PC users are failing to archive emails because they are often too busy or too unsure of their IT skills.
According to a recent survey, three quarters of employees said they received no guidance on the requirements and methods for email storage, and more than a third even said their company has no email policy.
A third of workers said they had lost important electronic documents and never found them. Over half said email archiving is too time-consuming, and 30 percent find it "complicated" or "unreliable".
Some 41 percent of the 260 workers interviewed leave files attached to emails forever, and only half said they have an enforced limit on the storage space for their messages. Over a quarter save the files to the company system, and 28 percent save them to their hard drive.
GFT Inboxx, the unified archiving supplier that commissioned the survey, said the poor storage of emails meant firms risked breaching regulatory requirements, and were also putting a costly strain on their mail servers.
Juergen Obermann, chief executive at the firm, said: "These results suggest one of two things: that organisations are still taking a lax approach to the storage of information and the management of email, or that organisations are failing to communicate the rules to their employees and thus failing to control staff use of email and storage of potentially critical information.”
Businesses are "running the risk of losing or making untraceable a vast amount of data", Obermann warned. He added: "Nothing is more valuable to a business than the ability to very quickly and reliably review a given process or project. If information is becoming lost and chains of communication are being broken, it's impossible for businesses to see the whole picture - and further down the line mistakes are going to be made."