The Beast of the Enterprise
As far as e-mail archiving is concerned, Microsoft Exchange is -- about 85 to 90 percent of the time, in fact -- the big beast that enterprises have to deal with. Outlook e-mail is kept in large Exchange .pst files, which are like big balls of yarn that just keep growing -- and taking up valuable storage space.
But Exchange is well known for being complicated and difficult to deal with, largely because the code base has been added to and patched over so many times in the last decade.
A number of companies have sprung up around Exchange -- including such firms as Azaleos and PostPath -- just to make it "so Exchange doesn't suck so badly," PostPath CEO Duncan Greatwood told eWEEK.
PostPath, based in Mountain View, Calif., calls itself the "creator of the only e-mail and collaboration server that is a drop-in alternative to Exchange," on May 5 launched its Server Archive Edition.
"For the first time, simple, inexpensive and efficient e-mail archiving is available to small- and medium-sized businesses [SMBs] that need to retain copies of some or all of their e-mail communications, but don't want to deal with the complexies and expense of Exchange," Greatwood said.
PostPath's secret sauce is called "simple-forward archiving," which creates a simple repository for e-discovery searches, which ends the expense of third-party legal searches in the event of litigation.
PostPath's Server Archive Edition also gives administrators immediate access to every old and current message in the system, enabling on-demand message recovery. Used in tandem, PostPath's Server Archive Edition and its standards-based backup and/or high-availability mechanisms completes customers' messaging data protection strategy.
Now, for some suggestions on how to clean out old and irrelevant files from personal computers before looking at an archive system or service:
As a first step -- if you don't have your own on-site backup system -- you should sign up for an unlimited-capacity online backup service, such as Mozy (Home or Pro), Carbonite, Amazon S3, Iron Mountain or Google's new offing, AppEngine. That way you have a safety net for everything that comes through each computer or server. Costs average about $5 per month/per computer.
Provision at least two full days to allow the backup service to do its job. Once that is done, it's now time for the dirty work: going into the computer or server and finding all the files that shouldn't be there and trashing them. It's pretty simple to find all the MP3 files in a computer, for example, simply by using the computer's own search function. But it's very time-consuming to weed out all the files that shouldn't be there.
Getting a good piece of maintenance software like Webroot's Window Washer is a good idea -- for Windows machines, that is. A free version is available for download that cleans out the trash, temporary Windows and Internet files, and a number of other sectors on a regularly scheduled basis, if you choose to do it that way. One person can literally save hundreds of megabytes' worth of capacity on a daily basis that way.
A drastic method -- to be used as a last resort if the computer is so full of garbage that it just isn't working very well anymore -- is to simply clean off the main drive and reinstall the operating system and all the applications. This can take hours to do, but sometimes it's the best way to go.
If you do decide to go that road, be sure that all your bookmarks and e-mail contacts are backed up. It can take years to build up a large pool of that kind of information and a mere few minutes to destroy it all.
Cleaning up e-mail .pst files -- which often can be a gigabyte or more in size -- is more complicated. It's indeed time-consuming, but the best thing to do is simply go through all your e-mail -- perhaps alphabetically -- and kill everything out that is irrelevant.
Tedious, yes. Does this cry out for an e-mail archiving system, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of seats in an enterprise? You bet.