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!!