I always have this pile of laundry, that seems to get bigger daily. At some point in time, I feel like this is something I will never be able to tackle because it just keeps getting worse. Suddenly, I look at it one day and decide enough is enough. I grab a load, get it started, and off I go. The next thing you know I have it all cleared out. Fast forward a month from then and guess what? Same story.

Records Retention is not all that different of a problem. You look at your file shares and can’t believe that suddenly, you have terabytes of data. Things are all over the place, security is a mess, and people have access to things they shouldn’t. The next thing you know, your buddy from Legal calls down and says that we need to get a pretty serious search going for some regulatory investigation. By the way, that is across email, files, and the content/collaboration systems. They need it by tomorrow AM.

This is something people deal with daily. Some firms have gone the distance to create a very robust set of policies and tools to assist them. However, many firms have just stopped at email. Let’s look at email for a minute just to think about how much of a mountain of laundry that can be.

Email Proper

This is the main place where email resides. Lots of firms only have this today. It is usually around their hamper and it starts to overflow at some point. They clean up a few things here and there but ultimately without policy on the amount of laundry you can have, it starts to overrun the hamper.


This is the next logical step for mail management. Most people do this just to save space and allow operations to run more smoothly. However, just because it is archived doesn’t mean that it goes away. You have to set policies in order to have things go away and really, most firms just let that archive go forever. The laundry is not in the way of where you are walking now, but you are really just kicking it into the closet. It will pile up even higher here now because it becomes even less watched and seen.

Compliance Engines

These grab the email that might be in violation of policies. These are also saved or in many cases archived. If this product is part of a suite than it might leverage the same copy you have in your archive. If not, guess what, now you have laundry in the closet and under the bed – and it is the same pair of jeans! I didn’t know I had two pairs of jean shorts?


People send email with files all the time. Very few firms stop that practice. This means that the files you have on your shared drives are likely the same ones in email. Now you have clothes under you bed, in the closet, and pairs of shoes mixed in there. This is where things that don’t even belong in the laundry start to show up.

The worst part about this laundry being everywhere is that when you try to get rid of it you have to check a lot of places and manage it several ways. The even worse part is when you think you got rid of it at Goodwill and then suddenly it shows up. This is what happens in a legal discovery and if you can find that one email but can’t find the rest of the chain, you are not looking too good. Get control of your laundry, before you have nothing left to wear.


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