Microsoft introduced the Personal Archives with Exchange 2010. In earlier releases of the product, messages were archived using 3rd party utilities. In addition to eliminating the need for external archiving solutions, this new feature removed the necessity of PST files. Also, since the Exchange Archive is a mailbox, it’s capable of leveraging built-in replication and high availability features within Exchange.
I won’t go into the details of how messages are processed and archived; there are plenty of articles on this process such as this Microsoft Technet article. The purpose of this post is to discuss a consideration that must be made when renaming or moving folders in your Primary mailbox, and how that impacts the Personal Archive mailbox.
The Exchange Personal Archive will move emails that are older than X amount of days to the Archive mailbox. The Retention Policy and its associated Retention tags that are configured and applied to the mailbox will determine when this move occurs. When messages get moved to the Archive mailbox, a folder with the same name and path as found in the Primary mailbox will be created. If there are no eligible messages to be archived, then nothing occurs.
However, there are times when folders will get renamed or moved around in the Primary mailbox. When this occurs with a Primary mailbox folder, the corresponding Archive folder will not get renamed or moved. Let’s consider the following example where you have a folder in your Primary mailbox called “Client A”, as seen below.
If you rename the “Client A” folder in your Primary mailbox to “Client 1”, the result will be two different folders in your Archive mailbox when items in the renamed folder get archived.
Let’s consider another scenario where you move the “Client 1” folder that is located in the Primary mailbox “Current Cases” folder to the “Retired Cases” folder. The result will be multiple folders in different paths in the Archive mailbox as seen below:
If a user has dozens or more subfolders under his or her Primary mailbox, these routine activities of renaming and moving folders can possibly lead to confusion or the belief that folders are missing. Although it’s not practical to never rename or move a folder, this has to be kept into consideration when performing such tasks.