More data is made up of multimedia files, for example, which take up more space than simple text documents. Compliance and legal requirements force organizations to create more data, too, and to keep it for longer periods of time. And of course, increasing email volumes are also fueling the problem.
Some email streams contributing to an administrator’s storage woes are controllable, others are not. The volume of external spam targeting an organization, for instance, is beyond an administrator’s control, although it can be mitigated through the use of filters and other anti-spam measures.
Sometimes software flaws can contribute to ballooning email volumes, too, as many administrators using Exchange 2010 discovered. A version of that program contained a bug that needlessly created duplicates of messages and attachments and stashed them in the Recoverable Items Folder, formally known as Dumpster.
Some email volumes are more controllable, though, such as internal spam and fluff mail. Through the effective use of email policy, employees can help an administrator tighten the belt on email bloat by reducing the number of “empty” emails — emails containing chatty conversations and extracurricular information — ending up in their email archives.
Another way to control email volumes is through quotas. In theory, quotas can make employees more conscientious about what they save and what they delete. When they see that “You’re Approaching Your Quota” message, employees may be more judicious about their email practices.
On the other hand, quotas can be inviting disaster by asking employees to be the final arbiter on what’s important and what’s not to an organization.
However, if quotas are too restrictive they can create more problems than they solve. That’s because such quotas fail to recognize how email is used by most workers today.
“The average employee uses email at work has changed,” Peter Bauer, CEO and co-founder of Mimecast, a cloud-based email archiving, continuity and security provider, recently said in a statement. “For many people, email is no longer just a messaging system. It has become the primary tool for storing, sharing and searching for information.”
Because that’s the case, it shouldn’t be surprising that a recent survey by Mimecast showed that employees spend half their working day — four hours — working with email.
The survey is also discovered that workers preferred email over social media for collaboration in the workplace. More than three quarters (76 percent) of the respondents in the survey said that social media had not reduced the need for email when communicating with peers.
While email quotas can be a useful tool to keep message volumes in check, if they’re too restrictive, they can reduce an organization’s productivity by preventing workers from using email the way they need to use it to get their jobs done.
Microsoft, when designing Exchange 2013, took an extreme view toward quotas. Because the software’s architecture allows it to run well on low-budget hardware, it believes quotas can be entirely eliminated from a business environment.
Quotas are a big productivity problem, Ross Smith, principal program manager for Exchange, told TechRadar. “[U]sers come in and they spend the first hour of the day deleting mail so they’re back on quota,” he asserted.