Tag Archives: Archive

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!

Exchange 2010 Archive Mailbox and Retention Policies – Part 1

Exchange 2010


Part 2 Available Here – http://port25guy.com/2014/10/22/exchange-2010-archive-mailbox-and-retention-policiespart-2/

Also, after Exchange 2010 SP1, archive mailboxes can be placed in a separate database.


**End of Update**

PST’s and Mailbox Limits.  Those two items keep Exchange Administrator’s up at nights.  One of the biggest battles between the end users and the administrator is mailbox size and retention.  It’s pretty well known that the bigger the mailbox get’s, usually the worse the performance gets.  Admins have been trying for years to get users to get their mailbox size down, and users always fight back.  With the dramatic changes that the Exchange Team has made to the Mailbox Store in Exchange 2010, it is now possible to have huge mailboxes’ (10GB+) to support the growing need’s of our end users.

Problem is, we still want to get the best performance possible out of our mailbox’s.  For archive purposes, the only “built in” solution from Microsoft was to export data to PST files.  PST files though are not managed by the organization, are prone to corruption, not accessible through OWA, and are generally messy.  Company’s were forced to move towards 3rd party utilities to satisfy their archiving and compliance needs.

One of the new features in Exchange 2010 is the Archive Mailbox feature.  Simply put, the Archive Mailbox is an extra mailbox assigned to the user, that’s meant to hold older, less accessed data.  For instance a user could place every email older than 1 year in the archive folder, keeping only new constantly accessed data in the primary mailbox.  The Archive Mailbox is integrated into the users Outlook Profile in Outlook 2010:

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As well as Outlook Web App (the new name for Outlook Web Access in Exchange 2010):

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There are some caveat’s to the Archive Mailbox feature:

  1. Only Outlook 2010 supports the integration of the Archive Mailbox in the user profile
  2. The archive mailbox is placed in the SAME database as the primary mailbox

Word on the street is that Microsoft is working on a plug in or an update to Outlook 2007 that will allow the older version of Outlook to access the Archive Mailbox.  Still, many companies have an Office 2003 installation that will be hard to uproot to 2010 for this feature.

The second point I think is the one that really hurts this feature.  The fact that the archive mailbox is part of the same database as the primary mailbox.  I understand that in 2010, the IOPS requirement has been dramatically lowered, and now the organization can run on SATA or Tier-2 disk’s, but many company’s want to segregate their data onto different tier’s and speed of storage.  I think this aspect of the feature will end up hurting Microsoft.  Let’s see if they make a change in the future.

I digress.  The Archive Mailbox is essentially meant to replace the use of PST’s.  The best part is you can drag data from existing PST’s into the archive, just like you can drag messages from your inbox to the archive.  But the real power is setting this up to be done with policy’s, called Retention Policy’s.

As administrator’s, we can control the length of time that users are allowed to keep items in their primary mailbox.  This is an extension of the Management Folder’s feature from Exchange 2007.  In 2007 however, users had to place email’s in certain folder’s, be it inbox, or a created folder, so that the policy’s were enacted properly.  2010 uses the concept of Retention Policy’s as well as Retention Policy Tag’s to enforce these settings.

Retention Policy Tag’s are classification’s that are set for a folder or a type of item.  For instance you can create a Retention Policy Tag for the inbox, and set it to archive anything over 90 days.  You could also set a Retention Policy Tag for any calendar item over 180 days to delete and not archive.

You would then group this tag’s into a Retention Policy, which would then be applied to a mailbox.

By default, Exchange 2010 comes with two retention policy’s, Default Archive Policy, and Arbitration.

The Default Archive Policy comes with predefined tags:

  1. Personal never move to archive
  2. Personal 1 year move to archive
  3. Personal 5 year move to archive
  4. Default 2 year move to archive

You can check these settings by entering the following powershell command:

Get-RetentionPolicy *default* | fl

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Every mailbox that is archive enabled is automatically assigned the default retention policy.  You can determine the retention policy by running the command Get-Mailbox jsmith | select Name,RetentionPolicy:

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So according to the Default Archive Policy, the user can tag items as one of the three personal setting’s, and then have it moved to archive after the specified time, and anything not tagged will be moved to the archive after 2 years.  Retention Policy’s base the time or age of the message on when the item was delivered, or if the item wasn’t delivered (such as calendar item or post), when the item was created.

The Arbitration Retention Policy is used for moderated mailboxes.  Moderated mailboxes are used for users who mail must pass through a manager for approval first, or for group membership approval.  This policy should only be used in conjunction with these type of mailboxes.

Next, we’ll create a user and assign him an Archive Mailbox

Creating the user is straightforward and exactly the same as normally creating a mailbox, except for one thing.  Towards the end of the mailbox creation period, you’ll be prompted with this screen:

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You can create an archive mailbox at the mailbox creation time, or after the mailbox is created by right clicking the user and selecting

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One thing to keep in mind is you cannot mix Retention Policy’s and Managed Folder Mailbox Policy’s.

Notice how the icon changes for Archive Enabled mailbox’s:

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If we navigate to the each user in ADSIEDIT, you’ll see some other difference’s in available attributes.  The three in particular are msExchArchiveGuid, msexchArchiveName, and msExchMailboxtemplateLink.

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Notice how the user on the right the value’s are blank, and how they are populated on the John Smith user on the left.  Also, notice the msEchMailboxTemplateLink value.  This is the retention policy applied to this particular user.

In this first part, we discussed the new Online Archive Mailbox feature of Exchange 2010, its concept and purpose, and then discussed how administrator’s can apply them using Retention Policy’s.  In part two of this article.  We’ll get in and get our hands dirty, and start applying policies, and seeing how Exchange manages and move’s item’s accordingly.