What is In-Place Archiving in Exchange Server?

Amit SinghCloud Security Engineer
I am a dynamic Tech Enthusiast, specializing in various Microsoft technologies.
In this article, we have learned about In-Place Archiving in Exchange Server.  Also, I have shared in detail what In-Place Archiving is, how to enable it, and what needs to consider when enabling In-Place Archiving.
When the mailboxes of users get full on Exchange Server, the usual practice is to export data from the mailbox to PST file. However, there is a risk of security with the PST files as these files can be easily accessed with any Outlook profile. There is an option to set password for the file, but if the user left the company and didn’t share the password, it is not possible to open the file or retrieve data from it. The other thing is that large PST files are easily prone to corruption, especially when stored on a network share.

In Exchange Server, there is a feature called In-Place Archiving that provides option to store messaging data in an archive mailbox, thus eliminating the need for PST files. This is an additional mailbox that can be enabled for the primary mailbox of a user. The archive mailbox, which is stored on the Exchange Server, can be accessed from Outlook and Outlook for mobile or web. In-Place Archiving can be configured depending on the load and the business needs, apart from the storage requirements. Let’s see how to configure In-Place Archiving depending on the business setup.

Small Business Setup

If you’ve a small business setup, you can configure In-Place Archiving on the same mailbox database of the users. If you have Exchange Server Standard installed and already using five databases, there is no need to upgrade the license.

However, there are some limitations. With the increase in the size of database or archive, you need to increase the storage. Also, you will not be able to split the database. This would be a problem if the load and business requirements change.

Medium Business Setup

In this kind of setup, where the database is structured well, you can reserve one database in the license for archive database. The idea behind this is that the archive database can be stored in another hard drive, which would be on a separate volume or disk group on the SAN. If the archive storage is huge, it will not affect the performance of the server or the main database. It would also be cheaper as you can purchase slower hard drives with huge capacities.

Medium Business Setup 

Large Business Setup

In a large business setup, you can move from one server and expand the archive differently. For performance and resiliency, it is recommended to have a separate Exchange Server dedicated for archive purposes. However, you need to consider the cost of another Exchange Server license, along with new hardware.

Large Business Setup 
There are several benefits of this setup.
  • The archive is separate from the live setup. So, performance-wise, the archive does not affect the live setup.
  • Maintenance can be performed on the live setup without impacting the live setup.
  • The server, along with the storage of the archive, can be with low specifications.

How to Archive the Data?

The data to archive mailbox can be transferred manually, where the user can drag and drop the items in the archive folder. The user can also set up automatic move to archive by using the inbox rule and transfer emails based on subject, sender, and other criteria.
You can also use the import requests to import the PST files or any personal local archives a user wishes to import into the archive for safe keeping. This can be done using the Exchange Admin Center (EAC) or via PowerShell cmdlets in the Exchange Management Shell (EMS).

You can also use the Retention tags with Messaging Records Management (MRM) policies, where you can define the company’s policies for automatic archive. The policies work with tags. If an email is tagged with one-year archive or is identified to be one-year-old, it will be automatically moved to the online archive of the user. The default tags can be viewed in the default MRM policy in the Exchange Server. These can be easily customized as per the company’s need and legal obligations for retention of data. You can also define a process to delete the data after a specific date.

Emails, which are tagged, are not moved to archive instantly. Exchange Server has a service, called Managed Folder Assistant . This, from time-to-time, processes the mailbox and any tagged emails.

Although you might have a lot of storage available, the users will surely find a way to fill it up. So, fixing quotas on the archive mailbox is highly recommended. This way you can prepare the storage and be rest assured that the drive containing the mailbox databases will not be filled to the brim. This can be set via PowerShell or the Exchange Admin Center (EAC).

Mailbox Databases Quota

Things to Consider

Here are some things to consider before you proceed with archiving:
  • Before pushing a policy on all the users, it’s best to test it on some mailboxes to prevent unpleasant or unwanted moves or deletions.
  • The online archive must match the user mailbox version. If the mailbox is of 2013 version, then the database hosting the archive must reside on the 2013 Exchange Server version.
  • The In-Place Archive will have its own recoverable items folder.
  • When a legal hold is enabled on a user, it also affects the In-Place Archive.


As you can see, you can easily apply the MRM policies to enable the in-place archive, which will give great features and flexibility while having easy access to the archives. You need to also take into consideration the misconfigurations, issues, and migration of data.  For migration of data, you can use a specialized EDB to PST converter application.
Amit SinghCloud Security Engineer
I am a dynamic Tech Enthusiast, specializing in various Microsoft technologies.

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