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Shortfalls of Exchange Archiving

The term archive has a technical meaning. It’s a collection of information that is permanently stored and unalterable. Archives are necessary for all businesses (to varying degrees) to comply with regulations and in the case of litigation.

The terms “backup” and “archive” are often confused. A backup is intended to restore the system to a state in time when there is data corruption or loss. As such, backups are overwritten with more recent information as time progresses. Archives, on the other hand, preserve data for longer periods of time and are easily searchable.

Why do you need archiving?

Moving email to archives helps limit the amount of data storage needed for mailboxes. A good archiving solution can also help pinpoint data leaks or even security disasters. But these are side benefits.

Archiving is critical for regulatory compliance and as a repository of information for eDiscovery, a legal requirement in many countries. eDiscovery is the process of finding electronically stored information for use in litigation. It is not restricted to email; for example, Word and Excel files on your file server may also be required during litigation.

Without archives in place, the cost of eDiscovery can be astronomical. Imagine analyzing each computer in your company to find email copied to folders on the hard drive. So the search and organizational aspects of archiving are important. In the Nortel Networks executive criminal case, the prosecution delivered 23 million pages of electronic records. Ontario Superior Court Justice Cary Boswell described this as an “unsearchable morass” and ordered the prosecution to organize the information and re-present it to the defense.

Doesn’t Microsoft Exchange 2010 and 2013 provide archiving?

Microsoft has used the term “archiving” in describing the journaling and Personal Archive functions of Microsoft Exchange since its 2007 version.

With journaling, email copies can be created in Exchange Standard. In addition, with Exchange Premium, these copies can be directed to specific mailboxes or distribution lists. Journaling does not provide an archiving function because:

  • It lacks the indexing and searching capabilities required.
  • Users can still create their own PSTs, copies of email that they keep on their own computer. These copies may or may not satisfy eDiscovery requirements.
  • Journaling has no data retention configuration settings.

Some of the shortcomings of journaling are addressed in the Personal Archive function. Exchange 2010 has more capabilities than Exchange 2007 in this regard; we will look at Exchange 2010.

Each user can establish an “archive” for the mailbox. Microsoft TechNet describes these as “secondary mailboxes in which users can store messages they need to keep for a longer duration.”  Furthermore, “the whole idea behind creating personal archive mailboxes is to avoid the constraints of mailbox quotas”, not to provide an archiving function”.

The Personal Archive need not reside in the same production database; it can even live in the cloud. Users have two options: they can manually move email or let it be moved automatically based on retention tags. The downside of Personal Archive is cost. Using Personal Archive requires enterprise client access licenses (CALs) and Office 2010 Professional Plus for Outlook.

However, Personal Archive “may not meet your archiving needs”. Users have control over their own Personal Archive (probably why it is called personal). They are eminently able to delete items and modify retention tags, making the Personal Archive a questionable repository for compliance and eDiscovery data.

For eDiscovery, Microsoft maintains that users with the Discovery Management role can take advantage of indexing and multiple mailbox searching. However, Exchange 2010's Exchange Control Panel is clunky and difficult to use for eDiscovery.

Improvements in Exchange 2013 and Exchange Online?

With the newer Exchange versions, users still have a large amount of control over their mailboxes. They can define their own policies. Users can also use creative ways to try bypass imposed corporate policies, such as “archiving” items in the Deleted Items folder. True, the Exchange administrator can use Policy Tips to notify users of possible compliance issues with data in their e-mails, but the administrator cannot override user settings unless Litigation Hold or In-Place Hold is applied to a mailbox.

Microsoft Exchange has added features for eDiscovery, requiring a SharePoint 2013-based portal to search across all mailboxes. This approach has two drawbacks:

  • Companies must purchase or upgrade to SharePoint 2013.
  • It necessitates a monolithic mail store with rapidly growing online storage. Data must reside on an online Exchange server to use Exchange’s In-Place Discovery tools.

True archiving reduces storage & recovery time

Don’t be misled. Microsoft Exchange “archiving” is not a complete compliance and litigation tool.

Microsoft’s approach to eDiscovery presupposes that all email that ever passed through your organization resides on an Exchange server. As you can imagine, data storage needs skyrocket over time. Keep in mind that an estimated 90 percent of the information stored in Exchange is never accessed again. True archiving removes a large chunk of this 90 percent, reducing not only storage, but also backup and recovery time.

This is where ArcTitan comes in. ArcTitan is a true archiving solution that can meet your eDiscovery and data storage needs. Here are some of the product features:

  • Unlimited cloud based email archiving including inbound/outbound/internal email, folders, calendar and contacts
  • Data retention and eDiscovery policy
  • HIPAA, SOX (and more) standards compliance and Audited access trail
  • SuperFast Search™ – email compressed, Zipped, message de-duplication, attachment de-duplication allowing for the fastest search and retrieval
  • Web console access with multi-tiered and granular access options; you decide user access permissions.
  • No hardware / software  required
  • Works with All Email Servers including MS Exchange,Zimbra, Notes, SMTP/IMAP/Google/PO
  • Secure transfer from your email server
  • Encrypted storage on AWS cloud
  • Instantly searchable via your browser - find archived emails in seconds
  • Complete Audit trail
  • Optional Active Directory integration for seamless Microsoft Windows authentication
  • Optional Outlook email client plugin
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