The problems with PST files

Most companies cannot give users unlimited email storage on their Exchange server (although many users will attempt to test this reality). To control the amount of data begin stored, administrators implement quotas on mailboxes. When users reach their quota, they have two options: They can delete some email (yeah, right), or move it off the Exchange server.

Outlook uses PST files to store email outside of an Exchange system. The program prompts users to auto-archive old email to PST files by default, but users can also manually create them. While this sounds like a simple fix, most IT support will tell you that PST files are a pain in the neck to manage and in some cases create more problems than they solve.

To make matters worse, desktops and laptops are not always protected by a backup process. For this reason, users are taught to put documents and files they want backed up in their “home” folder on a network file server, which, in theory, is backed up regularly. As a result, users often put their PST files in their home folder and open them in Outlook to use.

Server administrators (or backup administrators) are responsible for backing up these file servers. There are two types of backups: full backups, during which all files are backed up, and incremental backups for files that have changed since the last full backup. Continue Reading…

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Email archiving: Solving the problem of digital data hoarders

Email-archivingWe all know how important email is to business. But I sometimes wonder if we’re becoming too obsessed with our email, to the point where we can’t let go of a single message for fear of losing a file or piece of correspondence. Unfortunately, all that worrying is having a negative effect on business — forcing organizations to invest in unnecessary amounts of storage and backup space.

Consider this real-world scenario. In my past life as an Exchange administrator, I found that my organization’s Exchange server was running low on disk space. After running some reports, I made a surprising discovery: 65 percent of all the email in our system was in the deleted items folders of user mailboxes! In addition, most of that email was more than a year old.

Excited that I was able to solve a problem without needing funding to purchase new storage for our Exchange server, I shared the good news with my boss. I told him we didn’t need to spend the $6,000 on new storage. I could simply create a policy to purge the email in the deleted items folder that was more than a year old. With that, I sat back in anticipation of the kudos that was certainly on the way.

Much to my surprise, he answered, “What if people need that email later on? I go back and get stuff out of the deleted items folder all the time.” So the decision was made to keep the old email and add new storage to the Exchange server.

However, this eventually led to another problem: The size of our email data had grown so large that it was taking too long to finish our daily backups. We couldn’t get them done in the off-hours. But the problems didn’t end there; our Exchange admins were facing a number of issues: Continue Reading…

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