The Houston Chronicle’s TechBlog has a post entitled “E-mail is forever” that covers on how long, and when, email is saved.
Let’s say you send an e-mail from your PC at work to a friend’s PC at her office. The message is saved:
- Depending on how your company configures e-mail, possibly on your desktop machine.
- On the corporate outgoing e-mail server.
- On a backup or archival server, depending on the company.
- On the incoming e-mail server of the recipient.
- On any backup servers that company may use.
- On the PC of the recipient.
There may be other copies made in the chain as well. And if you or the recipient forwards the e-mail, the number of stored copies grows that much more.
There’s a saying smart human resources directors share with employees when warning them about less-than-judicious use of a company’s e-mail system: Never put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of your hometown newspaper.
That last part bears repeating: don’t put something in an email you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of a newspaper.