I would second Mary's observations. The local use of PST files as an archive
for email is, to me, akin to using the user's desk or file cabinet for
managing paper records: it's marginally better than nothing, short term, but
causes significant problems long term in terms of sorting through the cruft
to get to the records and in managing effectively the disposition of the
records at the end of the lifecycle. For example, if the user really
thrashes their machine, requiring it to be rebuilt or reimaged, everything
stored thereon is lost.

I would submit that the only really effective ways to manage email all
involve removing it from the primary message store, which is not designed
for retrieval, retention, and disposition, as well as from user control via
PST files. In an article I wrote for AIIM E-Doc Magazine
(, I argue primarily
for declaration of email messages as records that are then stored in an
ERMS, so that proper records management principles can be applied. This is
costly, of course, as it presumes the existence of an ERMS in the
organization and requires someone to determine which messages are records
and which are not. But this is really best practice for managing email and
is the approach espoused in the just-released ANSI/ARMA 9-2004, Requirements
for Managing Electronic Messages as

Secondarily I suggest use of an email archival application that can
centralize the management of the messages. It can often be tied into the
ERMS or RMA so as to allow better management. Another approach is to use an
EDMS, which is not as good with email and requires integration for retention
and disposition. But all of these I would argue are more viable in the long
term than either keeping the messages in Exchange or letting users manage
with Outlook.

My .02, and welcoming dissenting comments,

Jesse Wilkins
IMERGE Consulting
(303) 574-1455 office
(303) 484-4142 fax
[log in to unmask]

>From: "Hilliard, Mary" <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: E-mail management- best practices
>Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 13:06:05 -0600
>Annemarie Toth-Waddell asked -
>"Lastly, I know staff are interested in archiving their e-mail.  Does
>anyone have any tips on how this can best be done using MS Outlook?
>When you choose to auto archive, I believe the archive ends up on your
>c: drive which isn't a safe place to store files.  I'm concerned though
>that if we tell staff to archive to a network server, we will end up
>overloading the servers with useless records."
>I will address the issue of email archiving which I consider to be akin
>to allowing people to store their records haphazardly without
>supervision in the basement.
>We have allowed our users to use the Outlook archive feature and have
>lived to regret it.  A large amount of our network storage is devoted to
>.pst files.  Part of the reason the .pst files are so big is a)
>many/most people do not actively manage their email and operate under
>the theory that they may "need" some of this stuff and never look at it
>again b)when a message is archived, it is saved in a .msg format which
>makes it balloon in size.
>I get a report every day marking the growth of our network storage and
>another related report on large files - and guess what, the large files
>have a high percentage of .psts!!
>Also, when a message is in the Outlook store, it is stored as a "single
>instance" even if several people got the same message (or so my Outlook
>guru tells me).  Once it is archived, the one message may exist multiple
>times in multiple archives - again wasting storage space on possibly
>valueless information.
>We are considering outlawing the use of .pst files unless they ARE on a
>users local drive.  This would be coupled with procedures for making
>sure that RECORDS that are in email are handled appropriately and we
>have not finalized our plan.
>Whew, you turned my switch with your question!!
>Mary Hilliard
>Records Management Officer
>University of Texas System
>List archives at
>Contact [log in to unmask] for assistance

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