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HR & Legal Teams - What are PST files and is your company compliant?



Data management and its correct legal compliance is, and has always been, an ever changing, growing and troublesome task for business leaders, IT departments and CEOs. However, with its all-encompassing presence and the indisputable fact that it plays a part in every company around the globe, should HR and Legal Departments be driving the data management agenda further in their companies? 

This 3-part blog series will be looking into PST files as a specific data management aspect and examine how and why HR and Legal Departments may want to ensure their companies’ personal data management processes are up to date and in check. 

Firstly, it is important to really understand what PST files are and what their business use is and was. PST files, originally known as ‘personal storage tables’ or simply as PSTs, were launched in 1996 in an attempt to combat the slow networks of the time and the relatively small size of email mailbox storage assigned to each user.  PST files (files with the extension .pst) are the default format for storing local copies of email messages and other items within Microsoft Outlook.  

Businesses will often have significant volumes of unmonitored PSTs that have been created by users and stored throughout the IT infrastructure, on laptops, desktops, removable disks and even memory sticks. Furthermore, because of their offline nature, they are often difficult to keep track of, leading to a mass of key corporate email data being stored without any real insight from the company.  

For many companies, the ability to store emails in PST files locally meant that if they suffered a network failure then they would still be able to access their files offline. However, it has been found that many of the emails that had been moved offline and onto PSTs were rarely or never accessed again, begging the question as to why they were created or even allowed to be created. With a huge focus on data security and with new rules and regulations such as GDPR and DPA in place, it seems unthinkable that any company would permit its users to create, edit and store such files offline nowadays. Furthermore, it is also concerning that businesses continue to create and use PSTs around the globe today. 

Our next blog on the 5th of February explores the full dangers of PST files and what can be done to prevent these dangers and limit business exposure from a HR & Legal perspective.

For further information, visit our next blog which explores the full dangers of PST files and what can be done to prevent these dangers and limit business exposure from a HR & Legal perspective.


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Written by : trueswift

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