24 June 2009

UK businesses oblivious to million-pound email bill

mailbox retrieval costs set to escalate, warns Kroll Ontrack

The average medium-sized business can incur thousands of pounds per year in hidden mailbox recovery costs (see notes to editors) as a result of inefficient backup and archive management. This is according to Kroll Ontrack, the global data management expert.

With the number of emails projected to increase from the current level of 156 email messages per user, per day to 233 by 2012,1 this cost is set to rise further over the next three years – resulting in a multi-million pound bill for the sector.2

Medium-sized enterprises are likely to have small IT teams or one-man departments, and IT managers must be efficient with time as they have broad responsibilities. Coupled with this are budget reductions and a lack of understanding about the often hidden costs associated with mailbox recovery, such as setting up a recovery server and the time spent retrieving information from full or brick-level backups. Businesses therefore face a difficult choice between incurring such costs or not recovering the data and potentially compromising their commercial interests.

From its daily experience of helping medium sized firms manage their mailbox data quickly and cost-effectively, Kroll Ontrack estimates that the average IT administrator spends a quarter of their time dealing with mailbox recoveries, much of which could be avoided by basic archive management.

To address this, Kroll Ontrack has devised a three-point plan outlining how to achieve effective mailbox archive management:

  • Minimise archive size and cost - following an initial backup, the data that is transferred to the archives should be evaluated. Data with a business, compliance or proprietary value should be retained.
  • Maintain archive health – archived data is valuable. Regularly ensure archives are functioning and that the location and identification of data on the archives is documented.
  • Safe erasure – data that is not archived should be permanently erased using accredited software.

Following this process will result in a smaller and more manageable archive should information need to be retrieved following data loss. Putting effective policies in place is particularly important as mailboxes are a repository for a wide variety of information, including business and financial records, contacts and calendars. Mailboxes also often hold data required for compliance purposes as certain laws and regulations require such information to be retained.

“It is more a case of when, and not if, mailbox data loss occurs. Not recognising that data loss is inevitable could ultimately be very costly,” said Phil Bridge, UK managing director at Kroll Ontrack. “The loss of mailbox data can dramatically impact IT efficiency as it diverts valuable resources away from other important activities. By reducing archive size initially and putting a reliable software solution in place to enable fast retrieval of mailbox data, IT managers can be confident that provide fast, effective and cost-efficient mailbox data recovery.”


Businesses are urged to have a recovery plan in place to prepare for the eventuality that data is lost or deleted. Ontrack PowerControls performs fast data recovery, restore and search directly from Microsoft® Exchange and SharePoint® server backups, un-mounted database files (EDB) and Information Store files.


Based on the recoveries Kroll Ontrack sees on a regular basis, it estimates that the average IT administrator manages about 1,000 mailboxes and gets about three requests per month for email recovery.

Of these recoveries: One is an easy recovery (requiring three hours to complete a recovery), one is medium (requiring six hours to complete a recovery) and one is hard (requiring 30 hours to complete a recovery). This is 39 hours per month on average.

Based on the average wage of an IT administrator on £36,014, this works out at £18.47 an hour (based on 37.5 hours a week), the total cost for email recovery comes out at £8,643.96 a year.

1 The Radicati Group, Inc. (August 11, 2008). The Radicati Group, Inc. Releases ‘Email Security Market, 2008-2012’ Study, [Press release].
2 Average figure based on 26,400 medium sized enterprises (50-249 people) within the UK (Office of National Statistics) each spending approximately £8,600 per year on email recovery