Managing Personal Archive in Exchange Server 2010 (Part 1)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:


I’m almost sure that PST management is one of the top three nightmares for any messaging administrator and there are several reasons for that, such as, we cannot control PSTs from a central location, users cannot access data using Outlook Web App or even when they use a different machine and so forth, backup is a headache, and data management with PST all over the place becomes a painful task.

Based on those items the Personal Archive was one of the most anticipated features since the initial beta release of the Exchange Server 2010, as messaging administrator we must be aware that the technical aspect is just one variable of the equation and the personal archive feature must be planned and probably, user training will be required, and a game plan to migrate the current PST information to the new.

In a brief summary the Personal Archive feature can bring some advantages for your organization, such as PST management; users can access their archive content through Outlook Web App; content can be searchable using Discovery  functionality which is also built into the product. A company doesn’t need to use complex software to archive Exchange data. Archive databases can be part of the same High Availability and resilient solution that is being used by regular mailboxes using DAG (Database Availability Groups). The user training requirement is simpler since the Archive will be added to their current environment where they already have the necessary experience to manage their own data.

When planning for Personal Archive the administrator must be aware that Exchange Server 2010 is totally integrated with Microsoft Cloud Services which means that this article content can be applied to your on-premises or cloud services. We are going over how both scenarios can interoperate in an Exchange organization and even though the users won’t even notice if they are on-premises or in the cloud.

How Personal Archive works?

The Personal Archive feature for the end-user is really simple, basically they will have a new mailbox available for them called Personal Archive and that will be accessible on their Outlook Web App, Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007 (it requires the following update).

Outlook 2007 doesn’t provide all functionalities such as: let the users to define personal tags (Archive Policies) and search across both mailboxes (regular and archive).

A mailbox can have only one archive associated to it, and the archive can have different limits than the mailbox. After Exchange Server 2010 SP1 release the archive can be in a different store than the regular mailbox.

As soon as you enable the Personal Archive, the end-user will noticed a new item on either their Outlook or Outlook Web App, as shown in Figure 01. In Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 the limit is 50GB and users will start receiving a warning when the 45GB is reached.

Figure 01

The Personal Archive does not cache information on the client even if the client is using cache mode, if you look at the OST location (Figure 02) you will notice that we have OST just for the mailbox not the personal Archive. That being said we can conclude that Personal Archive only works when the client is connected to the Exchange Server through MAPI (RPC) or Outlook Anywhere. If the user is not connected then the Personal Archive feature won’t be available, just the Mailbox (if the user is using Cache mode).

Figure 02

Planning for Personal Archive…

Exchange Server is all about planning and if you want to take advantage of the Personal Archive feature the disk subsystem must be planned very well to support that feature. The feature by itself is great however, if you don’t have enough disk space or the required performance then you may create some problems by using such feature.

The first step if you haven’t bought hardware for your Exchange is to size properly the mailbox Role and the MSExchange Team provides us with a great spreadsheet where on the file we can use the Personal Archive information to size properly the disk subsystem. Using the spreadsheet we can define up to three tier of storage and on each one we can define the archive information, as shown in Figure 03. Note: The latest Mailbox Server Role Requirements Calculator can be found at

Figure 03

Another design question about Personal Archive is where to place it. Looking at the big picture we have two main options: on-premises and online and let’s talk about each one of these options:

  • On-premises: Here we can have a couple of scenarios: the most simple is having the Mailbox and the Personal Archive on the same database and on the same server; the second one is Mailbox and Personal Archive are on the same server however in different databases, we may have different storage tiers to support the solution; the third one is for bigger companies that decide to have Mailboxes and Personal Archives in different servers and in this scenario different tiers can be associated to each server profile where more performance goes to mailbox and less performance to Archive data.
    If you use on-premises you can take advantage of Database Availability Groups and keep users’ mailboxes and archive using the same high availability solution provided by Exchange Server 2010.
  • Cloud Services: The Personal Archive will be in the cloud and the process is seamlessly to the end-user. Your company can define how many years to keep the data with Microsoft. An entire article about this integration and how it works will be published here at later on, stay tuned.

One last thing about Personal Archive is the client supportability for the Archive feature, where Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 and Outlook Web App are supported, however if you still have Outlook 2003 and older clients or want to access the data using ActiveSync the archive content won’t be available.


In this initial article we went through the planning phase of the Personal Archive feature and how the feature works. In the next article we will be creating a mailbox database and we will start managing personal archive feature on new and existent users.


If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:


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