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Compliance, eDiscovery and Email Management

The Danger of PST Files: What Your Organization Should Know About Archiving PST Files

PST files can pose a major risk to your organization. The reasons are too many to count. From data theft to potential server bloat and everything in between, the impact PST files can have on your business cannot be overstated.

This is why it’s crucial in today’s digital world to rid your organization of the need for PST files and instead employ a more practical solution for keeping your emails safe, secure and most importantly — easily searchable.

But before we get into that, let’s first look at the origin of PST files and why they pose a danger to your organization.

What are PST Files?

Microsoft Outlook uses Personal Storage Table (PST) files to store all Outlook data, such as emails, electronic documents and calendar entries. Unlike information that is stored on servers like Microsoft Exchange, a PST file is stored on a user’s hard drive or corporate file server. End users typically start saving their emails in PST files when email quotas are enacted and they need a way to store their information without going against company policy.

While PST files are not bad in themselves, a PST file stored on a user’s hard drive or corporate file server is out of the control of the IT department. These files are not backed up and could be missing when a discovery request arrives. Additionally, they are prone to data loss, data corruption and simply being deleted by mistake.

The Problem with PST Files and How Archiving Can Help

PST files have made managing email systems incredibly cumbersome — especially in terms of storage capacity. The following are few of the biggest problems that come along with PST files:

Compliance

  • Problem Businesses Face: Archiving email is absolutely necessary in today’s business world as a result of federal, state and industry email retention laws. These laws and regulations essentially mean nothing electronic that might be relevant for litigation can be deleted and it’s up to your organization, whether public, private or governmental agency, to ensure this occurs.
  • How Archiving Can Help: An email archiving solution can help ensure you’re always in compliance with the various laws and regulations. Email archiving allows you to quickly search and produce emails within a specific range of dates and single out the records that are tied to a particular issue.  Additionally, email archiving is the perfect tool for governmental agencies that must respond to Right to Know requests, in addition to the various other sunshine laws and regulations. An archiver can help you respond to these requests in a timely manner.

eDiscovery: Legal Storage Issues

  • Problem Businesses Face: All business-related PST files are regarded as company records. Storing these files on multiple employee laptops makes it practically impossible to find a particular file if needed for litigation. Having to search PST files for a legal proceeding uses valuable employee time and relevant records could be lost, leading to legal problems and attorney fees. In addition, employees who save PST files often archive the data longer than stated in company policy, which can put the company at risk of inadequately preserving electronic data.
  • How Archiving Can Help: An email archiving solution gives you the capability to place a legal hold on any and all emails that pertain to an eDiscovery request or anything else related to litigation — meaning the emails in the PST files that may be silo’d across your organization are actually in one centralized and secure location. Additionally, legal hold allows you to not only hold on to emails for longer periods of time than your typical retention period, but also enables you to capture emails in real time that may pertain to the litigation your company is involved in.

Lost Data

  • Problem Businesses Face: PST files locally store the company’s important data like customer information, product data, employee information, financial data and product information. Storing PST files on employee’s laptops or personal workstations limits the ability of IT personnel to quickly search and manage critical business data. When storing company emails in PST files they can be lost if the user leaves the company or the laptop crashes, never to be found again.
  • How Archiving Can Help: An all-encompassing email archiving solution ensures that every single email sent and received through your server is safe and secure — no matter if it is “lost” due to accidental or intentional deletion. All the emails in the current PST files can be imported into the archiving solution and PST files can be safely deleted.

Security

  • Problem Businesses Face: Another problem with PST files is the security issue. Most laptop files are not encrypted, which makes it easier for unauthorized users to get at the company’s files.
  • How Archiving Can Help: Hosted email archive security and encryption protects all your company’s data — ensuring not only is it safe from getting in the hands of the wrong people, but also secure from any disaster that should occur.

Server Bloat and Slow Down

  • Problem Businesses Face: Personnel who create PST files often keep several copies of the same document, which adds to the company’s storage problem. When hundreds of employees backup hundreds of emails each day, this puts an enormous strain on the performance of the company’s servers. For instance, if a single PST file is one gigabyte and is automatically backed up on a daily basis, it consumes 365 gigabytes of space for the year. That’s a lot of pressure on a backup storage server for only one end user. Imagine that compounded for every employee across your organization.
  • How Archiving Can Help: If you’re server is overloaded with PST files, you can begin to delete the backlog of emails knowing full well that they are stored safely in the archiver. This, as a result, will improve the performance of your backup storage server — which in turn will make your IT department very happy.

Corrupted Files

  • Problem Businesses Face: PST files have a 2GB limit and when the saved files get close to the maximum storage space, the data can become corrupted. Although PST files have a recovery capability, it is not sufficient to recover most corrupted files, resulting in complete loss of company data.
  • How Archiving Can Help: Even if the PST files stored on your server are corrupted, an email archiving solution will have saved the original email in its entirety and make it available for viewing.

Control

  • Problem Businesses Face: Organizations that allow the end-user, aka an employee, the ability to decide what can and cannot be deleted are usually left in a tough spot when it comes time to find an email for litigation. This is especially true when it comes to PST files that are stored on individual computers.
  • How Archiving Can Help: An email archiving solution allows administrators to turn off the ability for end users to create PST files on their own. This allows administrators total control over where all copies of emails are stored, which is incredibly valuable in terms of compliance in case of eDiscovery requests.

Accessibility

  • Problem Businesses Face: When an employee creates a PST file on their computer, this in turn makes it more challenging to access that information should an employee delete or misplace the file.
  • How Archiving Can Help: Instead of having your organization’s emails in a variety of different locations (e.g. end users accounts, desktops, hard drives etc.), an email archiving solution stores emails in one safe and secure location — thereby giving an administrator complete accessibility if an eDiscovery request should arise.

Another obvious benefit of using an email archiving solution is the space it creates and saves on your email server, something that should positively impact the performance of your email server.

Once all of this is in place it’s crucial to implement an email retention policy that clearly outlines your organizations email archiving policy.

Contact us at Intradyn for information on an email archiving solution to reduce the storage costs and stress on your servers, as well as instant access to enormous volumes of emails and electronic documents for eDiscovery regulations.

Intradyn’s Email Archiving Solution:

  • Can be installed in minutes and keep you compliant for years
  • Reduces storage space & the associated expense for email back ups
  • Provides 99.999% up time – no hassles, no worries
  • Provides quick recovery, high performance and trouble free searches
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