E-mail archiving: obligation or freestyle? (part 1)

Part One: Introduction

Without a doubt, e-mail has fundamentally changed the business world and also private communication behavior in the last ten years. Today, business correspondence or private communication is mostly done by e-mail, as this electronic exchange of information is simple, fast and inexpensive. In many cases, the telephone is replaced by e-mail. The benefits of email are many. The email is asynchronous, which means that the recipient does not have to be online. An e-mail can address many recipients at the same time and with Bcc it can also address blindly. An email is very fast and incredibly inexpensive. Today, every second person on earth has at least one active email account (2014: 4.1 billion accounts)! In addition, the volume of email in the business world continues to grow steadily. The inbox of an employee in the upper management of an information-processing company such as a bank or insurance company can easily grow by 4000 new e-mails per month. The time spent on processing e-mails is now two hours per working day for a majority of employees. At the same time, studies show that an employee spends 1 hour per day searching for information, especially in e-mail.

With the ever-increasing importance of e-mail in the business world, the question of efficient and effective e-mail management also arises. On Amazon alone, there are more than 200 books on the subject of “e-mail management”. Another aspect of e-mail management is e-mail archiving or journaling. It is not just a matter of storing electronic messages, but also of retrieving e-mails when needed. The unchangeable and secure storage is of no use if the messages are not retrievable, presentable and readable when needed at a later time.

This article addresses the questions,

  1. whether the archiving of e-mails is mandatory – e.g. there is a legal requirement for it – and
  2. under which circumstances archiving of e-mails can be useful even without legal obligation as well as
  3. which organizational and technical requirements are necessary for archiving e-mails.

The article takes into account both the technical and legal developments of recent years and is therefore worth reading not only for beginners. This article also contains useful information for organizations that have already implemented email archiving.


Daniel Spichty



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