In today’s ever-connected cloud world, our communication and collaboration platforms are constantly evolving. While team workspaces and enterprise social platforms are more prevalent than ever, email continues to be the predominant means of business communication.
In many organizations, the demand and usage of email have grown considerably over time. The proliferation of email archives and PSTs is a common occurrence and often stems from the early 2000s when storage was a lot more expensive than it is today. Back then, many organizations had no choice but to implement very small mailbox quotas, often less than 100MB. Personal Storage Table (PST) files can be created in Microsoft Outlook and provide a way for users to archive messages and other email data to their local computer. PSTs are usually a direct result of end users getting around small mailbox quotas and since these files are stored locally on the end users’ computers, they are an information management nightmare. In many instances, the challenge of managing PSTs is further complicated by the existence of one or more data archiving solutions, which were probably intended to ease the burden and replace PSTs.
As more and more organizations look to the cloud for productivity efficiencies and cost reduction, there has never been a better time to address all this archived data and reduce the costs associated with storing it on-premises. Large mailboxes and auto-expanding archives in Office 365 make it the obvious choice for storing this data. In this two-part series, we’ll take a high-level look at the five phases of an archive elimination project.
Eliminating archives and PSTs might seem like a daunting task. Archive solutions by their very nature are designed to securely store data and maintain chain of custody. Therefore, it could be challenging to export archived data, and depending on the archive solution being used, your migration or consolidation options might be limited. There is more to consider when planning your project than simply migrating the data. A typical archive consolidation or elimination project involves the following high-level phases:
Let’s take a closer look at the Restrict phase.
Restricting the creation of new archives is the very important first step of this two-step phase and will allow you to quantify the size of problem with the knowledge that it will not continue to grow. When using an archive solution, it might be as simple as disabling it. For PSTs, this phase should restrict the creation of new files and prevent the addition of new content to existing ones. This can easily be done via Active Directory Group Policy by adding the following registry values to client computers:
The <x>.0 placeholder represents the version of Outlook as follows:
The second step in this phase is to implement a data retention policy if one does not already exist. The goal is to prevent uncontrollable data growth while ensuring compliance with any applicable legislation and regulations. Archive and retention policies in Exchange and Exchange Online are a great way to achieve this goal.
In the second post in this series, we’ll take a closer look at each of the remaining phases and share some tips to help you along the way.
Want to find out more about eliminating your PST problem? Find out more.