Managing an organization’s email server archive can seem like a night time hike over rocky ground. There are frequently conflicting requirements and policies ready to trip you up (storage constraints, e-discovery demands, legal compliance, user access, etc.) Even the terminology can be confusing. For example, what would you say is meant by the term archiving? How is that related to journaling? Do you need either one or are they really just two terms for the same thing?

In this post, we’ll consider these questions to help you navigate your organization over some rough terrain. First, some definitions.

Archiving is the process of moving a message from one data store to another. This is usually a user-centric function being done so a mail user has later access to a message not stored in their main mail file. Often, there is a 1:1 relationship between the primary mail file and the archive. Thus, each user has access their own archive.

Archiving is a kind of agreement between the e-mail administrator and the users being supported. On one hand, the administrator frees up space on expensive, primary server storage while, on the other hand, the user retains access to the moved messages.

Journaling is the process of copying a message from one data store to another. You may have heard the term ‘compliance archive’ in this context too, but this term clouds the distinction between ‘compliance’ and ‘regular’ archiving. Also, while archiving usually happens some time after the message has been sent and received, sometimes months later, journaling is most effective when it happens as early as possible in the message’s life.

Journaling is a company-centric management technique and is done to demonstrate compliance and facilitate e-discovery. Unlike archives, typical users generally have little to do with the journaled messages.


We can see from the above that archiving and journaling, though similar in some ways, are quite different in their intent and the needs they serve. Still, the question remains, why do you need to worry about archiving and journaling? Here are some reasons:


Server Performance

Moving messages off the mail server will greatly increase its performance. Server house-keeping tasks will perform better and backup windows will shrink.

Efficient Search and Retrieval for Users

Depending on the archive policy you implement, your users may find that they rarely need to access the archive, but when they do, they will usually be looking for a particular email. Therefore, the archive needs to be searchable.

End-user Convenience

For good or bad, email tends to be a repository for business content. Being able to retain this content and have it within easy reach is important for your end users. Also, mail applications will open faster, providing a better user experience.

Email Administrator Convenience

Budget freezes mean that email administrators need to get more out of less. Moving messages off to less expensive secondary storage allows them to do that.


Efficient E-discovery Response

During litigation, the email administrator may be asked to produce all relevant messages in the email server storage for a certain period.

Compliance and Security

Relying on end users to retain email messages for compliance is often not satisfactory. A journaling system will securely retain a copy of messages even after all other copies have been deleted.

Administrator Convenience

The right journaling solution, once configured and tuned, should be low-touch and efficient, using secondary storage and reducing back up windows.


It is a challenge to balance all these needs successfully. However, with planning and the right tools, it is possible to smooth the rocky road of email server archive and journal management.

To see the benefits of archiving and journaling in action, be sure to check out Sherpa Software’s email archiving systems, compliance software and storage discovery tools by registering for a demonstration today.