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How Long Should You Keep Emails?

How Long Should You Keep Emails?

As a business owner, you get more correspondence than you know what to do with. You will get emails from potential clients, current clients, and even from people who will want to sell you goods or services. Getting your inbox to 0 every day is a chore, but that isn’t the hardest part of dealing with your day-to-day email correspondences. The hardest part is actually figuring out when to delete your emails, when to back them up, and how to go about it.

The first thing you should do when deciding on the topic of keeping email is decide how important it is to your company’s function. Here’s a quick tip sheet…

  • Any email that is between you and a client, or you and a potential client, should be kept, then later archived. You never know what may happen in the long term, and having archived emails may prove to be good for both past references and for proof should litigation happen.
  • Emails that contain company information or client information should be kept in an archive for at least 1.5 years.
  • Promotional materials from other companies can be tossed out.
  • Memos involving calls for company meetings and other minor details like that can safely be tossed out after 1-2 months.
  • Any emails involving legal compliance should be kept for 2 to 6 years, depending on the laws within your state and country.
  • Emails involving major company secrets, strategies and information should be kept indefinitely, as you never will be able to tell what may happen in the future.
  • Employee onboarding emails, including messages involving paperwork, should be kept at least 2 years. Most will want to keep a hold of those messages for a bit longer, though.

How to archive emails is another issue you may need to address. Most emails on online clients, such as Gmail or GoDaddy, can be easily archived by either clicking an “Archive” button, or getting the help of an IT pro. The actual archiving of your emails usually isn’t the problem, though. The problem is where to store all the data, since data does add up quickly.

Depending on your company’s size, industry, and age, a number of different options may be open to you. For example, smaller companies can usually fit compressed, archived emails onto a number of storage disk drives without too much of an issue. Larger companies may want to consider putting their information on the cloud, or designate an entire server to the storage of their emails.

The fact of the matter is that every company will have different laws that they need to abide by, different expectations, and different situations in regards to emails. The best way to find the right solution for your email storage, as well as your email protocols is to call a tech team that actually understands what is necessary at each stage of your company and will help you transition every step of the way.