Should you archive or backup your emails?

What’s the difference between archives and backups, and which is the correct option for your organization? For a long time, backup software has been the go-to option for companies. At the same time, archives offer possibilities that backup systems cannot necessarily match. So the question remains – should you archive or backup your emails?

What advantages does a backup present?

The biggest advantage of backups is that they take up relatively little space and are relatively simple. A typical backup gives your data a measure of protection by periodically creating a copy. This copy is overwritten whenever a new one is made, and can be restored in the event that the live system is compromised or suffers data loss of any kind. As a component of disaster recovery, they are indispensable.

In this way, backups have long been a requirement for organizations or individuals looking to maintain data security; it allows a measure of peace and mind, knowing that there is a way to roll back accidental changes, inadvertent deletions, or malicious file corruption through cyberattacks.

At the same time, fully restoring a backup is a slow and tedious process. Furthermore, the small data footprint of backup systems comes as a consequence of limited or nonexistent versioning. Due to this, backups cannot perform two critical tasks – they cannot perform long-term retention tasks (which are increasingly legally mandated worldwide), and they cannot unburden your mailboxes and servers by reducing data load.

What’s the difference between an archive and a backup?

Email archiving is a systematic approach to preserving emails, including attachments. Generally, an email archive solution stores email data safely, stopping users from modifying or deleting emails from the archive and preserving them for a preset period.

These stored emails and attachments are kept outside the live server or production environment, either on the cloud or on a separate server. After being stored away, they are indexed to remain searchable and retrievable on demand.

This approach differs from a backup in several crucial points, the most key being in the searchability and flexibility of the system. While a backup is able to act as the last line of defense in the event of a data compromising event and backstop your disaster recovery plan, the only recourse one has in that case is to fully restore the backup, overwriting the production environment with an earlier version. It is not possible or at least not simple to retrieve individual emails, files and attachments.

Email archiving software can supplement or replace simple backups

Email archives  come with a number of advantages that make them a more powerful tool for modern organizations – chief among them being that they capture more than a single instance of the live system at any given time, allowing for versioning as well as long term document retention.

This allows archives to fill a far more complex role and fulfil legal requirements. Under modern eDiscovery laws, companies are expected to be able to not only retain proprietary information but also to be able to identify and produce it at a moment’s notice (or conversely, in the case of Right to be Forgotten rules, to be able to delete it on request). An archive, being searchable, can fill this requirement where a backup cannot.

Besides this, archiving has an important additional benefit – reducing data load on the production system and live email servers. Offloading data to an archive allows you to delete defunct mailboxes or older emails from your live server, knowing that the information remains accessible. This lightens the load on the live server, improving responsiveness. Additionally, it has the potential to reduce costs; organizations can maintain access to ex-employees mailboxes without maintaining the licenses and you can take emails off highly performant, high-cost memory and add them to a low-cost alternative. Both of these are important aspects of reducing overhead and operating costs.

What should you look for in choosing an archive and backup?

As should be evident from the features and advantages outlined above, the thing that gives archives their utility over backups is twofold: their ability to set long-term retention policies, thus maintaining a tamper-proof record of your internal information, as well as easy searchability facilitating end user access to required files, emails and attachments.

For the latter, a powerful and flexible search system is imperative. An email archiving solution with proper indexing abilities can save you time and effort in locating individual files, emails and attachments. They can provide search and browse tools with sub-search capabilities and even provide more metadata types, so you can get more relevant results. And this way, you can find all the data you need in the blink of an eye.

For the former, the key is transparency for the system administrator team, good controls over setting policies for retention and deletion, as well as oversight regarding end user access and manipulation. This allows organizations to strike an optimal balance between streamlining end-user productivity and maintaining security for the system.

Choose the correct archive and backup solution with contentACCESS

TECH-ARROW’s contentACCESS archive and backup provides the optimal solution for organizations looking to secure their critical information while maintaining ease of access and productivity for the end user. Our powerful full-text search system allows users to search within the archive with ease for both emails, attachments and other files, streamlining the discovery process. Furthermore, contentACCESS allows easy access through a variety of sources, including our Outlook integration, mobile app and online web portal. Continue working with archived files, from the office or on the move!

With combined decades of archiving experience, TECH-ARROW is ready to take our clients and partners to the next level. Our archive and backup solution leverages this experience to continue advancing and adapting to the newest needs of an ever-changing market.

If your organization is ready to begin preparing for future challenges – contact us! Our team is ready and waiting to be in touch and help you discover the correct options and possibilities to best meet your use case. Schedule your cost-free consultation today! Archive smarter – with TECH-ARROW.


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by Matúš Koronthály