The 57 page Preserving Email technology watch report gives practical advice on how to ensure that email remains accessible. "Users normally shoulder the ultimate responsibility for managing and preserving their own email. This exposes important records to needless risks and is counterproductive in many cases." The three basic steps which institutions should undertake:
- Define policies, including institutional commitment, specific actions to take, and end-user expectations, responsibilities and rights regarding the email archives
- choosing appropriate tools to work with email in an environment where users have adequate storage space and without auto-deletion settings
- implementing them in the light of local environmental factors and available resources.
- The ‘sweeping up crumbs’ or whole-account approach refers to harvesting email found on a user’s computer or account.
- The ‘nurturing and harvesting’ approach, helping email users ensure that critical records are retained in system-neutral formats, then using email migration software to capture and preserve records either as they are created or at the end of a user’s lifetime. An example is providing users a designated ‘archives’ box.
- The ‘capturing carbon’ or whole system approach implements email archiving software to capture an entire email ecosystem or a portion of that ecosystem to an external email storage environment.
- The ‘tagging and bagging’ or message-by-message approach, existing electronic record management systems, but which may not be effective.
- The Personal Archives Service approach, which would offer services such as Carbonite or CrashPlan.
Unless we make the preservation of trusted email records a systematic part of our everyday operations, many important records will be lost. They cite some examples, such as the 22 million emails from the Executive Office of the President of the United States surrounding the Gulf War that we lost when servers were replaced.