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Be on the lookout for email hoarders

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  • 1. Be On the Lookout for Email HoardersBy Denny Russell, Senior Product Specialist, Sherpa SoftwareDisk space presents a major challenge for both the IT professionals managing acompany’s messaging environment and its avid email users. There is never enough diskspace to keep everything. Since many email users would like do just that, it creates twocompeting interests. Online consumer email applications such as Gmail, Yahoo! andHotmail have conditioned people to think they can keep everything because there ismore than enough space in the consumer cloud.However, in a business environment, keeping every email employees send and receiveis impractical. In addition to the cost of storage, there are also potential legal and humanresource policy violations, among other considerations.How can IT professionals reconcile the needs of email users who want to keepeverything with corporate policy demands?Hoarders are people with a compulsion to accumulate & store large quantities ofnonessential things. It’s also the subject of a popular TV show on A&E. An email hoarderis a person who keeps every email he or she has ever sent or received, including thatemail from three years ago with the pictures from their niece’s friend’s cousin’s dog’sthird birthday party. Just like the television show, the challenges these hoarders presentare complex, but possible to overcome.Specifically, there are four key challenges administrators need to tackle. Each has itsown set of headaches for the email user and IT administrator. These include slow inboxresponse times; keeping low value data on the company’s servers; lost productivity dueto unmanaged, unorganized data; and electronic discovery and litigation nightmares.When addressing these challenges, there are some specific advantages fororganizations using the Lotus Notes/Domino email platform because each user has theirown database in which to store messages, also known as an .NSF file. A benefit of .NSFfiles is they are portable and can easily be moved from one server to another. Otherbenefits include a true ‘Send and File’ option and a built-in search option that locatesmessages no matter where they’re stored in the email system. Even with these greatfeatures, users still manage to hoard email, creating problems for administrators alongthe way.If it were simple to solve these problems, companies wouldn’t need email managementpolicies or systems. However, this is not the case, and each challenge is unique. So let’sdeal with each accordingly.Slow Inbox Response TimesSlow email inbox response times can be dealt with easily in Lotus Notes if users aretrained not to keep everything in their inbox. Instead, they should use personal folders tofile email. Using organized folders makes it easier for people to find their email later. IBMrecommends keeping fewer than 1,000 documents in an inbox for optimal performance.
  • 2. If users won’t organize email themselves, an automated Domino policy can be set toremove old items from an inbox. Any removed messages will still be available in the ‘AllDocuments’ view. Applying this policy will make inboxes more manageable, andresponse times will greatly improve.Keeping Low Value Data on Company ServersInitially, this may not seem like a huge challenge because disk space is inexpensive.However, if information is not business-related, is it worth keeping? Low value data canadd up over time, when multiplied over hundreds or thousands of users, suddenly justadding more ‘cheap’ disk space can truly cost a lot of money.There are many options available for dealing with email hoarders from a disk spaceperspective. First, a retention policy can be set up to manage user data. Policies can beconfigured to be as flexible or as strict as organizational constraints allow. LotusNotes/Domino offers options for archiving messages via the ‘Compact’ task.User data that should be archived can be defined based on several criteria. Users willstill have access to email in their archive, but valuable disk space can be saved. Onenote of caution about archiving: stay away from local archives. Using local archivesmakes electronic discovery in a lawsuit difficult and more costly.Attachment management is also an option. Attachments may take up to 50 percent ormore of the space in a mail file. Many times, users have several copies of the sameattachment. When someone uses the ‘reply with history’ option, the entire email getssent again, including the attachments. Lotus Notes/Domino offers Domino Attachmentand Object Service (DAOS), which allows for single-instancing attachments to helpalleviate this problem. This means that if an attachment is duplicated in a given email ormail file, only one copy of that attachment is kept in the DAOS Store. As companiesimplement this feature, large amounts of disk space can be saved by simply removingduplicate attachments.The other option is to make users responsible for their data by implementing a systemrequiring them to keep only data that is relevant to their job. This policy requires users tofolder items that deal with their jobs and archive only those items. To avoid having usersjust place everything inside this folder, implement a system that requires them to tag orclassify each document. While this may be time consuming, it will make users touchevery document and determine its value. It will also help them organize their data,allowing the organization to keep only relevant information.Organizing EmailOrganizing email allows employees to be more productive, and it saves time. If there aretens of thousands of documents in a person’s inbox, not only is the load time slow, but itwill be difficult to find documents. Organizing email into folders allows users to reducethe size of their inboxes and find important documents faster. Lotus Notes allows usersto ‘Move’ or ‘Add’ messages to a folder.These options are different – the ‘Move’ option removes the message from the inbox tothe personal folder, and ‘Add’ option keeps the message in its original location, but
  • 3. creates a pointer from the folder to the original message. If users organize messagesusing only the ‘Add’ feature, it will not help with inbox response time.A great feature in Lotus Notes called ‘Send and File’ allows a user to send a messageand file it in an organized folder that can be found easily later on. Regardless of whatfolder a message is stored in, the search feature in Lotus Notes searches messageslocated in personal folders, or people can use the ‘All Documents’ view and then sort bysender, subject, date or size to find misplaced email.Electronic Discovery and Litigation NightmaresWhen a legal or regulatory inquiry arises, it is unhelpful to have unmanaged,unorganized data. If the IT team doesn’t know where data is located – whether it’s onlocal workstations or on servers – it becomes difficult to product the correct informationin a timely manner. This can be one of the most costly realities companies face whenconfronting the issue of email hoarding in organizations today.For example, let’s say a company’s email policy is that email must be deleted afterseven years, but a person who has been working for the company for eight years hassquirreled away every email on his or her laptop.Then, the company is sued, and opposing counsel requests all email pertaining to agroup of users – and this group includes the hoarder. Since organizational policies werenot applied to the hoarder’s stash of email, those older emails must be produced, whichcould make the company vulnerable to a myriad of problems.Allowing users to keep everything – or have local replicas or local archives – can becostly to a company.The good news is that having a solid plan in place and managing data proactively can goa long way in saving administrators time, money and stress. When deciding what shouldbe kept and what should be deleted, there is a blog series that might be helpful to readcalled, “Managing Your Email: the Complete Series.”To summarize, when addressing immediate email hoarding issues, first, make sure thereis a solid organizational email policy in place. Doing so will provide guidance for keepingdata issues under control. Second, educate email users and teach them how to manageand organize their data. It is important that people understand organizational emailpolicies and what they are allowed and not allowed to do. Third, use the tools available.Lotus Notes/Domino offers many features to assist administrators. If you find these toolsdon’t provide what’s needed, don’t be afraid to get help from third-party products.For more information about tools to manage email hoarding in your organization, visitwww.sherpasoftware.com.