This article is dedicated to all my friends at work that got panic as result of organizational policy to delete items older than couple of years.
I would like to talk in this article on how to archive our 2-years-old emails when we have Enterprise Vault Outlook Add-in that already archived our 90-days-old emails.
What is Enterprise Vault Outlook Add-in?
I won’t give here the entire story, but just state that it is a tool that allows you to reduce your mailbox size by automatically archiving your emails without moving them to an Outlook archive folder, and while allowing you to fully view the archived emails by just clicking on them.
Below is an example of 2 emails from my mailbox, one was archived by Enterprise Vault (EV) and the other wasn’t. They are both residing at the same mail folder. The archived email age was exceeding the EV policy limit and therefore was archived. The other email is new enough and therefore wasn’t archived by EV.
Below you can see an example of email that was archived by EV. All attachments are removed, the email appears like in plain text format (as opposed to HTML), and the emails text is cut after a few tens of lines.
However, when you open the email (double click it), it automatically restores its original content and format. Since it is so easy to open such emails, the organization policy can be to archive (using EV) emails that are even 3 month old, since those are still easily accessible for the users.
So what’s the problem?
The problem begins when there is another policy in your organization that mandates the deletion of emails older the X years. If you don’t care about such old emails, you can stop reading this post. If you care, then it means you need to move old emails (before they reach the “delete age”) to a personal folder (PST).
Moving EV-archived emails to a PST folder means you have ended up archiving emails that are in a bad format (plain text), partial information (cut in the middle), and without attachments. Plus, those emails can’t be restored (once an email is deleted by organizational policy, it can’t be restored via EV).
I want my emails back. Now. Please.
OK, the solution is pretty easy:
- Select the emails you want to save aside
- Restore them using EV
- Archive them using PST
- You are done
If you need to restore dozens of emails, you cannot do that email-by-email (it will take you forever). The trick is restoring a group of emails:
- Select a group of emails.
- Go to the “Enterprise Vault” tab
- Select Restore
- The email icon will be changed to indicate it is in the process of being restored
- Wait (in my case it took ~30 minutes)
- The emails are restored (the email icon is now as any regular email)
- Archive your restored emails using Outlook personal folder
In case you need a direction on how to create personal folder for archiving your items:
- On the Home tab, in the New group, click “New Items”, point to “More Items”, and then click “Outlook Data File”.
- Select “Outlook data file (.pst)”
- In the “Create or Open Outlook Data File” dialog box, in the File name box, type the name as you want it to appear in the Outlook Navigation Pane, and then click OK.
Will the search engine look into my personal folders?
Yes, no worries.
How can I find all the emails that are older than X years?
You can search them. For example, “received:<2014-06-23”.
A few words of caution
When you are restoring emails, your restored emails would occupy more mailbox space, which means that your free mailbox space would reduce. You need to be careful not to hit your mailbox max size (I’m not sure what would happen at that point – didn’t try it). So if you don’t have much of a free space in your mailbox, I recommend to restore-from-EV and archive-to-PST in cycles of small groups.