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Email Archive Migration: Why opt for a managed service?

May 29, 2019 by Russ McKeith

A bull searching for a VHS tape, which is a fitting analogy for email archives.

Do you remember the glory days of video cassette tapes, when CCTV recordings had to be stacked up and kept in boxes? An email archive is a bit like that, except compliance dictates you have to keep the tapes.

So, imagine you’re a business that has a storage room full of old VHS tapes, and you have to search through them whenever necessary, hoping the labels on each cassette and box are accurate.

This is pretty much what an email archive would look like if it were a physical thing; taking up space, being labor-intensive to search through, and racking up ever-increasing storage costs.

Similarly, these are the same challenges businesses face when maintaining a legacy email archive. It’s getting older, harder to manage, and is taking up storage space on antiquated equipment that must be periodically upgraded, or at least maintained.


Back to our physical analogy of the VHS tapes; imagine you want to convert each tape into a digitized video file that can be held in a cloud repository and searched whenever necessary.

So now the issue is you’re going to need some equipment; this can be hired or bought outright but is expensive and once the project is done, it’ll have to be mothballed or returned.

If rented, the issue becomes one of time; each tape will have to be converted in real-time and the file physically labelled individually, which could be a full-time job for someone spanning years. Not efficient, fun or cost-effective, and leaving open the potential for human error.

Ultimately, there are three options when changing formats in this way:

  1. Leave it as is, allow the tapes to degrade, continue to pay storage costs and hope the old, outdated technology doesn’t break
  2. Get hold of a conversion machine and do it yourself, knowing it could take years for someone to manually transfer and label each file, and still not work by the time it’s finished
  3. Give the whole project over to a professional company with industrial machines and dedicated staff to turn the whole library into a cloud-based repository of videos.

Many organizations will opt for the first option; this is just staving off disaster until a later date as something is going to fail at some point, and it’s all up to chance if the technology is supported, available and still works. Add the ongoing cost of renting storage for all the tapes, and suddenly this option has a lot of risk and can get very expensive over the lifespan of your archive.

The second option is something that happens when we “Need to urgently find that tape,” and there is a rush to cut cost or drive efficiency in the face of a need. This option takes time and, remember, you’re still paying for option one whilst the conversion is underway.

People sometimes make mistakes – it happens with repetitive tasks and those that require a high level of accuracy or have small margins for error. Usually, we turn this task over to a machine if one is available and remove the human element until the error-checking stage. Imagine labelling hundreds of thousands of files from a tape label, day in, day out.

Fast-forward to a typical email archive migration

The final option may be daunting, as it seems to relinquish control to another organization while incurring an up-front financial hit. However, as the ownership of the project will still reside with you, there is some comfort to be taken that outsourcing this type of project to a professional organization should result in regular updates from delivery teams.

When you look at the other options it becomes more cost-effective to have all the tapes industrially converted by experts dedicated to error-checking, de-duplicating and labelling each file using specialist software and methods to migrate email archives that are not available to consumers.

In an archive, the same email may be duplicated and replicated many times over – sometimes thousands of the same email may exist and from people no longer with the organization. Best practice here is to remove those duplicates and unneeded archives, a daunting task if done manually.

Now imagine that the subject line of different emails was the same; how would you know from the subject without looking at the content of each mail to see if it was different in any way? Manually scanning each file in a bid to consolidate and streamline would take an eternity.

Selecting a Microsoft Office 365 Migration Partner

Ultimately, upgrading your legacy content to a digitized life in the cloud will save money in the long run, while also aiding the user experience and safeguarding against compliance issues.

Manually performing an archive migration is possible, providing the in-house knowledge exists and ongoing costs of storage are not an issue. However, enlisting the services of a migration specialist capable of scanning, de-duplicating and transferring multiple files in a quick, efficient manner can make sound business sense, especially where there are large, sprawling email archives and getting the knowledge and equipment in-house just isn’t feasible.

This is especially true when you consider an Office 365 migration (like an old VHS tape conversion) is generally done once, so by the time you’ve accomplished a level of expertise, you’ll never use this skill set again.

Additionally, a specialist vendor can ensure continuous access to your data in both original ‘tape’ and post-conversion form throughout your migration, keeping users happy and eliminating risk.

Whether you’re looking to move from VHS-like technology, such as end-of-life versions of Enterprise Vault, or migrate from Exchange to Office 365Quadrotech offers a range of fast, reliable migration services. 

If you’d like to discuss a potential migration project, please contact us and a member of our team will be in touch and offer a quote.