retention backups

I am after some very top level advice on an issue. We have several information stores (i.e. file servers, mailbox database servers, databases etc). Some data within these stores have very specific retention policies. I.e. certain mail must be kept for so many years, certain records in databases must be kept for some many years, certain documents on file servers must be kept for several years. Albeit not a backup admin, the backup process will backup these in their entirity and write them out to tape. So all files on a specific drive on a file server would be included in the same backup. All email in all mailboxes would be backed up in the same backup (or the entire mailbox DB), all data in a database will be backed up in the same job.

The other side of the issue is their are also policies on not holding onto personal data longer than neccesary. When you have a mix of data with different retention requirements - how does the retention policy work - without having to configure very specific individual backup jobs for each specific set of records? It sounds a nightmare when the same backup job is backing up a multitude of different types of data in single jobs?
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pma111Asked:
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Thomas GrassiSystems AdministratorCommented:
Have you ever considered using Journaling on the email server?

This will log every email no matter what retention policy you have for individuals or groups etc.

Is this Exchange ? what version?
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Thomas RushCommented:
I think you'll find it nearly impossible to maintain different retention policies if all your data is backed up as one backup.  Backup applications were developed for tape, and tape does not allow for deletion of data within an instance of a particular backup job.

However, there is no reason you can't create multiple backup jobs: One would back up just your database, one would back up just your Exchange data, one would back up files from key directories A, F, and Q, and one would back up the rest of the machine (and do this to as fine a granularity as is needed to meet legal and business rule compliance).  
NOTE: In planning this, it's a good thing to look at your retention policies and see if they really do make logical sense.  You'll find that at some point having more than x number of policies becomes... cumbersome.

Now each backup job can be set for a different retention policy, and five years (or two, or ten) down the road, you can copy the backup jobs you need to retain to new media (and in the process, consolidate your jobs onto fewer, possibly newer and higher capacity tapes) and then reformat the original tape(s).

Note: Data on tape which is past its backup-application set retention period is not automatically deleted, and won't be deleted until the tape is erased or overwritten.
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