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The complexities of an Archive Migration - Email Journals


 Our first blog on the complexities of an archive migration covered chain-of-custody.

Email journals present another challenge.

Many organisations maintain a journal archive to meet compliance and business needs.  The journal archive is often a complete record of all emails sent and received within an organisation, although many solutions extend the reach beyond email with the ability to retain many other forms of business communications including Teams, Slack, Yammer etc.

A range of solutions is used to achieve this including on-premise Exchange server, specialist email archive solutions (such as Enterprise Vault) and third-party cloud services. 

Clients that are reviewing or planning on revising their email strategy need to consider a number of key aspects when journal data is involved.

Whether considering a green-field platform for email retention or a change to an existing solution, care and consideration need to be given.

Do you still need journaling?

For certain regulated industries, all email correspondence must be kept for designated time periods.  Email journaling for these industries is a mandatory requirement.  For others, if used well, a complete email repository can be of significant business benefit. 

Email journals are important to legal teams because they offer them the option of conducting early data assessments in the event of claims.  They can make an informed decision about whether to fight or settle a matter when they have reliable data early in the process. The cost of journaling and early data assessment is usually far less than deciding to fight and then lose a case based on surprise email evidence.  Email journals can also be important to Compliance teams in the event of Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs).

The difference between journaling and a data archiving strategy

Journaling records all communications, including email communications for use in an email retention or archiving strategy and keeps a record of any interaction that you want to remember - even something that is not located on your computer, such as a phone conversation or a paper letter that you mailed or received.

Journal archives contain very sensitive information as they collect messages that are sent to and from recipients in your organisation, including those on Blind Carbon Copy (BCC).  These messages may be part of legal proceedings or may be subject to regulatory requirements. Various laws require that messages remain tamper-free before they are submitted to an investigatory authority. Data security is imperative and it is important to create policies that govern who can access the journaling mailboxes, limiting access to only those individuals who have a direct need to access them.

To meet the increasing number of regulatory and compliance requirements, many companies must maintain records of communications that occur when employees perform daily business tasks.

Journaling email communications can be used as a tool in your data retention or archival strategy. Although journaling may not be required by a specific regulation, compliance may be achieved through journaling under certain regulations. For example, corporate officers in some financial sectors may be held liable for the claims made by their employees to their customers. To verify that the claims are accurate, a corporate officer may set up a system where managers review some part of employee-to-client communications regularly. The ability to journal all classes of data in an enterprise is a valuable function of the IT architecture.

The changing landscape of business communications

Business communications and collaboration are continually evolving, and forward-thinking organisations are frequently assessing changes in the market and how they impact their email, archive and data retention policies.

Microsoft, with the cloud based, M365 solution, offers clients a more flexible, managed email environment and in many circumstances gives end users practically unlimited storage.  Clients that have implemented an email archive solution solely to control data volumes in traditional Exchange on-premise mailboxes may no longer have a need for the archive if transitioning to M365.  Thought must, however, be given to the migration of legacy mailbox archives in a secure and efficient manner.

Although M365 offers greater flexibility in terms of end user features and management, it has fundamentally changed the way in which emails are retained for compliance purposes. While it does offer a certain level of compliance features, many organisations choose to retain journaled emails in an alternative solution that may offer higher levels of eDiscovery and compliance capabilities.  Several cloud-based vendors operate in this space, offering enhanced features and optimised performance.

Legacy Archived Data

If you are considering changes within your current email environment and have an existing archive solution, start to plan early to ensure you have a clear strategy for your legacy data.

Being selective at the outset will pay dividends. Consider policies to determine what should be migrated based on age.  For example, only migrate data that is younger than X years old.

Your legal department will want to see a complete audit proving every item has been successfully migrated (or not) & that chain-of-custody was maintained with nothing overlooked. 


  • Detailed chain-of-custody reports
  • At-a-glance migration status updates
  • Auto-retries of any failed items

Some options to consider:

  • Migrate journals to Office 365, then use Office 365 retention policies and litigation hold to preserve email records going forwards.
  • Run an email journal hosted in the cloud and move your historic journals to the same service.

Each route has its own pros and cons depending on your business and compliance needs.

Common questions

  • Can we reconstruct our journal archives into the right format in a new archive?
  • How can we ensure all the relevant metadata is preserved and discoverable post-migration?
  • Should we consider an alternative storage and eDiscovery platform for our journals?
  • What is the best way to extract journals from our legacy environment(s)?

Get expert advice with proven solutions

Regardless of the archive you have been storing your journals in, we can migrate them to your preferred cloud platform.

Our experienced team can help guide you as you move your compliance-sensitive records. We will talk you through the various options and caveats that are available to you and help you reduce the costs of migrating and maintaining an email journal. 

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Written by : trueswift

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