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How do we access retained messages after archive or deletion?

Posted on 2008-10-08
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We are running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 on one server box for all of our company's email needs.  Our system administrator has set the retention policy to 6 years (2190 days) for all email messages.  Now our users still have the capability to delete emails from Microsoft Outlook and/or archive emails to a PST file.  Although this is happening, my understanding is that because of the retention policy, all email messages are still being stored in Exchange.  

The problem has been that we have no idea how to access those messages after they have been deleted or archived off the server by a user.  Even if we restore a mailbox from backup tape, only the messages that would have been accessible to the employee/user during the time of backup are accessible after the restore operation.  Where do the deleted/archived messages go and how can we access them?  

Our end goal is to (1) verify the messages are being safely backed up to tape and then (2) adjust our retention policy number down in order to free up space on the Exchange Server.  Please help!!
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Question by:ellisgolf
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by:Interserv
Interserv earned 80 total points
ID: 22675066
To have every email, even if a user deletes it, you would have to be journaling all emails coming into the server.  If this is the case you can look into the journaling mailbox and see all of the emails.

I would suggest that you look at something like Symantec Enterprise Vault for archiving/email retention.  the Software works really good and involves virtually no administration once it is installed and configured.  This makes it easier than going to backups to restore individual emails if a user deletes an important email that they need restored.
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by:ellisgolf
ID: 22675503
If that was the case, though, what would be the purpose of the retention policy setting?  We do not have journaling enabled on this server....unfortunately.
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by:
ellisgolf earned 0 total points
ID: 22702417
It looks like all the messages are still stored in the Exchange Server --- and can be accessed through the "dumpster" function.  Whew!  We have ALL messages we need.  One thing we learned in our research, however, is when a System Admin moves a mailbox between data stores, everything in the dumpster gets permanently deleted and is not able to be recovered.
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