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EExchange 2010; If I set up a GPO to permenently delete older emails sufficient (autoarchive options), or do I need to set Retention Policy Tags too?  If so, do I need enterprise CALs?

Posted on 2014-07-18
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Last Modified: 2014-07-18
We are running Exchange 2010 Enterprise (standard CALs), and are looking at a cloud archiving solution.  Anything older than 1 year will be archived to the cloud.  In order to clean up the mailboxes/databases I understand we will need to set GPO's to remove items older than 1 year.  In setting the GPO, I can turn on the autoarchive function to run every <x> days and permanently delete the old items.  My question is this:  Is turning on the AutoArchive function enough to remove the older emails?  Or do I also need to set Retention Policies on the Exchange server, and if so, is it required to have Enterprise CALS?

Thank you,
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Question by:trinity2007
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by:Adam Farage
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My question is this:  Is turning on the AutoArchive function enough to remove the older emails?  Or do I also need to set Retention Policies on the Exchange server, and if so, is it required to have Enterprise CALS?

So lets dive deeper into what each actually does so you can understand what these are going to do:

the GPO with an ADMX template is utilized to set the AutoArchive function within Outlook. This means that emails older than X amount of days will then be moved to the local archive (e.g: PST), and not stored within Exchange. This does not require an enterprise license and will effectively clean up the clients mailbox, but there are a few caveats:

- it is NOT SUPPORTED to keep a PST file on a network drive while open within Outlook
- PST files have a maximum file size of 20GB, although I have seen corruption a lot lower and
- PST files have a higher corruption rate, so that means recovering from them is not only painful, but sometimes impossible

Moving onto the second option is the retention policies and tags...

You can set a retention policy to basically do one of two things:

- Move an email to an online (exchange hosted) archive or
- Delete the message and allow recovery (e.g: recoverable items / single item recovery) or delete the message without recovery

I would recommend this option for a few reasons:

- The online archive is hosted within Exchange, and is available to clients who are using Outlook 2010 Pro Plus +
- The online archive is also accessible through OWA
- Exchange backups will actually backup the online archive, as it is treated as a separate mailbox

Some of the caveats with this are as follows:

- You need an enterprise CAL
- More storage for Exchange is required, as you are basically moving emails from one mailbox to another (if you are not deleting them, but instead moving them to the online archive)
- You cannot view the online archive (or a PST file for that much) via EWS (e.g: Outlook for Mac, Entourage), Exchange ActiveSync or any other method other than Outlook 2010 Pro Plus and higher OR OWA

Here is some more information on retention tags and policies that I wrote a while ago: http://blogs.technet.com/b/theexchangeguy/archive/2012/06/04/retention-polices-and-tags-101.aspx

I would recommend the online archive (not the local) due to the recovery functionality, but at the same time you need to ensure you have enough storage to hold these emails online.
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by:trinity2007
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Thank you for the explanation.  We are in the initial stages of setting up with an external vendor to archive anything older than one year and is set to real time mode.  I'm trying to understand what I need to do on our side to clean up emails off the exchange server older than one year.  

Questions:
    1.  Can I just use the GPO settings for Autoarchive and set it to permanently delete items older than 1 year?  Would this be enough to remove from the exchange server?  
    2.  Set Retention policies on the Exchange side.  Will this incur the cost of Enterprise CALs.
    3.  From an Exchange perspective; what benefits does setting the Retention policies on the exchange server give us vs. using the autoarchive through GPO.

Our vendor told us that we would not need to have Enterprise CALs to clean up our mail server.  They are not giving any kind of recommendations though.   I just want to know the best way to remove items older than one year from our exchange server.

Thank you for your assistance.
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   1.  Can I just use the GPO settings for Autoarchive and set it to permanently delete items older than 1 year?  Would this be enough to remove from the exchange server?  

I think you can auto archive to PST, but not delete.

    2.  Set Retention policies on the Exchange side.  Will this incur the cost of Enterprise CALs.

I believe you can set it without an actual enterprise CAL, but you would be going outside your licensing.

    3.  From an Exchange perspective; what benefits does setting the Retention policies on the exchange server give us vs. using the autoarchive through GPO.

If you want to blow away (delete) any email older than a year, it is much simpler to setup a Default Policy Tag and set that to delete any email in the mailbox older than a year than setting up auto archiving, which then keeps a copy within a local PST. You need to review the business requirements, and make the determination of if you want to actually keep the emails, or just blow them away.
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by:trinity2007
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Perfect...thank you for your answers.  You've been very helpful
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by:Adam Farage
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No problem, glad to be of help!
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