What is Journaling?

Email archiving is a key component of modern IT strategies in email management, email security, and business continuity. If you want to meet your goals in these areas, it’s important you address the question of how you want to archive your emails as early as possible. One approach you should be familiar with in this context is journal archiving or journaling, where emails are archived the moment they are received or sent. This article explains why this is so important, but let’s start at the beginning.

Strictly speaking, journaling and journal archiving are two distinct processes. But since they belong together from the perspective of archiving technology, they are often used synonymously. In the MailStore context, journaling initially copies the emails to a multidrop mailbox – the “journal”. A journal archiving process then swaps the emails out of the journal and places them in the archive.

So, How Does Your Business Archive Emails?

Professional email archiving software usually allows businesses to choose between different strategic approaches to email archiving:

  • The first method is where all emails are copied to the archiving system the moment they are received or sent. This method is also known as journaling.
  • The second is where user mailboxes are archived (known as mailbox archiving). In this case, all the emails in users’ mailboxes or shared mailboxes (e.g. sales@samplecompany.com) are archived at regular intervals. This can take place either by accessing the email server directly on a centralized basis, or by archiving the local email clients.
  • Businesses may also elect to run both methods in parallel, and this certainly has benefits in some scenarios.

Archiving User Mailboxes (Mailbox Archiving)

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Which strategic approach is best suited to your company depends on your email archiving objectives. The advantage of archiving user mailboxes is that you can transfer your current folder structure and the entire email history of your users to the archive. So, rather than having to adapt to a new environment, staff find that their customary folder structures have been retained in the archive.

Archiving user mailboxes is of particular interest to companies wishing to reduce the workload on their email servers, while retaining the existing folder structures of the mailboxes. If you want to meet specific compliance requirements too, this approach may not be sufficient on its own. The risk inherent in archiving entire user mailboxes is that crucial emails can go astray if users delete or manipulate emails prior to archiving.

Journaling (Journal Archiving)

Many businesses and organizations around the world are facing a growing number of compliance requirements (e.g. HIPAA and FERPA in the United States). If your business wants to comply with these requirements, you should most probably use journaling. With the journaling method, you can make sure that all your business emails are archived (i.e. archiving all emails as soon as they are received or sent). Even if users delete emails from their mailboxes, this data traffic will already have been archived.

Important: when applied in the context of a professional email archiving solution such as MailStore Server, journaling also allows archived emails to be assigned to the corresponding user archives, meaning that the privileges of individual co-workers are retained. So, a co-worker won’t be able to read the CEO’s emails unless explicitly authorized to do so.

Where Journaling Reaches its Limits

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A potential downside of journaling is that it doesn’t enable the load on the email server to be reduced. One solution would be to choose an archiving solution that provides the option of setting deletion rules. Subject to the criteria set by the IT admin, these rules automatically delete emails from a mailbox once they have been archived. To ensure that emails are kept in the archive only for a certain length of time, e.g. in order to meet legal requirements, some email archiving solutions allow you to define what are known as retention policies. At the end of the period in question, emails are deleted from the archive manually or automatically.

Important: private emails

Please note that not all emails may be archived. Data privacy guidelines should be taken into account. For example, in some countries, use of business email services for private purposes can be problematic. In this case, a proposed solution would be to prohibit private email use (e.g. via an employment agreement) or ensure that external email services are used exclusively for private email correspondence. That is why you should always keep an eye on data privacy guidelines.

Another potential drawback with journaling is that it doesn’t normally allow users’ customary folder structures to be reproduced. Some users may miss this when they come to search their personal archive for specific mails and attachments.

In order to help users conduct extensive searches in archives that no longer have a folder structure, some email archiving solutions provide comprehensive search functions. And, as an effective search function is usually quicker than having to search through a folder structure manually, users stand to enhance their productivity too. A high-performance search function is also an essential cornerstone for auditors in an eDiscovery scenario, where entire corporate archiving systems have to be searched.

Does It Make Sense to Combine Journal Archiving and Mailbox Archiving?

Since both methods have their pros and cons, some companies decide to combine mailbox archiving with journaling. A practical example is where a business uses journaling to ensure that emails remain legally compliant and audit-proof, but then adds a mailbox archiving facility so that users’ personal archives have the same folder structure as on the email client. Depending on the archiving solution and provided that the archiving software is capable of internally de-duplicating emails, this combination requires only marginally more storage space.
Another example of how the two methods can be combined is the one-time mailbox archiving of local PST files, local email clients and individual emails stored on a decentralized basis while an email archiving solution is being introduced. Thereafter, future emails are backed up using the journaling method. This procedure ensures that the information in the “old” emails remains usable too.

Summary

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Journaling is a strategic email archiving approach that often arises from the need to comply with legal requirements and implement measures in the field of business continuity (BC). By archiving all inbound and outbound emails immediately, your business ensures that electronic correspondence is stored in a form that is complete, faithful to the original, tamper-proof, and permanently available, while ruling out from the outset the potential for users to modify or delete emails prior to archiving.

Whether journaling alone is sufficient to meet your needs depends on your email archiving objectives. If you want to have your existing folder structures reproduced in your archive and reduce the storage requirements of your email server while achieving legal certainty, you may want to combine mailbox archiving with the journaling method. Depending on the email archiving solution you choose, using both methods in parallel does not necessarily give rise to additional costs. Indeed, professional archiving software should be able to combine both these strategic approaches without any problems.

If you’d like to know more about our MailStore Server solution, then take a look at our products page or watch our product video.

For specific information on how to set up journaling with MailStore Server, please see the details provided in our help article.

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