Email is still the most dominant form of communication. Both email backups and email archiving are critical for any company’s business continuity plan (BCP). In this article we’ll explore what they are good for, and how they complement each other.

What's an email backup?

An email backup – or any backup for that matter – is a snapshot of your data at a specific time. Let’s say you backup your data daily, so in case of a hardware failure or data corruption you may lose up to 1 day of emails. However, the majority of your data is safe in the backups.

Know that your backups are as good as your restores, so be sure to test your backups periodically by restoring data to another computer. If anything goes unexpected, then there’s still time to fix your backup or restore procedure.

What's an email archive?

While backup happens periodically, email archiving is a real time process. Your mail server is configured to pass a copy of each received email to the archive. So as long as your archive is up and running no email is lost even in case of a mail server failure.
 
The email archive not only captures emails, it also indexes them, and makes them searchable. In contrast an email backup is not indexed nor searchable.
 
Usually you keep a specific number of email backups, eg. 30, available before recycling the backup media. It means that you cannot restore the state of the mail server more than 30 days ago. Now, what if a user accidentally deletes an important email today? It will be lost from the backups 30 days later. This is not acceptable in a regulated industry when you must be able to present any relevant email based on retention policies. An email archive implements a long term storage of your emails solving these problems.
 
An email backup plays a role in disaster recovery, while an email archive solves your compliance and regulatory needs.

The benefits of email archiving

1. Email archiving reduces the load on your email servers
 
If all your emails are archived, then you may keep only the last X months of data on the mail server, and anything older can be found in the archive. Less email data on the mail server improves its performance, and reduces the backup time as well. You can restore the less data faster in case of a restore procedure.
 
2. Email archiving reduces your storage costs
 
A well rounded email archive deduplicates emails and attachments, and stores any email in a single copy. Compression also helps to spare disk space even further. So an email archive can store 1 GB of emails even on a few 100 MBs (depending on the usage pattern).
 
3. Email archiving improves staff productivity
 

End users are allowed to self service themselves freeing up IT human resources. If a user accidentally deletes his email, then he simply logs in to the archive, and restore the missing email with a few clicks. No more IT tickets, and frustrating waiting.

Final words

There’s one final question. Should you backup your email archive? Definitely yes. It doesn’t matter if it’s an on-premise archive or it’s in the cloud. Accidents may happen at both places. Be sure to prepare to them.

I hope I convinced you that both email backup and email archiving are crucial components of a well rounded disaster recovery plan. You probably backup your emails already. Let’s connect if you need email archiving as well.