Email Archiving Solutions Comparison

We have compiled and email archiving solutions comparison guide to help you decide on the best email archiving solution for your business. Many IT companies offer email archiving solutions comparison of which is made difficult due to the different types of archive. To make the process easier for you we have listed the different email archiving options below.

Email Archiving Solutions Comparison

There are four choice available for email archiving. You can choose a hardware-based solution, a software solution, a cloud-based solution, or a hybrid solution.

Email Archiving Appliance

The hardware-based choice is an email archiving appliance, which is a physical appliance that you use on-premises for storing your archive. Email archiving appliances are sold as ready-to-go solutions and include the appliance itself and the software is already installed. Emails are stored on hard drives or arrays inside the appliance.

Some email archiving solution providers offer a virtual appliance solution. A virtual machine is supplied along with the archiving software, which you house within your virtual environment such as VMware or HyperV. You may need to purchase additional hardware to house your virtual appliance and you will need to purchase a VMware or HyperV license.

The advantages of this option are that you have total control over your email archive as it will be housed on site. You can isolate your appliance and house it behind your firewall, as you would with internal servers. The main disadvantages are cost and a lack of flexibility. The appliance must be purchased so there is an upfront cost and the appliances are not cheap. The storage space will also be limited. If your company grows, you may need to upgrade your appliance. You must carefully consider how much storage space you will need to avoid a costly upgrade down the line.

Email Archiving Software

Email archiving software can be purchased and downloaded. You will need to purchase hardware to use with your software and you will also need to purchase database software such as Microsoft SQL for creating your archive and webserver software. With this option you pay a cost per user for the licenses to use the software. This option requires additional time to set up and it is the most complicated email archiving option.

Cloud-Based Email Archiving Solution

A cloud-based archive is a flexible email archiving solution thanks to the scalability of the cloud. This option is provided as a SaaS solution, where the service provider provides the software and handles the storage. This is the easiest option for archiving email as everything is managed for you, including security. The service provider will also automatically back up your archive. You can access your archive from any location through a web-based interface or via your standard email client.

Depending on the provider, your archive will be stored in the public cloud – such as AWS – or in the service provider’s cloud environment. This solution is quick and easy to set up and the upfront costs are low. You just pay for your licenses for the number of users.

Hybrid Email Archiving Solutions

A hybrid solution uses a combination of hardware, software, and the cloud. For instance, you could use an appliance on-premises for creating and storing your archive and backup your archive to the cloud. In the event of disaster, such as a ransomware attack or hardware failure, you will be able to recover your archive from the cloud.

Email Archiving Solutions Comparison of Costs

You should carefully consider the costs of each option and perform an email archiving solutions comparison before making a decision. The costs of each solution can vary considerably. When evaluating solutions, make sure you factor in the costs of additional components you will need, such as database software, web server software, storage devices, and ongoing maintenance costs.

With software and an appliance (physical and virtual) there will be a one-time upfront cost, and ongoing maintenance costs. While this can be a cost-effective choice, the high initial capital expense will make this option unattractive for many businesses.

Cloud-based email archiving solutions do not cost much to implement, although the costs can mount up over time. With this option there is only the operational expense, which will be a relatively low monthly payment. This option is a set and forget solution that requires no maintenance.

As a general rule of thumb, appliances are best suited to large enterprises and cloud-based email archiving solutions are best suited to small- and medium-sized business and managed service providers that want to offer an email archiving service to their clients.


Why should businesses create an email archive?

The main benefits of an email archive are to improve the performance of your mail server, reduce storage space, ensure that no business emails are lost, and to make sure that email data can be quickly found and restored when needed – for a compliance audit, to resolve customer complaints, or for eDiscovery.

How long do I need to archive emails?

The email retention period varies considerably depending on the type of data, industry sector, and geographical location. The retention period is usually 1-7 years, although may be considerably longer for certain data types. PCI DSS sets a minimum term of 1 year and HIPAA requires documentation to be kept for 7 years. You should seek legal advice, as fines may be imposed for violations.

Is an email archive similar to an email backup?

Email archives and email backups can perform similar functions, but there are important differences. Backups are for short term storage for disaster recovery, whereas an email archive is created for long term email storage. Archives are searchable so if an email needs to be recovered, a search can be performed, and the email can be recovered in seconds. That is not possible with an email backup.

Does email archiving ensure compliance with email retention laws?

You need to choose your email archiving solution carefully, as not all will ensure compliance. You should ensure that you choose a solution that creates a tamperproof (or tamper-evident) copy of the original email. You should ensure that emails are protected with end-to-end encryption when sent to and retrieved from the archive, and that the archive is backed up to protect against data loss.

Are there any hidden costs with email archiving?

You should carefully check the terms and conditions and thoroughly evaluate an email archiving solution before committing to ensure you avoid headaches and costs in the future and carefully check costs. Questions that need to be answered include: Does the provider charge you for all mailboxes or only active mailboxes? Are there limits on storage space? Can you easily change provider?