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Exchange/Outlook general policy for small business

Posted on 2013-06-12
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Last Modified: 2013-06-21
Hello All,

Company I work for does not have an actual IT department.  I have been the go-to for a lot of the level 1/2 support.  Anyhow, recently I have noticed we do not have a general policy set in place when it comes to exchange/outlook.  In other words, users keep inbox with over 4-8k mails and never archive anything for the past 3 years.

I am reaching out to those veteran systems engineer on this board..

What are some suggestions/recommendations on a policy enforcement for exchange/outlook?

Basically, I have seen a couple users here with an OST size of 19GB or more.

Some of the things I wanted to enforce is, Auto-Archiving of anything older than 12 months.  But I would like to know if there are any other tips/tricks that I can use to my advantage to manage this splurge of email whoring..

## company info ##
No. of Users : 35
Current Exchange Database Size : 200GB
###############

I have full admin to the Active Directory and Exchange Server.
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Question by:Coupee46
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Expert Comment

by:edster9999
ID: 39243047
As long as you have updated Outlook and Exchange versions to reasonably recent versions (at least outlook 2010) you can go to 50GB on the OST file without any issues at all.

The first question - is where is the data safer ? If you force the users to archive to PSTs then the data is stored on their local hard disk.  Do you keep another backup of this onto a network drive ? or tape ?
If not - you will loose a hard disk in a pc at some time and all their old emails will be gone.
They will very quickly remember it was your idea to archive.
If you keep it in the mailbox on the server then you control the back (you do of course do daily tape backups of the email server, right ?)

Setting up auto archive is easy - but make sure you have plans to then back that data back up again afterwards.
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by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
ID: 39243050
The first question has to be MUST you retain the data?
If you are in a regulated business then you will need to find a way to store that data for up to seven years.

I wouldn't recommend using PST files (Auto Archiving). As far as I am concerned there is no difference between using PST files and deleting the content. You will lose it eventually.

200g bdatabase is peanuts, but if you have that in a single database you could split it up in to multiple. You haven't said which version of Exchange you are on, but if you are using Exchange 2010 then you could look at using the archiving function to get the data in to a second mailbox.

Simon.
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by:Coupee46
ID: 39243088
Thank you both for the prompt reply.

Well, I know a couple of the executives would require emails from 2+ years just for legal reasons, but thats only propbably 3 out of the 35 users.  

Simon - You're right it would be great if I can convince my manager to allow me to delete the older emails, but as of right now they wont let me..

Edster - you're right.. as I completed typing this question, I realized storing archive locally isnt a smart idea.. especially on some of these users computers.  We do have a network homedrive for each users.  I would love to be able to enable the autoarchive and store the pST to their respected home drive on the network.. this will ensure backup on the server.

As for exchange version.. unfortuantley, we are on OUtlook/Exchange 2007.  SO far there is no budget for an upgrade to 2010...

Another question, is there a way to enable autoarchive for each users via Active Directory or a policy in Exchange rather than having to go to each users computer and enabling this feature?
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Expert Comment

by:Simon Butler (Sembee)
ID: 39244214
PST files on a network share is not supported and the quickest way to corrupt the files.
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=297019

And:
http://blogs.technet.com/askperf/archive/2007/01/21/network-stored-pst-files-don-t-do-it.aspx

You can enable auto archiving via Group Policy. You will have to do it for each version of Office that you are using though. However if you need to keep the email I strongly discourage you from using PST files. They get corrupt very easily, are almost impossible to backup reliably and you will not know they are corrupt until it is too late (hence my comment about about deleting the content and the move to PST files being the same thing).

Simon.
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by:Coupee46
ID: 39245133
Thanks Simon for the reply and links..  I will keep that in mind.

So.. If I understand you correctly, you're advising the best policy to implement is to delete old emails permanently rather than archiving?  I would agree with this as well, but would have to refrain from implementing this policy on a few of the executives.. but at this point I would create a PST for each year, and throw it on the network drive.  This way we have a backup and if it does get corrupted we can always restore from earlier dates and sinces its an archive the only thing we use it for is to recover emails for legal purposes...

## In a nutshell what I am thinking of implementing.. (open for suggestions/revision) ##

1. implement an exchange retention policy to delete emails more than a year old from the server
-this policy will reduce server database storage size
2. implement an exchange retention policy to move emails over 90days from the inbox to another subfolder.
-this policy is to assist in minimizing latency when accessing the inbox
3. implement an auto archive for emails over a year old (locally) and move the PST to a network share for backup purposes and only mounting the PST when needed.
-this policy will create an archive for backup purposes that is accessible offline and periodically backed up
-see notes below as to why auto-archive directly to LAN/WAN is not recommended
4. implement a policy to auto-empty deleted box more than 2 weeks old
-this policy will reduce server database size
5. implement a policy to auto-remove sent items more than 4 weeks old
-this policy will assist in reducing server database size


Let me know what you think.. thanks.
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Simon Butler (Sembee) earned 500 total points
ID: 39248359
No, I am not suggesting that.
The comment was basically saying that archiving is a waste of time, because if you do it, then you are removing the content from Exchange and will eventually lose it. As such you may as well delete the content.

I have seen PST files get corrupted from the moment they are created when put on a network share. So no backup would get you a file that works correctly. PST files are evil things.
Furthermore if you are legally required to keep the content, and you have PST files which are corrupt, then the judge will slap you down with a large fine. If you need to keep the content then you will have to invest in a proper archiving tool, or keep the content in Exchange.

As I wrote above - a 200gb database is peanuts. A 19gb mailbox is peanuts and 8000 emails is nothing, I have a folder on my home Exchange platform with over 250,000 emails in it.

Storage is cheap, and keeping the content in Exchange is the most efficient.
With PST files, 100mb of email in Exchange will use 300mb of space in a PST file.

Create second mailboxes and move the content to those. You can easily backup and restore those databases and search across them.

PST files are no archive solutions.

Simon.
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by:Coupee46
ID: 39252071
Thanks Simon. I understand.

Reading into Exchange 2010, i like the idea of a Personal Archive.
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