Exchange users and administrators alike are well acquainted with the use of Personal Storage Tables (PSTs), which were designed originally to be an easy way to organize, store, and archive emails. The PST files themselves can be stored either locally or on the server.
It is common for a company to set up PST files so that they are both stored and managed on each user’s PC locally. This local approach gives each user the advantage of immediate access to their older emails, as well as the ability to manage those emails directly. However, this is a downside at the same time. Expecting each user to manage their own archiving process is, as most IT managers will advise, a disaster waiting to happen. This approach takes away from each end-user’s productivity by forcing them to spend time archiving their own emails. In fact, many end-users will ignore it altogether.
And the biggest downside of course, is in the area of disaster preparedness. Storing archives, email or otherwise, on local PCs is poor policy. If you use PST files at all, they should be stored on the Exchange server (and on a redundant off-site storage facility as well), and not on each local PC.
The issue of compliance may also be relevant. There may for example, be a requirement that emails be saved for a specific period of time, and further, that privacy be maintained. Locally-stored PST files would likely violate those requirements. Furthermore, if PST files are stored locally on multiple PCs scattered throughout the enterprise, centralized searching and e-discovery becomes impossible. These compliance issues, as well as internal policy issues, call for a greater level of centralized access as well as searchability. PST files provide for neither.
Storing PST files locally will obviously overload the local machines; and as the data gets get bulkier, finding an old email will become more difficult. Even offloading the PST files onto the Exchange server will not completely solve the problem; as the overloading will simply shift from the local PCs to the server.
The more appropriate strategy is to move older emails to a central archival store (with redundant off-site storage), to reduce the dependence on PST files and allow for easier and faster retrieval.
It is however, simple enough to replace the use of PST files with a third-party archiving solution that integrates with Exchange. When searching for such a third-party solution, it is advised to find one that provides for several elements, including:
- Easy search facilities that accommodate search by keyword, sender, or recipient; and search the content as well as the header of archived emails.
- Centralized archiving procedures that relieve end-users from the burden of archiving their own emails. The administrator should be able to set rules; for example, emails will be moved to archives after a certain designated period of time.
- The third-party solution should be compliant with various legislation relating to security and privacy, such as HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley.
As your organization conntinues to grow, and the size/frequency of email continues to expand, it may be a good idea to look into alternative email management systems in anticipation of your future needs.
About The Author
Storagepipe Solutions is a leading Canadian Provider of hosted Online Backup, Server Backup, and Email Archiving solutions. If you have any insights to share into Canadian enterprise data management, please feel free to join this group and contribute your own articles. We welcome all newcomers looking to contribute.