Email 'Archives' Vs 'Backups': Which Is Better For Your Firm?

10 May 2022 by UV eDiscovery archives backups email

Takeaway: Archives and backups are both ways of storing old emails, but archives let you actively engage with these emails in a way that backups don’t. And this is why archiving applications are often more complicated (and expensive) than the ones that create backups. There’s a fix for this, though, because eDiscovery software can help you repurpose low-cost backups to do many of the same things as more expensive archives.

Businesses communicate largely via email, so it’s critical they develop systems for storing all this data.

Surveys estimate that up to 60% of a business’s core data is often stored as email, with more than 126 emails being sent and received daily, on average, per employee. And these same employees’ mailboxes grow by about 4 GB every year. That’s a 1-terabyte accumulation yearly for a company with 250 employees. So, email storage is fast becoming a priority for most businesses and law firms, especially since separating old and new emails will streamline employees’ (and admins’) workflow.

Here’s where ‘archives’ and ‘backups’ can help. Both store older emails, but with different levels of accessibility.

We often use the terms ‘archive’ and ‘backup’ interchangeably, but they’re slightly different when it comes to storing emails. Backups are a way of getting older emails out of the way, usually packing them into container files (e.g., PSTs for Outlook emails). These container files can then be loaded onto a backup hard drive or an alternate cloud account – a perfect fail-safe for if your network/hard drive crashes. They’re like periodic snapshots of all your data, ready for you to revert to when needed. In contrast, archives store older emails but not as ‘just in case’ files. Archives are designed for you to regularly engage with them, letting you access and search your emails for things like data analytics, data mining, data visualization, and more.

So, the key feature of archives is that your emails stay ‘active.’

Archiving involves storing a read-only copy of all your sent/received emails in a digital vault. But there are a few notable specifics. First, archives store your emails without changing their structure or metadata – so you don’t miss out on useful contextual information. (This usually means the archiving system grabs a copy of your emails before you even open them.) Second, archives protect your emails from hackers, stashing them on independent, secure servers. And third (and most importantly), they keep all the information ready for in-depth eDiscovery searches.

Cloud-based archives are gradually becoming affordable for many law firms, but they still take time to set up.

Archives have evolved to become easily accessible and affordable. It used to be that you’d need on-premises servers and an IT team for support, but now you can sign up for private or shared cloud archives. So, you won’t need to upgrade your infrastructure or troubleshoot technical issues. Still, the subscription process is a bit of a pain because you’ll need to request a quote and deal with sales/marketing calls and emails.

Ideally, we want a way of repurposing backups to have the same functionality as archives.

Smaller firms might not want to go through the hassle of building an archive when simple backup options are good enough. For instance, many applications (Office 365, Zimbra, Lotus Notes, etc.) have built-in backup options, and Gmail lets you export emails as MBOX files using Google Takeout. (Oh, and Outlook’s PST and OST files are essentially backups anyway.) So, ideally, we’d want a way of repurposing these backups to have the same functionality as archives.

Luckily, we can get quite close to this ideal by using the right eDiscovery software.

eDiscovery software can give email backups many of the same functionalities as archives. For instance:

1. Cloud eDiscovery keeps all your data easily accessible.

Cloud eDiscovery applications keep your data in centralized cloud storage – just as archives do. So, you get the same easy access, low costs (since other cloud users split the bill with you), and protection against malware like viruses, spyware, and more. (Learn more about the advantages of cloud storage.)

2. Well-designed eDiscovery applications are easy to use.

The best eDiscovery applications are easy to figure out. They use intuitive workflows so you won’t have to spend hours reading technical manuals or calling customer support. Also, if issues do pop up, your eDiscovery provider and/or their cloud provider will handle them. At your end, everything stays surprisingly simple: You’ll log into the software via their website (as you’d do with email), explore your emails by searching for keywords (as you’d do with Google), and ‘produce’ your archives if needed. (Learn more about how simple eDiscovery can be.)

3. You can search for keywords across all file types.

Archives are great because all your emails stay searchable. But the right eDiscovery application can make your backups searchable, too. Moreover, eDiscovery applications can process more than just emails, so you’ll be able to search for keywords across all kinds of file types – like PDFs, emails, Word documents, spreadsheets, etc. For instance, you’ll be able to give your search engine a targeted command like, “Find all PDF attachments that Andy Dwyer emailed to Ann Perkins before 2015. Specifically, those that mention the Pfizer meeting.” Since your software can search across file types, it’ll look for those keywords in emails and their attachments – something many other applications can’t do. Learn more about advanced searches

4. Your emails stay tamper-proof.

Another advantage of archives is that they protect an email’s original structure – keeping it pristine and untouched. Well, eDiscovery applications have protective features, too. For instance, they also can protect a backup’s metadata (i.e., its ‘digital footprint’), giving you a lot of vital contextual information. (Learn more about metadata.) And they use features like multi-factor authentication and selective user permissions to keep your data tamper-proof.

So, while archives are valuable, backups are often the simpler solution. The trick is to find the right eDiscovery software.

As we’ve seen, backups have great potential when coupled with the right eDiscovery software. For instance, GoldFynch is an online eDiscovery service that can give your email backups most of the functionalities of an archive. It has all the essential eDiscovery review tools you’ll need, accessible via a simple, user-friendly interface. Plus…

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?