Email Archives

Email Archives


Hi, I’m Chris, a Senior Platforms Engineer at a global commercial soap manufacturer and research facilities. I specialize in large scale datacenters, Windows Servers and their roles, Remote Desktop and Published Application Farms, Virtual Infrastructure, Nasuni, and Flat file data storage and migration. Inspired by Chad Baker of LAE software who I had the pleasure of meeting at Microsoft Ignite conference 2023, I’d like to talk about email archiving.

It’s my experience working for manufacturing outfits that in times past disk space was a premium for outlook and email. From the Server Support perspective Microsoft focused more on reliability than sustainability on their servers with DAG’s and whitespace. I believed that email was never intended to replace typical mail and be the sole communication medium for business, it just organically happened.

In more recent times users found they didn’t want to spare the time in keeping the mailbox organized even with the additions of rules and folders in your inbox. Most found that being able to find an old email was as useful as AI chat or a google search is today. With the limited capacities and users not keeping up with email as it grew, folk began to find that a separate file could be created on the local computer or network file share.

Welcome the PST file.

Like outlook and exchange server, this was not a sustainable option. Early versions had a size limitation of around 5GB and all of them had the same whitespace and integrity issues.

It wasn’t long before significant IT support resources were spent, reconstituting these files, (some gigantic) or experiencing issues with them being stored all over the networks.

Today Disk space is not a premium anymore and Microsoft Office 365 has taken email from our datacenters and has been built more robust than it ever was while still providing the same administrative functionality for our exchange admins and more advanced additions mainly around the security of mail. Today we still have legacy PST files across the networks to contend with, causing more issues than they did before, particularly with modern synchronized file systems.

Even though storage is no longer a premium and Microsoft Office 365 is now administering it, they still need to categorize data for the best performance. As Chad from LAE software discussed in a recent Video there are 2 main places to store these files, the optional addition online Archive and the regular/primary inbox.

It’s important to know the features and limitations to both so you can make the best decision for your business.

The user’s regular mailbox, or primary mailbox, is premium responsive storage, in addition the client computer stores an OST file by default, to cache data for faster and offline access to the mailbox, in addition Microsoft employs an indexing feature to this file to allow for near instant searching capabilities. The downside is, the primary mailbox has a limited size, which by default is 50GB. This can be increased by the exchange admin at a premium cost but can assume other issues. The cache/indexing file or OST size is directly proportional and can consume excessive space on the user’s machine. This is particularly bad with Remote desktop session host servers (Formally terminal servers) where users share the same machines or have roaming profiles. Of course, the option to store an OST can be limited or disabled, but seriously degrades Outlook’s functionality and is not recommended.

The Online Archive is Microsoft’s cheaper, low priority tier storage designed for cold data and is “Unlimited” in size. This is likely the best place for PST file data, as it is rarely used, or kept for the sake of keeping. This tier is noticeably slower and searching capability is also limited in performance. This is no different though than traditional record keeping where older files may have been kept in the office basement, archiving warehouse, or even converted to Microfiche.

LAE software seeks to provide email solutions, with PST Migrator tool to effortlessly migrate user PST files in batch with advanced features such as quota protection, user validation, retention tagging and duplicate exclusions. With this software, your project engineer can mass migrate the PST files from your network directly to online archive or a mailbox, freeing up your network effortless and easily. This can save you time, money, support resources and restore functionality to users. LAE offers a selection of additional tools too to help identify users, report and even migration of individual message files (MSG’s).