Wikipedia’s definition of email archiving is: “Email archiving is a systematic approach to saving and protecting the data contained in email messages so it can be accessed quickly at a later date.”
Pretty straight forward, but why would a user need it? What are the benefits? For an individual user that has strong organizational skills, the benefit won’t be that great. However, if you lack the skill (or time) to organize your own emails, archiving can be a great solution. Think about it, you have that contract confirmation from your wireless company from two years ago somewhere, but can’t remember where you put it. If you have an email archive in place, you should be able to find it with a few keystrokes.
Where email archiving really comes into its own is within a company. Companies have been using email archiving for years, because it saves time and money. If you’re an employee that needs to pull up an email from a year ago that deals with a problem (that comes up about once a year), just go to the Archive and use the same email that you used last year. No need to type out the four pages of documentation to solve the problem, it’s all right there. Saving the user, and in turn the company, time and money.
Another big reason that companies invest in email archive systems is to remain in compliance with the law. Many industries require companies to retain documents for years (sometimes more than 5) The overwhelming growth in electronic communication has not diminished the requirement to retain these documents and they should be available when a regulating body requests them. This is the time and money saving power of the archive. Companies are able to implement an enterprise-wide solution to maintain all digital communication. Even without the legal requirement, Archive solutions are still a good idea for a company. If you have a disaster, your own email archive will be fully recoverable from your own system. So why wouldn’t you archive?