Thursday, 05 January 2012 09:46

3 Reasons Why You Need Email Archiving

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If there’s one thing an Exchange admin is used to doing, it’s monitoring disk utilization on their mailbox servers. Users hoard email like gold, and as mailbox databases increase in size, backups take longer, restores can exceed recovery time objectives (RTO), and servers can run out of disk space. Admins might look to quotas to reign in runaway mailbox sizes, but those that implement quotas soon find that all this does is force users to move email to PST files, which brings a whole new crop of problems. Performance problems, corrupt files, and data loss all pop up, all that email is still consuming disk space; they’ve simply shifted the load from the mailbox servers to the fileservers. Fortunately, there’s a better answer to the problem of email storage. Email archiving can solve all of these issues without introducing any of the problems associated with other ways to manage email storage. By bolting on email archiving to an existing Exchange infrastructure, users can continue hoarding email, database sizes can remain manageable, and admins can focus on more important issues. Let’s look at three of the best reasons why you need email archiving.

1. Unlimited mailbox sizes

We may as well get the users’ concerns out of the way first, as they are the most direct cause of problems associated with all that email. Email archiving provides users with another place to store all the email they want to keep. This other place is simply made up of less expensive disk space than what your Exchange mailbox servers use. It remains available to your users in Outlook. It can be searched. Users can move email into and out of the archive manually or using rules. You can set up automatic archiving that moves mail based on subject, date, etc., to the archive. The email remains available to the user. This is not the same as archiving email in a PST. Email archiving is server side technology and has none of the problems of PSTs. There’s no risk of data loss that comes with storing PSTs on the local hard disk; there’s no performance hit or data corruption risks from storing PSTs on network shares either. This is a 100% server-based, centrally managed solution.

 2. Mailbox database RTO maintained

A big challenge for Exchange admins is making sure that mailbox databases can be backed up and restored within allocated time. DAGs (Database Availability Groups) can help maintain availability in the event of a failure, but they do nothing to recover from things like user deletions so you must still back up, and be able to restore a mailbox within set times. By using email archiving to move older email to an archive, you can keep your mailbox databases fit and small enough so that you can do daily fulls instead of having to work with a mix of full and incremental or differential backups. Email archiving makes your backup jobs become that much easier, faster to complete, and if you have to do a restore, it’s a one tape job.

 3. More databases per server

When databases are kept smaller, you can serve more from the same mailbox server. That means you can perform more precise and selective backup/restores, perhaps even implement DAGs on lesser hardware, and won’t have to spend nearly as much time moving mailboxes from one database to another as you try to balance out the heaviest users. Email archiving gives you the ability to keep everyone on an equal footing as far as their Exchange mailbox size is concerned without resorting to quotas that lead to PSTs. Moving older email to the archive automatically keeps that mailbox size in check while still keeping the email accessible to the user in Outlook. No user action required!

Email archiving offers a lot of other advantages to Exchange admins. Central searching makes audit, compliance, and discovery operations easy tasks to complete. Doing away with PST files solves headaches for everyone, and having another way to get at email when Exchange is down for maintenance are just a few. For those of you with disk space woes, the top three listed above are huge benefits that you will appreciate immediately after implementing email archiving.

This guest post was provided by Casper Manes on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Learn more about email archiving.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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