Archiving Exchange

Hello Everyone,
I'd like to start a conversation around archiving in Exchange.

We run about 160 Mailboxes in our Exchange Server. Our database is about 175GB. We are currently running 2007 Standard and are about to transition to 2010 standard.

The thing is, I really want to take the opportunity to trim down our database. So, I am looking for some archiving solutions. We'd like a solution that presents the user (ie daily or weekly) with options to delete or archive mail items that are 3 years (or some other period that we select.

I know that the enterprise version of exchange has archiving features. But, I don't know if it really has that functionality where it (through emails or outlook) tells the user the messages that need to be considered for deletion or archiving. And, even if it does, I am not sure that archiving would really do much for us.

In some ways I get it. Archiving mail pulls data out of the mailbox database and puts it in a .pst file. The .pst file is easier to handle than a huge mailbox database and it doesn't slow down the exchange server. But, after a while, running a 4-6GB .pst file is going to have problems also. for example, it won't index, you can't run offline files against it, it still needs to have storage somewhere. And if it's all garbage, you are still paying to store garbage.

I understand that exchange 2010 enterprise doesn't archive to .pst. It actually maintains a separate mailbox just for archiving. But, I still have to store and backup that archive. So, it's not really differentiated from a regular mailbox database. It does make it more transparent to the end user, but it doesn't help me address the cost of storing and maintaining unimportant emails (ie birthday wishes, jokes, political commentary). I suppose that some environments would keep slower disks available for the archive database. But, I am not sure that we are looking to do that.

I guess, what it comes down to is that I don't want to store & maintain the unimportant emails in the main database or the archive database or an archive.pst file. I want to prompt the user to review for deletion before they archive. I can't guarantee that they won't store these things, but at least I can put some pressure on them.

Anyway, I may be kind of rambling on a bit, but these are my questions....

1). If I am not going to provision a separate backup scheme or disk technology, is there any point in archiving through exchange 2010 enterprise?

2). Does Exchange 2010 enterprise or standard have features where the servers suggests emails to the user which they should delete or archiving?

3). Are you aware of other archiving solutions that might make sense for our scenario?

Thanks,
Ben
Jack5BackAsked:
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
All editions of Exchange have Archiving. To use Archiving you need ENTERPRISE CALs, which you can use with standard edition of Exchange.
Although a 175gb database isn't exactly large. When you can have four databases (plus public folders) and each database should ideally be a maximum of 150gb, then you are well beloew anything to get concerned about.

PST files aren't really archiving. They don't scale well and are generally a pain to manage. You cannot store and use them on a network share and they break easily. I tell clients that there is no difference between storing email in a PST file and deleting it, eventually it will be lost.

Exchange archiving works on the simple basis of the age of the email. It doesn't suggest anything to the user. I am not aware of any product that does that - you have to take these things out of the users hands.

As for other solutions, there are loads on the market. I cannot comment on them though as I haven't used anything other than GFI Mail Archiver.

Simon.
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KimputerCommented:
Is there a budget for a paid solution? If so, take a look at Mailstore Server:
http://www.mailstore.com/en/mailstore-server-features.aspx
I think it's probably a couple of tenners per user, but it works great to offload your Exchange server, plus the users have better search capabilities.
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Jack5BackAuthor Commented:
Thanks Kimputer

I'll take a look at this one. Does it have anything to encourage the user to delete unnecessary email?
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KimputerCommented:
No it doesn't. But this product has a better compression scheme anyway, so your archive database will be smaller than your Exchange database.
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GillesTCommented:
If you move to Exchange 2010, take care, that Exchange 2007 has Single Instance Storage that Exchange 2010 doesn't have. Your database about 175 GB will grow of at least 30%.

If you plan to use archive feature of Exchange 2010, you will need Enterprise Edition.

If you use archiving solution like GFI, MailStore, Symantec, Messaging Architects, you will keep the Single Instance Storage that can be interesting.

In all case, the better way to "encourage the user to delete unnecessary email" is to set quotas to mailboxes.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
"If you plan to use archive feature of Exchange 2010, you will need Enterprise Edition."

That is wrong. As I have already said you need ENTERPRISE CALS, but you can use ENTERPRISE CALS with Standard edition of Exchange.

The only difference between standard and enterprise edition of Exchange is the number of databases it supports - all other functionality is the same.

I am not aware of any product that encourages users to delete email. You are seeking a technical solution to a behavioural problem.

Simon.
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