IT time wasters: Why you should take a second look at your email archiving

 In Solutions

No matter how hard you try, it’s seemingly impossible to solve the problem of an overloaded inbox. Organizing the endless onslaught of emails is a daunting task, and just isn’t a high priority for most users.

IT, of course, sees it all a little differently. It’s not just a matter of storage and security, but compliance as well. If your company is audited, or your lawyers need specific emails because of a pending legal case, how will they access those important documents?

For some organizations, emails can only be retrieved with a great deal of effort and no small amount of detective work among stacks of tape backups. Others stick to external hard drives and other manual backup practices, carrying out archiving so ineffectively that it could take hours — maybe even days — to access the emails needed.

How can organizations take a smart and effective approach to email archiving? How can they pull up important old emails no problem while minimizing the time they spend backing up everyone’s correspondence? By reviewing your backup procedures and enacting a few new practices, you can put this classic IT time waster to bed once and for all.

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When backups become a big waste of time

We’re all familiar with the importance of backing up our data, but how we actually do that can vary organization by organization. Some might not even have a data backup solution to automate the process and maintain a single, updated version of files.

Email accounts in particular generate huge amounts of data that IT has to manage on the back end, and that eats up resources, time, space, and ultimately money. If a specific file needs to be located, the act of combing through this data requires considerable skill and a lot of man-hours from your IT team.

In some cases we’ve seen, customers are still using tape as their primary form of backup. Though using tape to backup static data can be a cheaper, faster, and more mobile option, it has its downsides; tape’s slow access speeds can hamper data-searching efforts. On average tape restoration takes about one terabyte per hour, and the type of data as well as whether or not the data is compressed can also impact restore rate. In addition, in-house system changes can make the tapes outdated and incompatible with new hardware and software.

Beyond that, some companies use external drives, notorious for being slow and ineffective, to conduct backups. We’ve had a few business leaders tell us that they pay an employee to drive external hard disks back and forth between locations as their backup procedure.

Step one is using deduplication

Email archiving can produce an extensive amount of data, so companies should first examine solutions that offer deduplication. Deduplication uses intelligent compression (sometimes called single-instance data) that creates incremental backups and eliminates redundant data. The result is smaller archive files compared to a full backup. Deduplication saves one copy of a data file, and replaces all other copies with a map that points to the original copy, saving valuable storage space.

This process frees up space on the company’s primary storage systems and colocation centers, and allows an IT administrator more time to focus on strategic needs.

Finding the right mix of solutions

While deduplication is becoming more prevalent, many companies, especially small businesses, still haven’t adopted an automated, efficient archiving solution yet. Many large organizations have adopted the “Cadillacs” of solutions that, though they carry a high price tag, will conduct all the necessary deduplication and backups automatically on site. We’ve seen many larger organizations adopting a cloud-based option to couple with their disaster recovery center, as well.

That same Cadillac option might be excessive, or just too expensive, for a small business. A number of small business owners use multiple solutions — one for email archiving and another for full backups, for example — and while this piecemeal approach might be cost efficient, it still might not be the best method for all.

Organizations should also reflect on regulatory requirements and internal policies when shopping for a proper backup solution. An organization that’s required to keep specific data for a certain number of years has a different set of needs than a company without those requirements, which might simply need a backup solution with deduplication.

One option for small businesses is using a cloud storage system that pushes data right to the cloud. A soup-to-nuts cloud software solution automates the process and is relatively simple for a small business to use and understand. But ultimately your needs will be dictated by your users, data, and requirements.

Why backups and archives are a smart move

Though an IT department might have a handful of tools for archiving email accounts, those solutions might not be cutting it. If you’re doing full backups of all email accounts, and not employing deduplication, your IT department is left with vast amounts of data that could take days or weeks to sort through.

A fine-tuned data backup process eliminates unnecessary data storage, and automates the process. By using automated processes and safeguards, proper email backups can be achieved without becoming a hassle, leaving IT professionals to manage the entire ecosystem more effectively.

Because all organizations have unique needs, we suggest discussing the variety of solutions available with your SHI Account Executive.

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