Develop your email archiving strategy

2nd October 2012

Our Microsoft Exchange mailboxes are designed for heavy business use. With 25GB storage as standard on our Classic mailbox, and the ability to upgrade to unlimited storage capacity, our customers can keep a huge number of emails, attachments, to-dos and calendar entries at their fingertips and available from multiple devices anywhere in the world.

Thanks to the massive mailbox storage available to our Microsoft Exchange customers, some people overlook the need for a proper email archiving strategy. After all, with all your messages available 'instantly' and your hosted mailboxes backed up daily by Simply Mail Solutions, why worry about archiving email messages?

Why email archiving is important

Even with the massive mailbox capacities a proper organisation-led email archiving strategy is important to avoid potential pitfalls with your businesses email procedures.

  • Deleted messages - We back up our customers' Exchange mailboxes nightly. Which means our customers messages are safe from data corruption and disk failure. However these back-ups only mirror the current state of your mailbox. If a message arrives in your inbox one morning and is deleted the same day then it won't appear in any back-ups, as they run overnight.
  • Faster mobile access - Smartphones and tablets operate with fewer resources and limited storage capacity. Running a large Exchange mailbox means slower mobile access to your messages, increases the amount of network traffic your email generates and puts greater pressure on your device's battery.
  • More mailbox space - Most customers don't reach the 25GB limit on their mailbox. However some do (especially if they work in an industry that passes around large files) and for these a proper archiving strategy is essential.
  • Compliance - Industries with message retention policies (eg for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley) cannot rely on employees retaining messages in their mailbox and need a more robust, management-led archiving solution.

Developing your email archiving procedure.

A robust email archiving strategy makes inbox management easier, improves efficiency and provides long-term message security. If your business doesn't have an email archiving procedure it can potentially cause problems in the future.

There are several ways of archiving mailboxes and we recommend taking a mixed-approach to guarantee maximum retention and ease of access to archived messages.

Microsoft Outlook archiving

The simplest way of archiving your mailbox is to use Microsoft Outlook's built-in archiving functions. Outlook can be configured to automatically create email archives at fixed schedules (once a month being a popular option). Archived emails are still available within Outlook (in special Archive folders) and show up in search results the same as regular Exchange folders.

Almost everyone should turn on Outlook's archiving feature as it provides an easy way to store messages and reduce the size of Exchange mailboxes. However relying solely on Outlook archives does have drawbacks.

The archives are only stored in the local copy of Outlook. This means archived messages are no longer part of your Exchange account, aren't synced with mobiles and tablets, and if anything happens to your PC (it's stolen or the hard drive damaged for example) then you lose all the archived messages.

Online archiving

Our online email archiving solution complements Outlook's built-in archiving and provides automatic retention of every email sent and received. Emails are archived before they reach your inbox, so even if a message is deleted accidentally it is retrievable and can be redelivered. Automatic archives do not count towards your Exchange mailbox capacity.

For IT administrators, our online Exchange archiving makes it easy to comply with corporate (and legal) retention policies. Rules can be set in place to control the archiving of individual mailboxes and messages can be redelivered to individual mailboxes, or exported from the email archive in standard PST and MBOX formats, using a simple web interface.

Keeping it all together.

Keeping emails in an active state in your Exchange mailbox is an inefficient way to deal with archiving needs. It slows down mobile access and makes it more difficult to find recent essential messages. Any business that has to ensure emails are stored long-term needs an active mailbox archiving programme.

Combining local Microsoft Outlook archives with automatic online 'cloud' archiving provides the most complete solution for message retention and is the procedure recommended by Simply Mail Solutions.

Find out more about our Microsoft Exchange archiving.

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