When defining email archiving policies administrators can all too easily get tied up thinking about managing an end users mailbox, and using that idea to drive the way policies are setup. But there is more to it than that. In this article I will show you two aspects of an email arching policy which are sometimes forgotten.
Shortcuts or not
One of the big questions to ask yourself when defining email archiving policies is whether or not to create shortcuts to archived items. You have to remember that shortcuts themselves aren't free-size, they will consume space in the mailbox. Overtime this space consumption can become significant, and if mailbox quotas are introduced (or are already in place) there might come a time when not enough items can be archived to get users under their quota - and it might be because of the sheer number and size of shortcuts.
Our Mailbox Analysis tool can help show you on a mailbox by mailbox basis what sort of quantity of items in the mailbox are shortcuts, and how much space they take up.
If you do opt to create shortcuts, then you can of course set shortcut expiry to help with managing the volume of shortcuts long term. You may opt to remove shortcuts over 2 years old for example. This will have a good effect on the number of items that remain in a users mailbox, but remember to re-evaluate and reconsider the age at which you expire items, because even in 2 years power users can get a lot of items in the shortcut-category.
If you don't create shortcuts then you might be upsetting your end-users without really knowing. For example, consider now, without shortcuts, how end users will access archived items, or even how they will know that an item was archived, rather than them either deliberately or accidentally moving it to a different folder, or deleting it. Yes, end users of Windows, on end-user workstations, might get a very good experience when they use something like Virtual Vault with Microsoft Outlook. But consider the variety of other ways that end-users will be accessing their archived data: there might be Outlook Web App users, iPad users, Apple Mac users, and so on.
Without shortcuts these other types of user access can be more 'difficult' and less appealing to end-users.
In short, carefully consider whether you are going to create shortcuts or not. It has a massive impact on your users Enterprise Vault experience, with pro's and con's of creating them or not.
Quotas with subtle anti-ageing
Email administrators that have managed Exchange environments for many years will almost definitely be in favour having mailbox size quotas. There are lots of reasons to have them in place, and much has been written about the benefits of them. Sometimes Enterprise Vault is implemented to help manage the mailboxes of end-users and part of that might be quota management too. Rather than users 'constantly' receiving emails about how they are close to their quota (or exceeeding it already) Enterprise Vault will quietly, each night, in the background, archive items to help keep the mailbox under quota.
In fact in the last few versions of Enterprise Vault it has been possible to mix age, and quota based archiving together, allowing increased flexibility for messaging administrators.
Simply archiving 'big items' though isn't necessarily the answer. There is a subtle additional step in the policy which should be considered. The problem with archiving big items is that they might be quite recent, and, that will probably mean for almost every organisation, that users will want to access that item from iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. If those particular items have been archived, accessing them from those types of devices isn't really a pleasant end-user experience.
You'll get complaints if you just archive all 'large items', and it gives a random sort of feel to the archiving experience, and that too is something that end-users will probably not like. You'll get more complaints!
The solution to this little problem is to enable the setting in the archiving policy whereby no items below a certain age will be archived. Here is a screenshot:
With this enabled it means that yes quota based, and aged based archiving will take place. These will help with the quota management side of things, but, we've also take a big leap on the user experience ladder. We've considered the end-users and decided to help them when it comes to accessing (or not, really) archived items in different mobile devices, and web interfaces (such as Outlook Web App).
Of course the number of days that you set this age to is a little tricky to optimise. Sometimes people go for 1 week, or two, but I think 30 days is a good number. This way people who have been on holiday won't be impacted (compare that with the policy of using 14 days where people might return from holiday and still find lots of things have been archived and are now more tricky to access).
Think about users
When you start to think about end users like this it becomes clear that you can have a good well managed set of policies and keep the end users happy. Involving end-users when possible is something that our PST FlightDeck does in relation to PST migration. You can find out more information about it on our website, but one of the key element to its success is the fact that it involves end-users in the migration process, and communicates with them about what the process involves.