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By: Admin on November 13th, 2015

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What I Don’t Know Can Hurt Me; Beware of Indexers Disguised as Archive Migration Tools

Migrating content from an email archive can be a risky process if you are doing it in response to an eDiscovery request or you’re anticipating litigation in the future.  The key is that you have to ensure that all potentially relevant email, attachments and metadata is found and migrated without the original archived data being altered in any way. This might seem like a moderately simple process – just copy the archive - but in reality it can be a slow, complex and risky process if your email archive migration solution provider has not provided the capability to perform a legally defensible email migration.

Single-instanced archives are a problem for some migration vendors

Many email archive vendors provided single-instance storage to save on space in the archive. All associated email metadata, including: folder structure, read/unread, follow-up reminders, sender and all recipients (including CC and BCC) was stored in the email archive SQL database or single instanced files, usually on a separate server. This ensured that a single copy of a message with several recipients could be completely assembled by the archive when the message was viewed later by a user.

Some email migration solutions are not able to reconcile the SQL database metadata with the archived message and its reference to the single instanced files. This creates a problem because when the email migration occurs, the folder structure is not restored, read/unread/follow-up reminders are not set, the first name in the recipient section of the email is considered the only recipient, and the relationship of the email message to the other recipients is lost (figure 1). During discovery, this metadata loss could cause the email for a targeted custodian not to be found and therefore produced as relevant content. This oversight could produce charges of incomplete eDiscovery, or worse, an attempt to destroy evidence – otherwise known as spoliation.  

Metadata is lost if SQL database is not reconciled


Figure 1: Legally required metadata is lost if the SQL database is not reconciled with the archived email during migration

It is extremely important to ensure all content, including all metadata (from the SQL database) is migrated correctly so that your attorneys can certify they have performed a complete and legally defensible eDiscovery response.

Corruption in the archive

Another issue in litigation-based email migration is also closely related to the archive SQL database problem described above. 

It is not uncommon for email/attachments to either be corrupted during the archiving process or for whatever reason, while stored in the archive. The courts (and opposing counsel) are aware of this possibility and are willing to accept the inadvertent past corruption of evidence if it is properly documented and explained so that suspicion of evidence tampering or spoliation can be ruled out.

A serious issue can arise when content in the archive is inadvertently made unrecoverable (corrupt) but the fact is not reported to the opposing counsel and court during the eDiscovery phase.

Some email migration vendors simply index and copy viable emails from the archive email store without reconciling the SQL database metadata with each individual email. This process causes corrupt email/attachments to be left behind in the archive while failing to document the exception – something the opposing counsel and court must be made aware of (figure 2).


No reconciliation can cause a spoliation situation


Figure 2: No reconciliation between the SQL database and archive store can cause a spoliation situation

A legally defensible eDiscovery process includes producing an exhaustive exception report detailing what files were not produced and why (privilege and confidentiality) and what files were not reviewed or produced due to technical corruption and inability to be recovered. Without this exception report, charges of hiding or destroying evidence can be introduced, putting your entire case at risk.

Be thorough, make sure your migration solution is legally defensible

Archive 2-Anywhere is a complete, legally defensible, email migration solution that always reconciles the email archive with its SQL database to ensure all metadata is included in the migration process so that all custodians are associated with their email and all exceptions are reported (figure 3). 


Archive 2-Anywhere reconciles all metadata

Figure 3: Archive 2-Anywhere ensures all metadata is reconciled during migration

This complete reconstruction capability is an absolute necessity when migrating content during litigation. Talk to Archive360 today about their Archive 2-Anywhere product suite to make sure your email archive migration is legally defensible and hassle-free.