Protect your email with backup and archiving on World Data Backup Day

Email has revolutionized modern business communication, becoming an indispensable tool for many organizations to conduct their day-to-day operations. However, with the increasing reliance on email, effective email data management has become crucial to ensure the integrity and continuity of business operations.

Despite the growing importance of email data management, many businesses still struggle to fully grasp the differences between email backup and archiving. Although backup and archiving are two distinct methods of data management, they are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion and a lack of clarity about the specific functions and benefits of each method. As we approach the 12th anniversary of World Backup Day, it’s an opportune time to revisit the key differences between these two methods, including when each is appropriate to use. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of email archiving and backup for compliance purposes and disaster recovery, and provide insights into how businesses can best manage their email data to ensure its security and accessibility.

Email backup vs email archiving

Email backup vs. email archiving

 Email backup 

 Email archiving 

Email backup is the process of creating a copy or snapshot of email data at a specific predetermined point in time, usually for disaster recovery purposes.

In any industry or on any team where email data is crucial to business operations, having email backup is essential. This method ensures the email data's availability, accessibility, and integrity in case of a data loss event, such as server failure, hardware failure, natural disasters, accidental deletion, or corruption of data. Additionally, email backup is necessary to protect against cyber threats like malware or ransomware attacks that may compromise sensitive email data, such as financial data, personally identifiable information (PII), or patient data. Finally, email backup is critical in cases of employee misconduct or intentional deletion of data.

Backups can be performed on a regular basis, such as daily or weekly, to ensure that the latest email data is always available in case of a disaster. Backups can be stored on-premises or in the cloud, and businesses can choose to keep multiple copies of backups to ensure redundancy and data availability. While email backup is an essential part of email data management, it doesn’t provide the same level of accessibility and retention as email archiving.

Email archiving is a more comprehensive and sophisticated approach to email data management. Unlike email backup, email archiving occurs in real time on an item-by-item basis. This systematic approach involves capturing, indexing, storing, and retaining email data for a specific period, for various purposes, such as eDiscovery, litigation support, regulatory audits, or internal investigations.

Email archiving preserves a complete, unaltered record of all email communications, including metadata such as sender, recipient, date, and time, as well as attachments, photos, videos, documents, and other media attached to an email. By preserving email communications in a tamper-proof (WORM compliant) format, email archiving offers instant, searchable, and organized access to stored information.

Businesses can easily retrieve specific emails or entire email threads, reducing the risk of data loss or litigation. Email archiving solutions can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud and typically include advanced search capabilities, tamper-proof storage, and retention policies. Overall, email archiving is more focused on long-term data retention, compliance, and accessibility than email backup.

Email data management using Zoho Mail   

Disaster recovery using Zoho Mail’s email backup    

Compliance through Zoho Mail’s email archiving  

Zoho Mail's email backup functionalities add security for businesses and allows organizations to handle any unforeseen data loss situations, keeping data and reputations safe.

Set up policies

Zoho Mail's email backup features allow organizations to define default backup policies and backup rules. The default retention period for backup data is 365 days, but organizations can specify a different period or choose to retain data forever based on their requirements and storage availability. Backup rules provide options to keep a backup of spam emails along with deleted emails. Administrators can select the users for whom backup should begin and enable retention for all user accounts by selecting "Select All Users."


The email recovery feature in Zoho Mail enables admins to recover and restore lost or accidentally deleted emails back to the user's mailbox, or simply export required data. An administrator can choose either “all user accounts” or “specific user accounts” to recover and restore the archived emails back to the mailbox, when required.

When backup retention is enabled, deleted emails can be retained in the backup portal based on the defined policy, and spam emails will be saved or skipped based on the backup rules set in the organization.

Audit logs

In Zoho Mail’s audit logs, every action taken by administrators will be documented by indicating the start and finish dates as well as the user accounts that should have access to Preview or Download audits. Moreover, the Recovery and Expunge histories both contain chronological logs of every admin-performed recovery action and expunge action, complete with information.

Zoho Mail’s comprehensive email archiving functionalities help businesses of all sizes manage their email retention, recovery, and compliance needs.

Set up policies

Zoho Mail's email archiving provides users with the ability to set up custom retention policies that can automatically delete or archive emails based on specific criteria such as date, sender, recipient, or keywords. These policies help organizations ensure that only relevant emails are retained while the rest are deleted or archived according to the organization's policies.

Administrators can define custom archive rules depending on conditions like time period, number of messages, or email size, in addition to the default archive policy, which is applied to all of the folders in the inbox. For example, administrators can define rules to automatically archive emails that are older than a specific number of months, or to not include the most recent emails. A limit size and age before archiving is initiated can also be specified. Moreover, administrators can select a "Do not archive" policy for a specific folder to prevent it from being archived.

eDiscovery: Search, hold, and export

As necessary for the investigation, the eDiscovery administrator initiates a new investigation on Zoho Mail’s eDiscovery dashboard and manages the entire investigation cycle by applying one or more holds based on various conditions. Even after the retention time specified by the retention policy has passed, the emails that have been put on hold as a result of investigations won't be destroyed.

Administrators can specify the requirements for a specific investigation, pause emails depending on the Search criteria, and Tag emails that are critical to the inquiry.

The administrator can export the results of a Hold whenever necessary in the format of their choosing, and once downloaded, the admin can choose to simply export or export and permanently delete the data.

Audit logs for investigation

Admins can set up access controls for archived emails, ensuring that only authorized users can access sensitive information. In addition, Zoho Mail provides detailed audit logs that allow admins to monitor email activity and track changes made to the archive inside the investigation.


With the increasing importance of data backup and management in today's digital world, it’s crucial to choose a secure and reliable email provider that offers effective email backup and discovery features. As we celebrate World Data Backup Day, now is the perfect time to level up your email data management game and consider switching to Zoho Mail for a more secure and efficient email experience.

Zoho Mail Premium and Zoho Workplace Professional have a robust built-in email archiving module that can be useful for businesses and individuals who want to back up and manage their email data securely. The eDiscovery dashboard is a built-in, integrated archiving module that streamlines legal discovery, regulatory compliance, and data access for organizations. Customizable subscriptions allow users to mix and match from different pricing plans, making Zoho Mail and Workplace flexible and scalable options for all types of users.  

Zoho also offers a stand-alone, cloud-based, archiving and email security solution, Zoho eProtect, for other mail services such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, as well as other cloud-based and on-premise email servers.


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