There is no doubt that pre-SP1 archiving had some shortcomings.  There has been a lot of improvements for archiving in SP1 in regards to both administration and user experience that makes Exchange 2010 archiving a very viable option.

Let’s get a few facts about archiving out of the way before diving in:

What is Online Archive?

  • Online Archive is a secondary user mailbox that a user can use to store Exchange data.
  • Used to offload the “live” mailbox data to provide better performance to Outlook
  • Ability to offload “cold” Exchange data to lower tier storage or separate servers to provide better performance to “live” Exchange data
  • Used to manage/organize Exchange data either voluntarily or mandatory
  • Archive mailboxes are online only, they cannot be cached for offline viewing
  • Currently archive mailboxes can only be viewed in Outlook 2010 and OWA 2010.  Outlook 2007 is supposed to be supported with a future hotfix according to a post at the Exchange Team Blog.
  • Methods to get items to the archive mailbox:
    • Manually
    • Inbox rules
    • Retention policies (note that Managed Folders cannot use the “Move to Archive” option)
    • Import messages from a PST
  • Discovery search automatically includes the archive mailbox (if it needs to be excluded, EMS must be used for the search)
  • The Enterprise User CAL is required for any mailboxes that are enabled for archiving

What Online Archive is not?

  • Archiving is not journaling.  If your organization requires preserving email on the transport layer, journaling is still required.
  • Archiving does not provide stubs or shortcuts in the mailbox to the item that has been archived.  The archived email is moved to the archive.

Archive mailboxes can be enabled and managed through the EMC and EMS.  Probably the most publicized feature is that archive mailboxes can be homed on different databases, different servers, or hosted servers.  When enabling a mailbox for archiving, you can select what database to place the archive mailbox (which includes hosting the archive mailbox).


Note that we can select any database on any server:


Also during a new mailbox move request, the administrator has the option to move the primary and/or the archive mailbox.


In the EMC, the icon for an archive enabled user has changed:


The archive mailbox has separate quotas than the primary mailbox.  In pre-SP1, the quota was set to unlimited.  With SP1, the quota is now by default set to 50GB with a warning at 45 GB.


When a mailbox is enabled for archiving, the Default Archive and Retention Policy is applied to the mailbox.


The default policy is shown here:


The Default Archive and Retention Policy includes a Default Tag that will move all items older than 2 years to the Online Archive.  This policy is shows in the following Outlook view:


Note that if another Retention Policy is applied to the mailbox it will replace the Default policy.

Now let’s move onto client connectivity.  When a user is enabled for archiving, the Online Mailbox is automatically added to Outlook and OWA.



Note the options to the default retention policy applied are available to the user:


In a delegate or shared mailbox situation, a user that has Full Mailbox Access rights to another mailbox will automatically have the other mailbox’s archive added to their Outlook view:

Archive-outlook-full access-markup

Exchange 2010 SP1 has closed many of the gaps that were present in pre-SP1.  I hope this post has shed some light on those.