Applies to: Exchange Server 2007 SP3, Exchange Server
2007 SP2, Exchange Server 2007 SP1
Topic Last Modified: 2007-09-27
This topic provides guidance for the messaging records management (MRM) planning process, outlining some of the opportunities, best practices, and issues to be considered. Although configuring and managing MRM in Exchange 2007 is technically straightforward, planning for a successful MRM implementation can require time, thought, and input from a variety of business disciplines. In addition to Exchange administrators and the IT department, executives, records managers, human resources personnel, legal advisors, and even end users can play important roles in the planning process.
Where Do I Start?
Before implementing an MRM solution, there are many factors to consider, and not all of them are technical. The following sections describe some of these factors.
To learn about installing, configuring, and maintaining MRM, we recommend that you first set up a test environment (also known as a sandbox installation) . Exchange administrators who are well versed in the details of setting up and configuring MRM in a test environment are in a better position to consult with and make recommendations to other members of the organization about the technical requirements for a successful MRM solution.
Policies and Plans
Another early step we recommend as you implement an MRM solution is to set up a team for the purposes of creating or updating the records management policy of your organization. Among the groups to consider including in the policy creation or review process are:
- Records management professionals
- Legal counsel
- Human resources
- Senior management
- Information technology (IT) management
The team's task is to create a records management policy that is sufficiently broad in scope to address the organization's current and future needs, but also sufficiently clear and detailed to enable the policy to be implemented by an Exchange administrator as an MRM solution. The process of developing this policy can be lengthy. This is because each team member considers, makes suggestions, and revises the work of the others, balancing legal requirements, budget, complexity, and administrative and human considerations to create a policy from which a manageable MRM implementation can be created.
Concerns for the team to consider, especially in organizations that have a well developed e-mail culture, include:
- User concerns and possible resistance to an MRM solution
- How to monitor and enforce the organization's messaging
Keeping Messages Where They Can Be Managed
To manage messages, the managed folder assistant must have access to them. This means that messages must be stored on an Exchange server for effective messaging records management. This has two consequences:
- Users' mailboxes must often be increased in size so that they
can hold more items.
- Access to personal folder (.pst) files on users' computers
should be limited or eliminated.
Increasing Mailbox Size
Keeping all user messages in mailboxes on the server usually means increasing the size of users' mailboxes, possibly to a gigabyte (GB) or more. The increased performance of Exchange 2007 helps to make these larger mailboxes manageable.
Limiting Access to .pst Files
You can start moving users away from using .pst files by creating a group policy that prevents new items from being added to existing .pst files. Making .pst files read-only gives users access to the .pst files they may already have while encouraging them to keep the messages that they want to keep in their Exchange mailboxes. Eventually, you may want to create a group policy to remove access to .pst files altogether.
Limiting access to .pst files can disrupt the work habits of some users, but it also has a number of advantages.
Keeping user messages on the server and limiting access to .pst files can:
- Significantly increase the effectiveness of MRM by keeping
messages where they can be managed and monitored.
- Reduce the risk of losing important data that is stored on
individual hard drives rather than on servers that are backed up
- Help to reduce the loss of the organization's intellectual
property when vendors, interns, and employees leave the
- Improve users' access to their data by keeping everything in
- Make Microsoft Outlook Web Access more effective
because all user messages are available anywhere with only a Web
- Reduce the cost of legal discovery during a lawsuit. The
process of capturing and discovering information that is stored in
.pst files is labor-intensive and expensive because .pst files must
first be located on user computers and then the contents must be
processed by legal personnel.
Create a group policy that sets the following registry subkey to a value of 1. This setting prevents users from adding anything new to .pst files. Users can still create new .pst files but they cannot add anything to them. This setting blocks only Microsoft Outlook .pst files. It allows Microsoft SharePoint .pst files to be connected and updated in a user's Outlook profile. A similar registry key can be used to disable writing to .pst files in Outlook 2003.
Create a group policy that sets the following registry subkeys to a value of 0. These settings disable the AutoArchive menu in Outlook and remove the AutoArchive option, which is shown when the user clicks Tools, clicks Options, and then clicks the Other tab.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Office/12/Outlook/Preferences/ArchiveDelete HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Office/12/Outlook/Preferences/ArchiveMount HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Office/12/Outlook/Preferences/ArchiveOld HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Office/12/Outlook/Preferences/DeleteExpired HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Office/12/Outlook/Preferences/DoAging HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Office/12/Outlook/Preferences/PromptForAging
Create a group policy that sets the following registry subkey to a value of 5575. This setting removes the Outlook Data File option in Outlook, which is shown when the user clicks File, and then points to New.
Starting with a pilot implementation can help you to fine tune your MRM solution and get a sense of end-user satisfaction before an organization-wide implementation. For example, you may discover that users find a six-month retention period for the Inbox too short, and that they are more comfortable with a one-year limit. Or you may discover that additional journaling would result in a need to upgrade your archiving solution.
Members of an MRM planning team may also be good candidates for the first members of an MRM pilot program. Additional members can be recruited from IT personnel and from interested management personnel. When the pilot program is in stable operation, you can recruit additional members of the organization to join. Any user reluctance to adopt managed messaging can sometimes be lessened with the promise of a larger mailbox, automatic e-mail management (including automatic deletion of routine notices and messages that can be placed in a short-retention folder), and training to deal with any questions or concerns.
How Do I Implement MRM?
When it is time to implement your MRM solution in your organization, you may want to consider a phased implementation to allow the people in the organization and your Exchange system to adapt to the changes required.
Human Considerations During an MRM Implementation
Gradually introducing MRM to users gives them time to adapt to necessary changes in their work habits. A workable plan is to:
- Start a pilot program to test and refine the solution.
- Invite additional users to join the pilot program. Larger
mailboxes can be an incentive to join.
- When you are ready to roll out MRM to the entire organization,
start by offering training on MRM and relevant organization
- Increase the size of users' mailboxes.
- Add managed folders to users' mailboxes, but with expiration
turned off. Encourage users to familiarize themselves with MRM and
to sort the contents of their mailboxes into the appropriate
managed folders according to their needs and the organization's
message retention policy.
- Three weeks after users get managed folders, enable MRM and
make .pst files read-only.
- Be ready to provide a high level of support for users at the
start of MRM implementation. (Training in advance of rollout
reduces user questions and concern.)
- Monitor system performance.
- Monitor user compliance.
System Considerations During an MRM Implementation
Your Exchange system must adapt to MRM. The first time the managed folder assistant runs, it typically processes a large number of items. This can be a resource-intensive process for both the Mailbox server and the network. It can also result in Outlook clients consuming large amounts of time and network resources while synchronizing mailbox contents with the server. You should plan carefully to avoid overloading resources. Running the managed folder assistant when the load on the server is light and adding users gradually rather than all at once can help to ensure a smooth transition.
Training and the Human Element
People take their e-mail personally, even when it is not their personal e-mail. If faced with abrupt changes to the organization's messaging policies, users may feel annoyed or confused, especially if the new polices involve automatically deleting messages. Changes to long-established methods (such as never emptying the Inbox or saving everything to .pst files) have the potential to cause significant disruption for some users. To assure that your MRM implementation proceeds with as little disruption as possible, consider the following recommendations.
- Phased implementation
Introduce MRM gradually rather than all at once.
Training users helps to address concerns in advance and makes for a smoother implementation. Some training topics to consider include:
- An introduction to the organization's messaging policies.
- The necessity for MRM in the modern workplace, including an
overview of the potential legal liability that results from a lack
of records management, and how that liability can cost the
organization money and endanger jobs.
- How automatic e-mail deletion can be a timesaver by
automatically deleting outdated content that routinely
- How larger mailbox sizes provide more room for message
- How server-based storage increases mobile access to data.
- How there may be unavoidable changes to the way users perform
certain tasks (for example, not being able to add messages to .pst
files), and the necessity of paying more attention to classifying
and handling messages.
- How MRM helps to conserve the organization's IT resources.
- An introduction to the organization's messaging policies.
- Advance notice
Notify users in advance that changes are coming. Specifically, notify users of the exact dates that MRM will be implemented and remind them about the changes that will occur.
- User support
Excellent user support in the early phases of the implementation can ease the transition to MRM. Issues that arise during the deployment phase are usually less technical than might be expected. Often, the concerns revolve around users asking questions of the "What do I do?" nature. Having a team of people who can answer this type of question will help to manage these concerns.
Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement
The following are some of methods by which users can evade MRM policies:
- Saving messages to .pst files (if .pst files are not disabled
by group policy)
- Forwarding messages to other locations (such as a Microsoft
- Saving messages as files on their computers
- Sending messages to Microsoft OneNote (by using
- Printing messages
- Placing all of their mailbox folders in the managed folder that
has the longest retention setting
Educating users about the messaging policies of your organizationcan help to ensure compliance. However, monitoring may be necessary to ensure that your MRM solution is effective. Enforcement of messaging policies will likely require involvement and guidance from senior management.
Using the Get-MailboxFolderStatistics Cmdlet to Obtain User Compliance Information
You can use the Get-MailboxFolderStatistics cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell to retrieve information about the folders in specified mailboxes. This information includes the number and size of items in the folders, folder names and IDs, and other information. This method can be an effective means of monitoring whether users are out of compliance with messaging policies (such as moving all of their mailbox items to folders with the most permissive retention policies).
In this example, the Get-MailboxFolderStatistics cmdlet is used to monitor the distribution of the contents of user John Peoples' managed folders.
Get-MailboxFolderStatistics -Identity jpeoples -FolderScope ManagedCustomFolder | Format-List
- You can use the -FolderScope parameter to narrow the
range of information returned by the command. In this example, only
statistics about the contents of John's managed folders were
- In this command, the results are piped to the
Format-List command to get more information and in a more
useful format than with the Get-MailboxFolderStatistics
For more information about the Get-MailboxFolderStatistics cmdlet, see Get-MailboxFolderStatistics.
Complying with Legal Discovery Orders
The Export-Mailbox cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell makes it easier to comply with legal discovery orders for mailbox contents by enabling you to copy the contents of specified mailboxes to a folder in another mailbox. For example, you could use the following command to copy the contents of user John Peoples' mailbox to a folder in a specially created mailbox named DiscoveryOrderMailboxes.
Export-Mailbox jpeoples -TargetMailbox DiscoveryOrderMailboxes -TargetFolder mailbox_jpeoples
- The -TargetMailbox parameter specifies the mailbox to
which the contents of John's mailbox are to be copied.
- The -TargetFolder parameter specifies the folder in the
target mailbox to which the contents of John's mailbox are to be
For more information, see Export-Mailbox.
Web Site for Folder Self-Administration by Users
John's organization could also create a Web site where John could add additional managed folders to his mailbox. This self-management option can increase user control and satisfaction while reducing administrator workload. For more information about adding a Web site for user administration of managed folders, see Managed Folder Selector Sample.
For More Information
For more information about MRM, see the following topics:
- For an overview of MRM, see Understanding Messaging
- For a detailed walkthrough about how to set up MRM, see
Messaging Records Management.
- For a guide to MRM terminology, see Messaging Records
To learn more about MRM and how it works, see the following Exchange Server Team Blog articles:
- Records Management: Why Do We Care
- Records Management in Exchange Server 2007 and
Outlook 2007 in 5 Easy Steps