Tip

Optimizing Exchange Server archiving for email attachments

Many enterprise-level Exchange Server setups use -- or are currently evaluating -- a third-party email archiving systems for compliance with regulatory standards.

One thing that has become increasingly important is having an email archiving solution that can optimize for message attachments. For example, if you have an attachment that's emailed to 50 people in your organization, a "dumb" email archiving solution will archive the same attachment 50 times.

This is a waste of space -- and even though space is theoretically dirt cheap, it's not cheap enough that you can afford to take a cavalier attitude toward it.

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If you're considering an Exchange Server email archiving solution, there are a number of them that deal with attachments intelligently -- but they implement it in different ways. You'll need to look at the volume of email and attachments in your network, and what they're composed of, to figure out what you need.

One of the simpler systems for dealing with attachments is C2C's MaX Compression, an add-on for Exchange Server that compresses and decompresses email attachments on-demand, as they are requested, out of the Microsoft Exchange store.

This approach works best if your users are not already doing this habitually (there's no point in compressing an already-compressed archive). Also, it is only practical for items that are being kept online in Exchange Server, rather than those rotated out to an offline archive.

However, C2C's Archive One product uses the same on-the-fly compression combined with a multiple-database archiving engine for efficiency with high volumes of data. In the same compress-as-you-go vein, GFI MailArchiver, uses a SQL Server database to store the message data -- a nice way to make use of SQL Server as part of your Exchange Server archiving setup.

Another attachment-archiving method involves removing attachments entirely, analyzing them for redundancies across the whole enterprise, and then archiving only single copies or differential copies.

One program that uses this technique is ZANTAZ First Archive, which employs the same tactics for both messages and email attachments, along with metadata for each. Quest Software's Archive Manager has the same "single-instance storage" function for attachments and message data alike.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.

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Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Article: Email archiving -- what's right for your enterprise?
  • Tip: How to evaluate Exchange Server archiving products
  • Tip: Email archiving software shopping tips
  • Learning Center: Exchange Server archiving essentials
  • Reference Center: Exchange Server archiving tips and resources

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    This was first published in July 2006

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