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06/08/2012

4 ways to save money preserving Leavers' mailboxes

Leavers_smallAndy Knight, Essential

With nearly every migration workshop I attend now the same question comes up: “What do I do about my leavers”?

It’s inevitable people will leave your company, but the hard decision for a lot of companies comes when a migration is planned to a new version of Exchange or a new archive solution and whether those 'dead' archives/mailboxes should be moved.

For some it's a 'no brainer' - if there's a compliance need then all data needs to be retained but for others it's a 'nice to have', the problem comes then with cost: paying for a mailbox/archive licence in the new environment for staff that left a long time ago can be hard to swallow as most migrations are there to save money and improve working practices.  Over the years the number of leavers mailboxes you need to maintain can mount up too.

So what can you do? If you’re lucky enough the target archive won't charge you for inactive mailboxes.  However where there are licence costs associated with these mailboxes/archives (such as with Office 365 and Exchange 2010 personal archives) you may want to look at alternatives.  Here are just a few ideas:

1. Export 'dead' mailboxes into PST files and back them up.  A downside of this approach is that PST files bring the risk of corruption and they're not easy to search should you need to, although this is a neat tool to help with this process.

2. Consolidate leaver’s mailboxes into one or more 'group mailboxes' in your target system, and give 'departmental heads' access rights.  This adds complexity to the migration process and could result in very large mailboxes.  You also have to think about how easy it will be to grant access to the various folders. 

3. Keep your old archive with leaver's data only.  This is a slightly unusual approach as it means keeping on your legacy archive, but it will be more secure and accessible than using PSTs.

4. Export data to folders in a file share in .eml format.  You can use Windows access rights to give only the relevant staff access and deploy standard search tools to find information as and when required.

There are many different approaches and I have seen them all used - in some cases all by the same company.   There are also other considerations to throw into the mix, such as excluding migration of \personal folders. What have you done with your leavers?  The best ideas will receive an Essential mug and our dunking expert's biscuits of the month.

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