Friday, 13 April 2007

The Missing Emails

Dan Froomkin leads with the story of the extremely 'careless' White House losing emails.

Countless e-mails to and from many key White House staffers have been deleted -- lost to history and placed out of reach of congressional subpoenas -- due to a brazen violation of internal White House policy that was allowed to continue for more than six years, the White House acknowledged yesterday.

The leading culprit appears to be President Bush's enormously influential political adviser Karl Rove, who reportedly used his Republican National Committee-provided Blackberry and e-mail accounts for most of his electronic communication.

My question is this. If the RNC IT department has been doing its job properly, then the majority of these missing emails should have been archived to tape and still available.

In all organisations that I have worked in, the mail server, along with all the other file servers, is backed up (usually to tape) on a daily basis. A 'grandfather' system of tape rotation is used so that once a week the server is backed up to a weekly tape (there will be a number of tapes that are cycled so a weekly tape is used, say, every four weeks). Then, once per month, a monthly tape is inserted into the rotation, and this tape is kept as part of a rotation, or in some instances, forever.

Therefore, my question would be, how often is the RNC mail server backed up (they must do this or they would lose all email records in a system crash), what tape rotation policy is followed and how far back do the tapes go.

If the IT department at the RNC is doing its job properly, tape backups should have records going back months and years. Whilst it may not be a 100% complete record (an email could be received after one monthly backup and deleted before the next one is taken) I would suspect that a significant proportion of emails would be archived.

No comments: