimated that over 250 billion emails are sent each day.

A business with just 1000 employees can generate around 40,000 emails per day. Needless to say, that’s a phenomenal number of emails and keeping track of each one can be tedious. However, it needs to be done, considering the fact that many of those emails contain critical information. In the case of healthcare organizations, those emails can even contain confidential patient data.

Email Archiving is the Answer

It is required that healthcare providers and organizations engaging in HIPAA-compliant emails practice email archiving. Email archiving allows healthcare companies to make things easier by providing them with the confidence that their communications are protected from prying eyes, while also being accessible to authorized personnel via as needed, even during emergencies and email system outages.

How it Works

Email archiving involves securing emails within a protected repository that exists externally, i.e., not within the production email environment. All messages, outgoing and incoming, are indexed along with attachments. The contents of the email are preserved in the read-only format.

There is a core difference between email archiving and email backup. An archive is externally saved in order to serve as a historical reference. Obviously, this entails the use of reliable an redundant storage media. The archives can be stored for an infinite period and the total cost of ownership is typically low. However, data authenticity is of the utmost importance. Also, high-performance is necessary in order to access the archived data at random.

An email backup, on the contrary, involves the creation of an image/snapshot of the whole email system for the purpose of recovery. As a result, there are storage management challenges and significant costs associated with this process. Companies will be required to make use of large-capacity storage media in order to accommodate each write stream, while also reducing cost/gigabyte.  Backups also exclude email that arrives and is deleted between snapshots; archives do not.

Why is Email Archiving Necessary?

There are several reasons why organizations need to take email archiving very seriously. To begin with, it’s mandatory. All industries, including healthcare, are subject to compliance standards and regulations concerning the storage, use and transmission of data. As you already know, in the US, we have HIPAA laws for the healthcare sector.

Under HIPAA, healthcare organizations are required to follow a process that retains and protects data. Email archiving allows for this, while also simplifying access and retrieval.

Email archiving also offers organizations protection and support during legal proceedings. Legal discovery, which refers to the process of retrieving and submitting data according to requests, is a common feature in legal proceedings.

Litigation discovery can turn out to be a very expensive and extremely cumbersome process without email archiving.

Email data is also often required in situations such as a compliance audit or a business investigation. These are processes that rely heavily on documentation; email archiving makes it easier to access and find that documentation. It offers a secure storage location where content cannot be altered or changed. You can also benefit from improved support during legal holds or early case assessments.

Email archiving also boosts productivity. As stated earlier, the process makes access and retrieval or all sent and received very easy. For instance, if a certain email is deleted, a user can retrieve it almost immediately with an email archiving solution.

Email archiving also makes storage management easier. As stated before, emails often form the bulk of all organizational communication; the average organization generates a ton of data within a short time.  With the growth in data comes the reduction in available server space, i.e., if you’re using your email folders as your primary storage location for all of these communications, the performance of your email system can decline as the space used increases.

However, with all the email available in archives, there is no need to pollute your active email folders with copies of email messages that you may never need to access again. The data in the archives remains accessible even in the event of a disaster, such as a server crash. So, the threat of data loss is greatly minimized with email archiving. Storage needs are optimized as well.

An email archive system also serves as a data repository. It can be leveraged as knowledge management tool with advanced sorting capabilities, retrieval, search functions, etc.

Want to learn more about how LuxSci’s Secure Email and Archival Solutions can help with your HIPAA compliance? Contact Us