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4 Essential PST Backup Considerations

No IT manager should underestimate the importance of PST backup.

Although the Auto Archive features of Microsoft Outlook help to keep Exchange mailbox sizes under control, they create a technical challenge, as PST files containing crucial data can end up scattered all over the network. Here are four essential considerations for IT staff planning a PST backup process.

1. Control the Auto Archive Configuration

It is possible to centrally manage Outlook’s Auto Archive settings using Windows Group Policy. IT staff should make use of this facility to control where PST files are located on the network, and lock-down the level of control individual users have over the Auto Archive settings.

2. Monitor Use of PST Files

Ideally, Auto Archive should be tightly configured at an early stage in the roll-out of any network, otherwise IT staff are likely to find PST files scattered across various network shares and local drives. If it is suspected that PST files have already been created in locations not allowed for in a PST backup strategy, the IT team must manually check Outlook client configurations across the infrastructure.

3. Consider Limitations

The popular strategy of locating archive PST files on network shares can have a negative impact on overall network performance, and is not recommended by Microsoft. In addition, it is far from ideal for remote users, who lose access to their archive when not connected to the network. Network administrators must carefully consider where to make compromises when devising their PST backup strategy.

4. Educate Users

Staff should be trained on the use of Outlook Auto Archive and be informed of the PST backup strategy. Ideally, group policy should be used to control the archive configuration and prevent changes being made to it. If Outlook prompts non-technical users with default “Do you want to auto archive now?” messages, it is unfair to blame them for causing an archive to be stored in a location that is not included in the PST backup plan.

Users also need to be aware than if Outlook is left running during a backup, their PST file(s) will be locked and, in many cases, unable to be backed up.

These considerations highlight the fact that unless the IT team takes a hard-line approach to where PST files can be saved, then their strategy runs the risk of failure if users are allowed to managed the PSTs themselves.

An alternative is the implementation of a dedicated solution to manage Exchange archival, which provides companies with a way to abandon the use of PST files, and instead store archived email messages in a centralized area.

As well as eliminating individual PST backup requirements and making the archive as easy to protect as the main Exchange database, an archival solution helps companies to move away from some of the inherent disadvantages of PSTs, such as access to them from remote locations and central search for important historical information.

This guest post was provided by Ben Taylor on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Read more on PST backup.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

2 Responses to “4 Essential PST Backup Considerations”

  1. Paul Says:

    I was wondering what yo think about the hosted PST manager offered by cloud exchange server providers? How reliable do you think is it? Thanks for the article by the way. Great stuff

  2. Manohar Says:

    Greeting Raul,

    Could you please “is there any Powershell script for getting report mailbox users access audit report ( like sendas,accessing the common mailbox,) instead of accessing Exchange 2010 ECP.

    Please Suggest.

    Thanks and Regards
    Manohar.K

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