Exchange 2010 Archive Mailbox and Retention Policies–Part 2

DAG, Exchange 2010

We’ll really long time in the making, but one of my most popular articles.  With 2013 out there, I figured I would finish this off, and then add a part 3 that shows a quick rundown of how to do the same thing with 2010. 

So, we have our Archive Mailbox created.  Now, we want to assign a policy so that we perform some automated action, and give users the ability to also make some changes.  There are a ton of posts out there over the mechanics of how the Exchange Archive system works.  I wont revisit it.  Ill try to do so with a more real world example.  So for this example, we want to assign our users with a policy that performs the following:


  1. Users should have the ability to tag emails to move to archive ASAP
  2. Users should have the ability to tag emails to move to archive if they are older than 30 days
  3. Users should have the ability to tag emails to be deleted older than one week
  4. Users should have the ability to mark emails to never be archived
  5. All Emails in the sent items are deleted after 30 days
  6. All Emails older than 90 days are automatically moved to archive if another policy doesn’t apply

It should be noted, that the delete actions and never delete actions work on any mailbox, and the Archive options require an archive mailbox to be enabled for the user.  If an archive mailbox is not enabled, the archive policies have no effect.

Now, if you look at the above, a common question that pops up is around the Never Archive option.  If they have this ability, won’t they be able to completely override the archive setup and store everything in their mailbox?  The answer is technically yes, but if you combine your archive mailbox’s with mailbox limit’s, then the user will hit a point where they can no longer send and/or receive messages, and are forced to archive messages. 

So, next we need to create the Archive Policy and the Archive Tag’s.  Real quick, each email or folder can only have one “tag” assigned to them.  Email’s and folders inherit their parent folder’s tag, but it can be overridden.  The process that handles processing the tags on items is the Managed Folder Assistant. The Assistant checks each item for tags.  If the item doesn’t have a tag explicitly set on it, then the assistant check’s the parent folder for the appropriate tag.  Once it finds a tag, it takes that action on it according to that tag.  So, lets create the needed tag’s for our example above.  Navigate to Organization Configuration->Mailbox->Retention Policy Tags.  Click New Retention Policy Tag and you’ll be presented with the following screen:


So, let’s create the first tag of move items to archive ASAP.  Since there is no ASAP, we will set the Age Limit to 1 day, and change the action to be Move to Archive. The next thing to change is the Tag Type.  If you are giving the users the options to set the tag themselves, it should always be a Personal Tag.  The other tag’s are scoped to a specific folder type.  We will cover this later.  So our configuration looks like the following:


Create the rest of the tags, which should be the same settings, just a different name and age limit.  The only one that is different is the Never Archive.  Here is the config for that:



This will set to tag to never take action. 

So, next are the specific folder actions.  The Sent Items, delete after 30 days for example.  The different here, is that we change the Tag Type to be Sent Items



And for the last step, which is the if another policy doesn’t apply and the emails older than ninety days, move it to archive:


Here, we change the Tag Type to All Other Folders in the Mailbox.

Something to note, there can only ever be 1 specific folder tag’s within a particular policy.  In the next step, we will create our policy and assign it to the users.  We can only include one tag per specific folder.  Meaning if we had two tags that targeted sent items, we cannot include them in the same policy.

So, lets create the policy.  Navigate to Organization Configuration –> Mailbox –> Retention Policies

Create a New Retention Policy, and give it a descriptive name.  Add the tags we just created:


On the next screen, you can select mailbox’s to assign this policy to:


Then create the policy.

We can also assign a policy specifically to a user by going to the Mailbox –> Properties->Mailbox Settings->Message Records Management, and selecting and applying a Retention Policy:


So then you can wait for the Exchange Server to apply the policies.  Remember, Exchange 2010 does it on a work cycle base.  This means Exchange is told to complete a the task of tagging and moving to archive at least x times in y days.  You can check your server by running the command:

Get-MailboxServer –Identity SERVERNAME | Select *ManagedFolderWork*


This should get you a completed run, at least once per day.  You can also run it manually yourself against the mailbox by running the command Start-ManagedFolder usersaccount:


Note, that it can take more than one run for this to work, as it needs to go through first, tag the items, and then the second run will take action on those items.  Now lets look at what the client sees.  Keep in mind you can see it both from Outlook 2010 and later and OWA:

In Outlook, if the user right clicks on a folder and goes to the policy tab.  Here the user will see two drop downs, one for Retention and one for Online Archive:


The default policies for say sent items and all items move to archive over ninety days, the user will never see.  They will only see Personal Tags.  So let’s say I want to set this folder to Never Archive


I change the Online Archive policy to Never.  If I want the policy to delete everything in the folder and subfolders after one week, I change the Retention Policy to be One Week Delete:


Look for my Exchange 2013 one, hopefully in a shorter time frame than it took for Part 2!


  1. Pingback: Exchange 2010 Archive Mailbox and Retention Policies – Part 1 | Exchange for the Working Man

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