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Outlook Personal Folders vs. Archive

Posted on 2013-01-01
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What's the difference between using archive folders and personal folders?
Advantages/Disadvantages, and applications for each please.
Please do not give me any Microsoft links.  
In the eyes of Microsoft everything they make is wonderful, great and the solution to all world problems.
I want to know when to use each.
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Question by:brothertruffle880
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Expert Comment

by:Rajkumar-MCITP
ID: 38734409
Both the Personal Folder and the Archive Folders are Data File Storage to store emails

Personal Folder: Its a personal storage file to have a copies of emails offline. Moving emails from Exchange Online account to a Personal folder will leave you an option to not to access those emails from different outlook account or using webmail (OWA), because of you move the emails to local folder.

Archive Folder: Prior to Exchange Server 2010, It is same like personal folder but with the difference of, In personal folder you manually create a data file storage and you are manually moving the email to personal folder to reduce the size of mailbox, where in archive folder, based on Archive Settings to move certain days old ( default 6 months old) emails from online mailbox to Archive folder.

So both the Personal Folder and Archive folder will have the offline copy of emails in a user computer.

In Exchange Server 2010, MS have a concept of Archive Mailbox, this will look same like archive folder but all the emails will stored in the mailbox itself, If you accessing emails from one machine in 1st floor and from second floor, configure the outlook on different  computer will show all the emails.

Archive mailbox can be used when the company dont want to leave any emails in  a Personal folder or archive folder to monitor all the emails to comply with email policies and regulations.

Please inform if it is not clear.
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Expert Comment

by:Steve
ID: 38734698
we use personal folders to backup files from outlook if required outside of the profile - we don't use archive folders.
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Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 2000 total points
ID: 38735884
I don't think you can compare the two.
Personal Folders are PST files stored on the local machine only. As far as I am concerned there is no difference between deleting the content and storing them in a PST file. You will lose the content both ways. You cannot backup PST files, you cannot store them on a network share and they get corrupted very easily.

The only archive is basically a second mailbox, which means the data is stored within Exchange databases. That is more efficient storage than PSTs (100mb of email in Exchange can be up to 300mb in a PST file) and easier to backup. You can have access to the content from multiple locations.

I only use PST files for one task only and that is migrations where I cannot do cross forest. On all sites that I manage the use of PST files is banned and the ability to create them blocked by Group Policy.

Simon.
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