Email archiving for US educational institutions

Email is an enormous repository of information. The millions of emails sent and received daily, often of a confidential nature, contain a wealth of knowledge that needs to be safeguarded.

The information in emails is of such value that in December 2006, the Supreme Court in the United States made changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). These rules dictate what happens in federal civil cases and how discovery of information and materials relevant to civil cases is conducted. These amendments are significant; for the first time, all electronically stored information, including email, is subject to legal discovery.

That means federal agencies, courts and attorneys may request electronically stored information that is relevant to court litigation or forensic investigations. Failure on the part of any organization - whether a business, city government or educational institution - to provide the information, in whole or in part, could result in court sanctions, fines and loss of grants and/or federal funding.

Since the changes to the FRCP in 2006, educational institutions have been required to think about how and where they store digital information. As with the majority of organizations, educational institutions are increasingly dependent on communication technologies for their day-to-day activities. Email is used to communicate with students, colleagues, committee members, and local, state and federal agencies and authorities.

Educational institutions, like businesses and government agencies, must be prepared to quickly collect and present any duly authorized request for information. A common misconception about email archiving is that the institution's backup policy is sufficient. While backups are indeed extremely important, especially if you are an IT administrator who suddenly has to rebuild a server after hardware failure, they are sadly deficient when it comes to email retrieval. Consider an email conversation that goes back months, if not years. Imagine your IT administrator wading through massive email data to find relevant bits of information.

An email archiving solution can retrieve entire threads with a few clicks.

The benefits of an email archiving solution in educational institutions

1. Protection against lawsuits

Finding a lost or deleted email could be all it takes to resolve a parent or student complaint. With an email archiving solution, educators can instantly search for old or deleted email using a web browser or directly from the Outlook® client.

2. Assistance with legal compliance and e-discovery

Your complete email history can be stored securely and centrally for quick, easy access and retrieval, if required for legal reasons. E-discovery retention rules and audit trail features prevent emails from being deleted or altered.

3. Save on email storage costs

Like any organization, working within a budget is a top priority for schools, school districts, and education committees and agencies. Yet, as educators send and receive more emails with larger attachments, they find themselves needing additional storage space on the server. With an email archiving solution, a single copy of an email and its attachments are stored in a separate central store, enabling IT administrators to reduce the amount of required storage space.

4. Protect staff and students against abuse or bullying

It may become necessary to monitor the communication generated by educators, students or administrators for legal or staff management reasons. With an email archiving solution, you can monitor and report on emails containing high-risk content such as abusive or inappropriate messages.

An informal survey by eSchool News found that 80% of school administrators were unclear about their district's policies for the retention of email. Although many were aware of the amendments to Federal law, 90% said they had yet to initiate activities to comply with the regulations.

It's time to seriously consider an email archiving solution. Download GFI MailArchiver®. See for yourself the value it provides.

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