I back up my email servers on a regular basis -- can't I just use those as an archive?

That's the most asked question when I'm doing seminars; aren't my backup tapes my archive? A user may be relying on tapes that way, but they're not necessarily the best solution for an archive

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Email archiving information
Archive or backup?

Choosing a compliance archiving tool 

Archiving unstructured data
A backup is usually a disaster recovery (DR) copy or image of a system (e.g., an email system, a file system, shares, etc.) and it's a proprietary format of the entire system or server that you're protecting. Companies that use backups as archives often find that the backups are virtually impossible to search for files or emails of interest, particularly in the event of legal discovery requests. With backup tapes, the company would need to restore each backup to a dummy server and locate the needed emails manually. An email archive allows you to store and locate individual messages through indexing -- there's no need to search entire servers.

Backup tapes and archives both serve useful purposes, but an archive is a way to store and search email more efficiently. As a rule, a backup tape is not an archive and should not be viewed that way.

Listen to the Email archiving FAQ audiocast here.

Go back to the beginning of the Email Archiving FAQ Guide.

This was first published in October 2006

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