Email Retention Policy: Why Businesses Need to take it Seriously


“Communication is the lifeline of an organization”

Communication is a very important aspect of any organization, helping to create a cohesive working environment to achieve organizational goals.

In the era of technology, communication and interactions have moved to various forms of electronic communications, of which, email has become the mainstream and official form of communication. A myriad of important document exchanges ranging from offer letters, financial statements from the banks, property documents, unique identity services, authorization and authentication systems, now happen over email.

This makes the organization, protection, storage and retention of emails extremely important from a personal and professional point of view.

What is Email Retention?

Email retention involves the storing of historical email with on-demand retrieval and recovery as per the predefined policy and rules of the concerned organization. Email messages are maintained in a logical manner for a specified period of time.

Policy Precedes all Actions

An Email retention policy helps in defining the period for which the emails will be present in the individual mailboxes after which they will be removed.

This policy also covers ways to recover the older emails in case of litigation or dispute. It improves the performance of the email system without increasing the operational complexities.

It facilitates effective knowledge management which eventually leads to business improvements and increased productivity. Let’s take a look at some more reasons in favor of an email retention policy.

Top Reasons Why an Email Retention Policy is a Must

1. Data Preservation and Protection

Official business communications often happen over email, sometimes carrying sensitive information in the form of attachments. These attachments can be anything from a customer service commitment to an official service contract. If the contract or related email gets misplaced then the stakeholders are left at the mercy of good faith, and have to bear the consequences.

2. Intellectual Property Rights Protection

It is commonly seen that employees discuss not only product or service features with each other, but also share technical specifications for feedback and development. Thus maintaining adequate data security is a must. There have been cases where company email servers have been hacked and valuable insights into finances, business plans and product details have been stolen. Such incidences are an impediment to individual as well as organizational growth.

3. Cyber Threats

Emails are the treasure trove of organizations and hence the computer systems become the primary target of the hackers. These attacks come in different forms like ransomware, malware, virus, worms to name a few. A retention policy thus helps systematically maintain all the emails in batches on a cloud system as a backup and therefore, in case a cyber attack wipes out your PC, all your emails can be recovered safely. Hassle-free email tracking and recovery ensures continuity in business and assures growth.

4. Regulatory Compliances

Companies in certain sectors such as ‘Health Care’, deal in voluminous patient records which are sensitive and valuable. Therefore, regulatory bodies like the US department of Health and Human Services have put in place mechanisms and compliance standards such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley which the companies have to adhere to.

5. Litigation and eDiscovery Support

Innovation is the heart and soul of every organization and thus it must be protected with top most priority.

In case of misuse or theft of the idea, the company must be in a position to trace the method of theft and emails can help establish the ‘subtle/casual’ yet important communication ‘references’ to pin down the culprit.

From IP theft to contractual disputes to insider trading, the ability to trace communications leading up to the case is critical in any investigation.

In case of a lawsuit, lawyers are required to search and discover evidence from the complete email stack of an individual. Non-compliance with such requests leads to penalty and punishment. So ability to retrieve older emails in an organized manner is very important. eDiscovery is a system which helps in easy search, location and retrieval.

Moreover, eDiscovery works offline as well. eDiscovery is widely used as an industry standard tool at the legal and HR teams’ disposal.

6. Internal Dispute Settlements

When a group of individuals communicate and work together, there are bound to be contentions and disputes. Email can help enforce accountability in the day to day tasks.

In case of disputes like stakeholder mapping, project management and delivery, emails help in tracking each stakeholder with the assigned commitments and thus helps maintain efficient work.

7. Organizational Competence

Organizational Competence is built over discussions, information and plans spanning long periods of time requiring huge efforts. Much of this is captured in the daily exchange of email. The storage of emails should be such that it is difficult to breach and at the same time it is easy to uncover valuable information easily, as and when required for reference. Email retention ensures that the entire knowledge repository is secure and easily accessible. A reliable email archiving solution helps you successfully comply with the email retention policy. Here are a few points to keep in mind while selecting a cloud email archiving solution:

Compatibility: The archiving solution should integrate with your email client.

Capacity to ingest past emails (using PST files) that existed before the new solution is installed.

Data redundancy is a must have: Company data should be spread over a number of data centers to cover the risk in case of natural or artificial calamities.

Help complying with government mandates like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley to avoid any future risk of legal issues

Swift archiving, search and retrieval: It should be operable by an everyday non -IT user equally easily.

Provide high data security and availability since it is critical to business continuity.


**This article was first published on Vaultastic.


Also published on Medium.