Over the last few years, the use of e-mail has grown to become a crucial component of enterprises and SMBs alike. A common problem faced by organizations of all sizes is the need to properly protect historical e-mails from corruption or inadvertent data loss.
When one stops to consider the sheer volume of e-mail messages being transferred every day, it becomes quickly apparent that properly protecting the electronic mailboxes in an entire company is no easy task. Picture this -- just 500 users with an average mailbox size of 2 gigabyte will require a minimum storage capacity of a terabyte.
Today, we look at some practical strategies that an SMB can take to lower the amount of storage required to backup e-mail correspondence.
Offload your e-mail to a cloud-based service
I first discussed this idea in an earlier blog I wrote about MXsense, a cloud-based service that archives all the e-mails received and sent by a Microsoft Exchange system in real time. With all e-mails safely deposited in the company's searchable system, users can conceivably delete the local copy of their correspondence.
Of course, MXsense is unique in that it allows users to generate the original e-mails in either Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express formats from the Web interface, complete with the original file header information and timestamps. This makes for a seamless experience, be it for the purpose of forwarding or printing.
As an alternative, some companies have shifted to using Google's Gmail service to host their corporate domain. By shifting to the clouds, corporations can reduce resources that need to be dedicated to storing e-mails, though some might argue that such a move does not equate to performing a proper backup.
Archiving your e-mails
One simple trick to quickly reduce the amount of e-mails that need to be backed up would be to move old e-mails to an archive. E-mail clients like Microsoft Outlook have a utility to move older e-mails into a separate PST file that can be backed up to a remote site. Users will have to determine the age of historical e-mails to archive depending on personal preference and volume of e-mails.
What is neat about this solution is that it makes use of existing functionality in Outlook and is hence easy for end users to grasp. In addition, a copy of the archived PST file can also be kept in local storage for reference as necessary.
Delete large e-mail attachments
One method that I've found extremely useful in managing the size of my personal inbox is to manually delete large e-mail attachments. This is particularly useful since some projects could result in multi-megabyte files being e-mailed repeatedly between team members with only slight modifications being made each time.
To delete these large files from Outlook, right-click on the attachment in question and select "Remove." When prompted by Outlook, simply select "Yes" to save the changes. The attachment is gone and your mailbox will be correspondingly smaller. A quick way to identify large attachments would be to make use of the "Large Mail" Search Folder in Microsoft Outlook 2007 and periodically strip away large attachments.
Do you have any tips that will benefit SMBs when it comes to handling e-mails? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.