What are the Best Tips for Email Archiving?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Email or e-mail, short for electronic mail, is the name for text messages sent over the Internet and picked up by the user online or downloaded through a mail client using push or pull technology, depending on the device and program receiving the messages. Archiving refers to a storage plan whereby items are arranged in a logical and accessible manner. It can also refer to making a backup copy of material. Email archiving refers to a methodical filing system for email that removes it from the server and backs it up safely.

An external hard drive can be used to store emails.
An external hard drive can be used to store emails.

The best thing to do first with regard to email archiving is to consider your options. Decide whether it is sufficient to have your emails archived in the cloud, or whether you need them archived on your machine or in hard copy. Perhaps certain material needs to printed out, while other material can remain in electronic form. If the emails are to be archived on your machine, decide whether you will make a backup on an external hard drive and also whether anything needs to be saved in a form other than the file format of your mail client, for example, saved in PDF file format.

One of the best tips for email archiving is to delete unwanted email immediately upon receipt or upon seeing it in your inbox.
One of the best tips for email archiving is to delete unwanted email immediately upon receipt or upon seeing it in your inbox.

Generally the second step in creating an email archiving system is to create a hierarchy of storage folders within your email client. In doing this, you might separate personal email from business email, and make sure folders you will need to access more frequently are easy to reach. Keep in mind that folders can be reorganized and renamed, so once a project that was top priority is completed, you may want to have a way to archive it within the folder system, such as putting it in a folder called “Completed Projects” with the year. Consider whether creating filters to sort incoming mail directly into folders will serve you well: some people swear by this feature; others never use it.

One of the best tips for email archiving is to delete unwanted email immediately upon receipt or upon seeing it in your inbox. This can save you time because you will never have to review it again, and help prevent unnecessary material from reaching the archive, where only material of value should be stored. Alternatively, if it suits you better, you can do mass deletion prior to archiving. You may be able to set your mail client for when mail should be deleted from the server, but periodically, it’s a good idea to visit your ISP website, see what’s actually on the server, and clear out, as needed. If you enough empty server space, you can choose to leave important emails there as an additional archive.

In business situations, complying with regulations, security, and efficiency are key elements of making email archiving decision. Enterprise email archiving can be managed by software applications made for that purpose and with features made to address business-specific issues. These include the ability to manage the virtual paper trail and delete messages that are not needed any longer.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


This article mentions archiving your email files on an external hard drive, and this method sounds like the best way to go for better security. Your email account could be hacked or you might download a virus and have all of your files ruined. When the files are stored on another hard drive, they are less likely to be compromised.


For me, the easiest way to keep my emails in some type of order is to create folders for each person who sends me emails. As soon as I get the email and read it, I will put the message in a folder that I created for the person who sent it to me. I have a folder for all of the people who send me messages regularly.

I also have a couple other folders. One of the folders is for personal emails from people who don't email me often enough to have their own folder. The second folder is for business emails. With this system, I may not know exactly where every message is, but I can find them in a short time.


One of my biggest problems organizing my email is that I seldom delete anything. I always start to delete old messages, but then I think, what if something happens and I need this message for some reason. So, as you can imagine, I have emails I received years ago stored in my Inbox.

What makes this even worse is that all of those emails I am saving just in case something comes up and I need them are virtually impossible for me to find. However, I have decided I am going to get organized, so I can find what I need when I need it, and reading this article is my first step towards that goal. I am determined to come up with at least a basic email archiving system.

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