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  • Server 2003 R2
  • Active Directory
  • Exchange 2003
  • Windows XP
  • Outlook 2003

Everything is up to date with latest service packs.

Occasionally a user will be prompted to archive their old mail. Some click this...

We use cached exchange mode.

4 Questions

  1. What is happening exactly when a user chooses to archive their mail?
  2. Should I use cached exchange mode? I like its speed and reduction in network traffic.
  3. How should an administrator properly archive old mail in this environment?
  4. I know we are missing older emails. What steps would one suggest to try and locate it.

I took over this role and there is a major lack of documentation. Thank you for your input

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

We face much the same problem. In order to archive mail Outlook needs to be configured to have an archive PST file somewhere. Where that is can vary, but I believe the default is somewhere in the user's My Documents folder. This can be changed. During the archive process mailbox objects (messages, appointments, todo lists, whatnot) are compared versus the AutoArchive settings for that mailbox or specific folders. Stuff that's older than a certain point is either copied to the PST file, or deleted. If you have it enabled, these messages will remain in 'Recover deleted items' space for some time.

Cached mode is much more efficient than direct connect mode. Some users who have been in direct connect mode don't like moving to cached mode since email turn-around time (the time it takes to hit send to a distribution list the user is a member of and when it actually shows up in the mailbox) is noticeably slower in cached mode. Potentially a lot slower. However, if they've never been in direct-connect mode, there is no reason to make them.

The one thing about cached mode is that it also caches the Global Address List. So if you're making changes to GAL data, it won't show up on cached-mode user's GAL lists until some time has passed. Again, if this doesn't bother you then don't worry about it.

It sounds like you need to review the procedures for configuring Auto Archive settings on your desktops. That should tell you how things are being handled (is auto-archive deleting things, or copying to a pst file somewhere?) as well as suggest remedies.

Handling archive files without a true Email Archive platform is tricky. About the only methods available to Exchange/Outlook environments are:

  • Leave everything in the mailstores
  • Deal with PST archive files on an individual basis

Most organizations opt for the second bullet point.

share|improve this answer
Wow thanks. Your final comments scare me. Seems ridiculous to deal with even my small 30 user company archive .pst files on an individual basis. I am now concerned a lot of important email has been lost forever...... – Campo Sep 14 '10 at 4:16
I will be following your suggestions thanks – Campo Sep 21 '10 at 14:59

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