Email Archive Migration: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices for Defensible Results
If your organization is required to comply with ever-evolving email archiving regulations, you’re already well aware of the urgency and complexity involved in the process. After all, storing, safeguarding, and managing potentially sensitive email content is one of the biggest challenges for IT teams today—and that’s before you start talking about moving massive amounts of email archive data to the cloud.
For many IT pros, concerns about data loss, data fidelity, system downtime, and continued access to critical information during an email archive migration seem like real barriers to the process. But with the right tools and support, the process doesn’t have to be so risky—or so daunting.
While there is no one-size-fits-all regimen for every organization when it comes to email migration, certain industry best practices will help reduce costly delays and potential compliance issues.
To ensure your email archive migration is optimized, streamlined, and readily accessible when you need it most, follow our tips and tricks for some piece of mind during the process.
1. Identify and Analyze All Pain Points Before Making the Leap to a New Archive Solution
One of the most common—and most critical—mistakes that IT pros make when considering email migration technology is to attempt to solve specific problems without fully understanding how the solutions will play out for each disparate challenge.
For example, if a financial services organization is subject to a potential FINRA audit, they might initially sign on for a solution that offers email archiving in the cloud—without considering whether the migration itself will be in compliance as required by the regulation.
If you are a company in a highly regulated industry, you likely have complex data retention concerns that must be satisfied by your email archive migration service provider. It’s important to identify exactly what data needs to be retained and for what period of time it needs to be kept. From that point, you can (and should) differentiate between data that can be archived to reduce operating expenses and data that needs to be immediately accessible at all times.
Before taking the leap to your new archive solution, be sure you’ve identified all potential compliance issues and data storage challenges to ensure that your email archive migration servicer is a good fit.
2. Audit and Update Email Retention Policies—And If You Don’t Yet Have One, Create One
Having an up-to-date, effective company data retention policy is critical. Your policy should clearly:
- Specify what and whom the policy covers and why it exists;
- Describe the company data retention procedures, including email archiving and how email storage will be divided;
- Indicate the data retention timeline required for each data type;
- Clarify employees’ responsibilities under the policy;
- Specify the servicer and technology to be used for archiving and migration processes.
A comprehensive data retention policy will undergo regular updating, testing, and refreshing—especially pursuant to current compliance requirements and evolving laws and regulations. Since your email archiving and migration procedures are a natural extension of your document retention policy, maintaining it periodically should already be part of your overall compliance efforts.
3. Build in Testing Capabilities
Be sure to allocate resources for pilot testing to evaluate your migration plan before it is pushed into your production environment. This allows your IT team to gain critical visibility into any potential shortfalls and failures well in advance of the actual transition.
4. Start Implementing New Archive Procedures Immediately
Once you determine your email archive migration solution, start preparing employees right away: create training manuals, draft announcements, and organize information sessions early on in the process to get everyone on the same page.
It’s also a good time to reinforce proper password hygiene habits and encourage users to adopt stronger, more secure credentials to help ensure post-migration system integrity.
5. Ensure Data Accuracy and Fidelity
For companies in highly regulated industries, the preservation of email archive migration fidelity is of paramount importance. In order to ensure that your organization’s data is archived in a legally defensible format—and to avoid the risk that archived data will be corrupted or modified during the migration process—consider the following points:
- Will the archived email remain in its native format? Is a conversion process required that will change the data?
- Will any changes be made to the metadata?
- How are orphaned or corrupted emails processed?
- How are email stubs or shortcuts migrated?
- Will the archived email retain its original properties regardless of the migration target?
If you’re considering email archive migration in a sensitive or highly regulated environment, it’s important to identify a service provider with the expertise to tailor the process to your organization’s specific requirements.
Trusted Data Solutions’ (TDS) offers tools and services to extract data from archive systems with full chain of custody and reporting with defensible results.