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Why You Should Rid Yourself of PST Files

Posted by Trevagh Stankard on Tue, Oct 5th, 2021

When Microsoft Outlook stores files on a local device, it uses the PST file format. This is a sufficient solution for individuals who manage their own backups, but it’s a disorganized and insecure way to store email messages in a large enterprise. With hundreds (potentially thousands) of users in an enterprise, managing these PST files becomes an incredible burden to administrators.

The Problem with PST Files

Users can store PST files anywhere on the network, but administrators are responsible for creating backups, making it difficult to ensure that every user’s inbox is included in the backup procedures. This is the most obvious to organizations when they set up an email server. Emails can be stored on the server along with storing messages in PST files, but this adds up to potential terabytes of wasted storage space.  This data also wastes storage space when it’s backed up.

There are several other reasons PST files cause problems and unnecessary overhead for administrators. The overhead and extra storage lead to waste costs and budgetary concerns. A few other issues include:

Disorganized Backups

Because PST files can be stored across multiple locations on the network, administrators must track every location. PST files can also be stored on the local device, so administrators must be able to access these devices to ensure that all files are included in backups. Administrators can control where PST files are stored, but users still have options to store their own copy of email messages.

PST Files are Error-prone and Incapable of Handling Large Capacities

In older Outlook environments, users had a 2GB limitation. If a PST file exceeded this limitation, users would be forced to create a new file and archive the old one. Expanding a PST beyond the 2GB limit caused Outlook to freeze. To overcome this limitation, administrators stored emails on the server, but this required additional storage capacity on the server to store all messages.

Difficulties with Compliance

For companies required to store email for auditing purposes, the PST file and its limitations open the possibility for compliance issues. Users can store a PST file anywhere on their device, on the network, or at home. If the PST file is not backed up, the organization cannot audit messages easily. Administrators must leave PST files in the hands of users to ensure that the files are stored in the right location. If users delete their PST files without backups, the messages are lost. Any loss of messages leaves the organization open to non-compliance violations. After a breach, the organization will be fined for non-compliance issues if email messages cannot be audited.

More Overhead for Administrators

Leaving email storage in the hands of users creates more overhead for administrators who must search for PST files across the network to create backups and archives of messages. The overhead for administrators causes unnecessary stress as they try to organize PST files and create network rules that force users to store them in accessible storage areas.

What You Can Do to Stay Compliant and Secure

For compliance and the cybersecurity of your email messages, having a system that archives messages from the email server to the specified cloud location will ensure the safety of messages. Using an archive system, the organization will have a compliant backup searchable by any researcher or auditor who needs to review older messages.

Archive platforms in the cloud offers virtually endless storage capacity, and administrators can leverage the platform’s cybersecurity tools to protect them from outside attackers. The cloud offers an affordable way for organizations to store large files, including PST files from various user devices and network locations. Since files can be stored in one cloud location, the organization has a single point where any auditors can review files, making the process of an investigation into improprieties or data loss much more streamlined.

It’s important to understand that backups and archives are two separate entities. They are both necessary for compliance, but backups are essential in disaster recovery, and archives are necessary for incident response, audits, and investigations. They are a form of backups, but they are indexed in a way that makes them easier to search so that auditors can review email messages using specific filters and criteria (e.g., by date, sender, recipient, or keyword within messages).

To stay compliant, it’s important that organizations find the right email archiving solution that takes cybersecurity and compliance seriously. These platforms will give administrators the tools necessary to move messages to the cloud while making them secure from attackers.

ArcTitan is a cloud-based email archiving solution that is compliant with all legal obligations and is Office 365 integrated. Learn more about ArcTitan today View Demo.

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