Saturday, 20 November 2010

Message Retention Compliance in Exchange 2010

Keeping particularly important emails in a users mailbox over a long period of time chews into available disk space. One common option is to transfer these emails to a PST file either on the users machine or a network share. Doing this will save space on the mailbox server but will most likely cause problems when you try to collect the data again. You have to search for the PST files, hope they are not password protected and after that search through the files themselves looking for the emails you want to restore.

There are two methods of managing retention compliance in Exchange 2010:
  1. Use 'Managed Folders' as used in Exchange 2007
  2. Use 'Retention Tags' a new approach used only in Exchange 2010

Using Managed Folders

Managed folders involves the user deliberately dragging their important emails into administrator built folders which are visible in Outlook. The point to take home here is that the user has to do some dragging action! A lot of people simply can't be bothered to file emails into folders and prefer to search through their mail looking for key words.This is where retention tags can be used. We will talk about that later.

There are 4 main steps to managed folder configuration:
  1. Create managed folders
  2. Set managed content settings
  3. Create managed folder policies
  4. Apply the managed folder policy to the mailbox
  5. Schedule the messaging records management enforcement process
1. Create the Managed Folder

Managed folders come in two flavours. Default and custom. The default managed folders include the familiar folders like 'Inbox' and 'Sent Items'. You can create a custom managed folder that appears under the folder 'Managed Folder'.

1. Open the EMC and browse to the Organization Configuration Mailbox node in the Console tree.

2. In the Actions pane, click the New Managed Custom Folder task to launch the configuration wizard.

3. Enter the name of the folder in the Name field. The field below it can be used to define a different name when the folder is viewed in Outlook. By default, this field is set to the same value that you type in the Name field. You can define a storage quota in KB and also set a comment for this folder that the user sees when the folder is opened. Enter this comment in the field Display The Following Comment When The Folder Is Viewed In Outlook. If you check the box Do Not Allow Users To Minimize This Comment In Outlook, then the comment is always visible to the user.

You can do the same in the shell:

[PS] New-ManagedFolder -Name 'Test Folder' -StorageQuota '51 MB' -Comment 'This folder is used only testing' -MustDisplayCommentEnabled $true 

2. Set Managed Content Settings

In this step you define how long items stay in a folder before an action is performed. You can also choose to forward a copy of any message placed in the folder to another mailbox (journaling).

1. Right click the Custom Managed Folder created in step one. This will launch the following window:

2. In the New Managed Content Settings wizard, type a name for content settings, such as Delete After 12 Months.

3. From the Message Type drop-down list, select the type of content that you want this setting to  apply to. For example, you can apply the setting to specific items such as email only. Or you can apply the setting to every item type by choosing All Mailbox Content.

4. Check the Length Of Retention Period (Days) box and type the number of days that you want the items to be retained before an action is taken on them.

5. In the Retention Period Starts box, you can choose when the retention period starts. It can start either when the item is delivered or when it is moved into the folder. For example, if you want to create a setting to delete items after one year, you could set the retention period for 365 days.

6. In the field Action To Take At The End Of The Retention Period, choose what happens to the item when the period is over. If you choose to move it to a managed folder, click the Browse button to select that folder. Then click next.

7. At the Journaling screen, you can choose to forward copies of the message to a mailbox when it’s placed in the folder. Check the Forward Copies To option and click the Browse button to select the mailbox. You can also define a label for the message in the field Assign The Following Label To The Copy Of The Message. Doing so can make the messages easier to sort through. Click Next to continue.

The settings for the managed folder are now configured and the folder is ready to be added to a managed folder policy.

3. Create Managed Folder Policy

A managed folder policy will be used to link the created managed folder to your mailboxes.

1. Open the EMC and browse to the Organization Configuration Mailbox node in the Console tree

2. Select the New Managed Folder Mailbox Policy task in the Actions pane.

3. In the New Managed Folder Mailbox Policy wizard, enter a name for this policy in the field
Managed Folder Mailbox Policy Name.

4. Click the Add button to add a managed folder to this policy. The Select Managed Folder dialog box will be displayed. Select either a managed default folder or a managed custom folder and click OK.

4. Apply the Managed Folder Policy to Mailboxes

1. Browse to the Recipient Configuration Mailbox node in the Console tree.

2. From the list of mailboxes displayed in the Results pane, select one or more mailboxes that you want to apply the policy to.

3. Click the Properties option for the selected mailboxes in the Actions pane.

4. In the properties dialog box, select the Mailbox Settings tab.

5. Select the Messaging Records Management option in the list of mailbox settings and click the Properties button above the list.

6. In the Messaging Records Management dialog box, select the Managed Folder Mailbox Policy check box. Click the Browse button to select the policy that you just created.

7. click OK to close the Messaging Records Management dialog box.

5. Schedule the Messaging Records Management Enforcement Process

The final thing we need to do is to schedule the messaging records management enforcement process to run at a specified time. The messaging records management enforcement process is disabled by
default. This means that although you have applied a managed folder mailbox policy to one or more recipients, the respective managed folders will not show up in the user’s client (Outlook 2007 or OWA 2007) until the process has run at least one time.

  1. In the Exchange Management Console, click the Mailbox subnode under the Server Configuration work center node.
  2. Select the respective Mailbox server in the Result pane.
  3. Now click the Properties link under the mailbox server name in the Action pane.
  4. Click the Messaging Records Management tab.
  5. The Messaging Records Management Enforcement Process is set to Never Run. Change that to Use Custom Schedule, then click the Customize button
  6. In the schedule, specify the times and days when the managed folder assistant
    should run.
If you want to force a newly created managed folder to appear in the mailboxes, before the schedule runs you can use the Start-ManagedFolderAssistant CMDlet in the EMS to process all mailboxes immediately. This can be a resource-intensive process for the mailbox server and the network in general so be careful!

Retension Tags
Retension Tags are new to Exchange 2010! As mentioned above, managed folders require users to move mail into folders that the Exchange administrator has created. With retension tags users apply retension settings directly to mail in the their inbox. Users can also create their own folders and apply retension settings to these folders much like the administrator.

The process of creating and using retension tags is similar to using managed folders:
  1. Create the retension tags
  2. Link retension tags to retention policies
  3. Apply the retension policies to mailboxes

Create Retension Tags

Using these parameters, you can create meaningful retention tags for your content. The following example creates a tag that archives every message after 1 years (365 days). Achives will be mentioned later.

[PS] New-RetentionPolicyTag “RPT-ArchiveAfter1Year1” -Type All -MessageClass E‑mail -AgeLimitForRetention 365 -RetentionAction MoveToArchive -RetentionEnabled $True

Link Retention Tags to Retention Policies

Now that you have a retention tag created, you need to create a retention policy to link the tag to. The following retension policy (called RP Staff) is created and linked to the tag created above.

[PS] New-RetentionPolicy “RP Staff” -RetentionPolicyTagLinks “RPT-ArchiveAfter1Year”

If a retension tags ALREADY exists, you use the set-retensionpolicy cmdlet:

[PS] Set-RetentionPolicy "RP Staff" -RetentionPolicyTagLinks "RPTag ArchiveAfter1Year"

Apply Retention Policies to Mailboxes
After the retention policy is created and retention tags are linked to it, you can apply the policy to mailboxes. To do this, use the Set-Mailbox cmdlet with the RetentionPolicy parameter

[PS] Set-Mailbox “Paul Pidgeon“ -RetentionPolicy "RP Staff"

When you apply the above cmdlet, you will be asked to confirm that clients are using the right version of Outlook. Outlook 2007 or earlier dont have all client features enabled.

If a user is away for extended period of time she may not get to see email messages that are moved or deleted during that time. You can put the mailbox on hold (suspend the policy) by putting the mailbox on retention hold.

[PS] Set-Mailbox “Paul Pidgeon” -RetentionHoldEnabled $true

You can then take the mailbox out of retention hold by the following cmdlet:

[PS] Set-Mailbox "Paul Pidgeon" -RetentionHoldEnabled $False

If your users are using Outlook 2010 you can move away from using managed folders and start using retention tags. You can convert your existing managed folders into retention tags by using an existing managed folder as a template. The following example creates a new retention tag that mirrors an existing managed folder:

[PS] New-RetentionPolicyTag "RPT One" -ManagedFolderToUpgrade "MF One"

Archiving Email

Exchange 2010 gives users the ability to archive email in an online archive and avoid using PST files. Users can drag and drop email from their mailbox or from existing PSTs into their online archive, which has a bigger storage quota than the mailbox. Unlike PST files, the archive is accessible in Outlook Web Access as well as locally in Outlook 2010. Large amounts of data can reside in an archive folder because the archive is only available online. Users do not need to download many gigabytes of data into their Outlook client when working in cached mode with the online archive.

An archive for a user can be created when you create the mailbox or after the mailbox has been created. To create an archive when creating the mailbox use the following cmdlet:

[PS] New-Mailbox “Clint Eastwood” -UserPrincipalName -Archive

Archive mailboxes have size quotas applied to them like regular mailboxes but they don't restrict the users ability to send and receive mail if the quota is reached. There is a warning quota and a hard quota. When an archive reaches the warning quota, an event is logged in the server’s Application event
log. When the hard quota is reached, items can no longer be placed in the archive. You can modify the warning quota in the EMC or the EMS, but the hard quota must be modified in the EMS.

[PS] Set-Mailbox “Andrew Stevens” -ArchiveWarningQuota 20GB –ArchiveQuota 25GB

You can get useful information on your archives by typing the following:

[PS] Get-Mailbox | ft name,archive*


  1. Quite informative post ! I have lot of important mails in my mail box and it is about to full. Andrew Stevens, I want to transfer these emails in PST files as said. Can you please help me in doing this. As this is first time I will do. In fact, I also don't the exact steps for it. Please help me.

  2. Sorry for the delay...could you tell me what version of exchange you have and any other details..