Is online email ever really deleted permanently?
By Leo Notenboom
The Question:Does an email really get deleted? Whether you pull an email off of a server or log on to a service provider, don’t they backup their servers daily or hourly and wouldn’t that email still exist on the backup servers forever?
In this excerpt from Answercast #85 I look at the possibilities that server companies are making backups that store and keep old emails.
Online email permanently deleted
Well, you raise a very, very interesting point.
The short answer to your question is, “You’re absolutely right!” The longer answer to your question is, “We absolutely don’t know.”
Most email service providers (and this runs the gamut from Gmail to Hotmail, to your ISP to whatever email service you happen to be using) don’t publicize this kind of information:
•They don’t tell you how often they do backups.
•They don’t tell you what’s included in those backups.
•They don’t tell you how long those backups are kept;
•And they don’t tell you how often they expunge old backups from their system.
So, we don’t know. We quite literally do not know for any given email service provider what the answer is – and whether it’s the same answer for a different provider.
Assume the emails are kept
In order to be safe – if it matters at all? Yes. You have to assume that the mail servers are being backed up constantly. You have to assume that the backups are being kept forever.
Now, given that the backups might exist. Does that mean that you can arbitrarily ask the ISP to go retrieve something you deleted a few months ago?
This post is excerpted with permission from Leo Notenboom.
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