The convenience of e-mail and its resulting pervasive use means that most organizations are maintaining large volumes of it. This poses several problems:
- Despite the continuing drop in prices for electronic storage, continued storage of large volumes of e-mail imposes significant costs on an organization.
- The administrative issues of managing millions or billions of very informal data objects, created with little or no attention to formal structuring or indexing, make systematic recovery of them challenging and expensive
- The stored e-mail is subject to legal process, requiring searches that may prove very difficult and expensive.
These issues have made the question of e-mail retention one of the cutting-edge issues in information management and risk management. There are two primary general philosophical approaches to dealing with this issue:
- the blanket cut-off approach, in which all e-mail is retained for some period – 60 days, 90 days, 1 year, etc. – and then deleted en mass
- the e-mail-as-a-record approach, in which each e-mail is categorized by subject matter and given a retention period based upon that subject matter.
This ARMA International Educational Foundation research paper discusses these approaches, their advantages and disadvantages, and the legal doctrines around them that will help the reader determine which approach is the most sound.
PDF download, French, 48 pages, 2003
The Spanish version of this publication is available here.
The English version of this publication is available here.
Note: This publication is being made available on behalf of the ARMA International Educational Foundation (AIEF). A copy of this order will be provided to the AIEF.