Email overload often seduces us into replying in haste and then trying to delete the said email from ours and the recipients inbox.
Whether an email is deleted – inadvertently or intentionally – the good (or perhaps bad) news is that it can almost always be recovered.
For example, you’ll know that if you delete an email in Outlook, it will go into the Deleted Items folder, but even deleting an item from this folder does not actually delete it. You can still recover it (albeit within a more limited time-frame) using the Outlook Recover Deleted Items option.
The deletion of items held in this service (termed the Dumpster) is managed as a central function. For example, a permanent deletion may be configured to take effect after say 28 days or longer, giving you a window for retrieval.
But, the fact is, even if an email is permanently deleted from Exchange it will still exist in many different places, including:
Just like your Facebook profile, once an email has been sent, it is forever somewhere in the ether.
Some IT teams might choose not to expend effort in retrieving an email confirming your extra day’s holiday for you. However you can bet that a LOT of effort will be spent on recovering email that shouldn’t have been sent in the first place.
For more information about how we can help you see our website at www.essential.co.uk
Keith Quinn, CEO, Essential Computing.
Emails as evidence has been highlighted in the phone hacking scandal. I have long since held the belief that one of the reasons News of the World (NoW) in the early days were so keen to settle with Sienna Miller so quickly was because she demanded to see all emails relating to herself. However, it was never going to be long before all hell broke loose as others demanded to see such emails. Now these demands have been made and not surprisingly HCL Technologies who manage their email systems say they were asked to destroy more than 200,000 emails over the past year!
I utterly condemn the phone hacking and indeed may now stop reading any Murdoch publication. Nonetheless, there are lessons to be learnt about the use of email. Emails as evidence highlights three issues.
First, can the emails be destroyed? Under current UK law, in theory yes. But you can bet that someone somewhere will have kept a copy either printed off or saved to a file.
Second, it underscores the need to be so vigilant about what we put in an email. A conversation is far less likely to be kept. Careless emails sent in haste as busy business people struggle with email overload have been been very costly for many organisations. For example saying ‘yes’ when a client says an error has been made leaves little scope to negotiate. A comment which is seen defamatory may also be costly.
Third, it highlights the viral open nature of email. An email is as open as a postcard. You can bet your life someone somewhere has seen these NoW emails who should not have seen them. One way or another I’d wager a bet that, try as they may to have destroyed the email evidence, it will turn up at some point like the proverbial bad penny.
Last, but by no means least, there is talk of changing the UK laws relating to email retention and archives to be more like the US law. Emails will have to be kept and made available on demand. That too brings its own set of problems.
This all underscores the need to think before hitting send. If in doubt, talk first, then email later if needs be. Before you all comment, sanctioning phone hacking by conversation is no less an offence than sanctioning it by email.
Have you ever been subject to a legal case where email evidence is included?