Email Retention - FAQ
- What is an Email Retention Policy?
- Email retention refers to the limits placed on the length of time an email should reside in a user’s mailbox. The University of Houston email server provides “post office” facilities for current users. Its purpose is to receive and store incoming mail for users and forward outgoing email for delivery. Users are assigned individual “mailboxes” where incoming and outgoing email messages are stored until deleted by the user.
- Why do we need this policy?
- UH needs an email management policy to comply with the law, to be fiscally responsible by eliminating unnecessary file storage space, and to apply best practices for retaining electronic records, which will improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness.
- Are email records handled differently than paper?
- Email messages should be treated just like a paper document in terms of retention. The content of the document is what is important, not the format.
- How do I know if an email is a university record?
- A university record is any document (including email), that is part of a mission critical decision, shows why a decision was made, or is required for legal, tax, fiscal, or audit purposes. Email messages that meet any of these criteria are university records, and have the same retention as similar paper based records.
- What are my responsibilities as a user of a University of Houston email account?
- How should I keep my mailbox clean?
- Who is responsible for retaining email messages, the sender or the recipient?
- Just as with paper records, both senders and recipients of email messages must determine if a particular message should be retained based on their responsibility to maintain the information.
- How long do I keep an email message that is not a university record?
- Email messages that are not university records are considered transitory correspondence. Transitory messages are created primarily for routine communication, and should be deleted once they are no longer useful. For instance, an email message that notifies employees of an upcoming meeting would only have value until the meeting is held.
- What if I am not sure how to classify an email message for retention purposes?
- If you are unsure about the classification of a message, ask your manager or college/division business administrator for assistance. If you still need help in classifying a message, contact the System Records Retention Officer.
- Who is the UHS Records Retention Officer?
- Mr. David Ellis, Executive Director, Financial Reporting
- As an email server administrator, how long do I need to keep backups of my email servers?
- No more than 12 weeks.
- As an email server administrator, am I required to restore email from a backup image if a user requests an old email or for a legal hold?
- No. Backups are maintained solely for systems restoration and disaster recovery purposes, not for email retention purposes.
- As an email server administrator, what are my responsibilities if I am notified of a legal hold?