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Need a proper solutions to archive huge amounts of e-mail

Posted on 2008-10-10
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Hi Experts,

I actually need a piece of advice on archiving large amounts of e-mail on one of our customers network.

They use an Exchange 2003 standard mailserver and have about 60 employees. Those employees receive and sent lots and lots of e-mail (mostly with attachments) and so gather large amounts of e-mail. Since they manage to gather several gigabytes of e-mail per user in only a few months, they quickly receive a message from the server that their mailbox is reaching the 2Gb limit.

At that point the user decides to archive to a PST files and that's where the real mess begins....

They create PST files locally or on the network but most of the times they don't even know where did put it as long as they can clean up their mailbox and carry on working.
The problem that arises is that lots and lots of PST files are scattered all over the network and most of them aren't being backed up since theyre stored locally. Microsoft strongly advises not to use PST files on a network and even if I do, the laptop users won't be able to access those while being on the road.

I have looked at solutions like GFI Mail Archiver but I'm not sure what to think about it. Because all mail is being "archived" through the journaling option in Exchange, you're actually archiving ALL mail instead of portions of it. And the PST files they already have, can't be merged into the GFI database.

What's the best thing to do here? Should I consider upgrading to Exchange 2007? I read that it doesnt has any mailbox size limit so that way we don't need to archive anymore right?

Thanks in advance!
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Question by:dynamation
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10 Comments
 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:RobinHuman
ID: 22685438
Either look at one of the archiving solutionswhich, as you say, continuously archive, and merely give the impression of being online - GFI, commvault, Datadomain, Autonomy etc - or alternatively you could use outlook group policy template plugins to specify where archive folders are stored - a dedicated storage area, for example.
You can download the office gpo templates which drive outlook policies here
http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/HA011513711033.aspx
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:dynamation
ID: 22685452
Hi RobinHuman,

I already looked at the ADM templates but I wasn't able to find anything about this.

Are you talking about forcing AutoArchive options? Unfortunately you're unable to force a specific location through a GPO. And even if you could, using PST files on a network is unadviced due PST corruption that may appear right? I also have a problem with the laptop users then beceause offline folders won't let me sync PST files from a network drive.
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:RobinHuman
ID: 22685736
You can set paths for PST files in the policy - in miscellaneous - but pst files is not ideal because of the possibility of data loss; it is, however, a solution that does work - we use it, in cached mode.
If you don't want to go down that route, you will need to look at one of the corporate mail archiving systems and they are not cheap, so it's finding a balance
You might want to check out something like symantec's enterprise vault
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Author Comment

by:dynamation
ID: 22701736
Yes but how do you access those PST files when outsite of the network since offline folders won't sync PST files?
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:RobinHuman
ID: 22701795
Depends - we use roaming profiles, with the path pointing to the user's profile - so when they are offline, it loads the profile stored on the local machine, which has the PST stored as well as on the network.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:dynamation
ID: 22701822
But if I would implement such a solution some employees would get very long logon/logoff times because a lotf of them have over 10GB PST files. And you don't want to copy them from and to the network every time.

Any experience with Exchange 2007?
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:RobinHuman
ID: 22701912
Not too familiar with exch 2k7, I'm afraid..
I Do think that you need to have these backed up centrally, though...
..and (although we know this is difficult) train the users to follow procedure;
Put an e-mail policy into place and give them all a copy - the last page could include tips on mailbox maintenance...
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LVL 42

Accepted Solution

by:
paulsolov earned 1500 total points
ID: 22846891
Enterprise Vault does a good job, especially for larger mailboxes.  It has a PST migrator which will archive the PST into the archive and has offline vault for mobile users as well as OWA access for the archives.  Users are able to access the archived PST like any other folder in the mailbox via Outlook or OWA.    The product works as a great tool to migrate from 2003 to 2007, less mail to migrate, just point the 2007 mailboxes to the archives and they're all set.  Works with 2003 and 2007 just fine and provides single instance storage where it just has pointers to a single email if they're in the same vault.

Another nice feature is when it archives, the users can search within the attachments such as pdf, excel, word, etc...
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:dynamation
ID: 23155482
We saw a demo of Symantec Enterprise Vault but unfortunately we weren't able to get a trial version of it so we could test it more thoroughly. Also we can not implement Enterprise Vault ourselves since Symantec only does this theirselves.

We will look into this solution and advise our customer that using Enterprise version of Exchange (without a database limit) is not adviced since I'm unaware of the consequences when a database becomes extremely large.

Paulsolov, thanks for the tip. I'll accept your reply as an answer, even when I was hoping for a more simple solution wich we could test and implement ourselves.
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