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Email retention is the retention of instant messaging records and email in an organization based on the policies of the concerned organization. The email retention policy is made in compliance with industrial, government or business policies. Email retention and the policies concerning the same are required in an organization for legal concerns, regulations and for knowledge management.
Email retention is different from email archiving. While archiving allows business users to retain email and instant messages for an indefinite time frame, email retention determines the amount of time an email or instant message record should be retained before it is automatically deleted. Longer email retention increases the security risk of having an unauthorized user gain access to organizational secrets or confidential material. Shorter email retention would help in removing these issues and is easier and less costly to implement. However, it would be at a cost to the executives and long-term employees, who might need old email and message records to remember or evaluate past organizational or departmental decisions. It is thus important to have an email retention policy which is uniform and consistent for the organization and provides the best retention time frame. The best practice is to set the email retention policies and deletion criteria based on the category of the email content along with flexibility to accommodate litigation holds in a timely and cost-effective fashion.
Email retention policies help an organization in many ways. First, it ensures all the regulatory compliance is followed and reduces the cost of non-compliance and risk of sanctions. Second, it improves the performance of IT without increasing the costs involved. Third, it helps in knowledge management by providing users with information to increase business innovation, improvement and productivity.