The Right Way to Manage (and Rid Yourself of) PST Files
This is an article we couldn’t help resist sharing. It is a bit geeky, but those of you with large volumes of information stored in Outlook may want to have a chat to us about this…
Microsoft Outlook PST files are still used today: “We are regularly contacted by firms that can’t cope with the sheer volume of PST files in their company and are therefore interested in our MailStore Server software,” says Michael Pelzer, Second-Level Technical Support Engineer. The following scenario is not uncommon: “Users create PST files in order to transfer emails from, say, their Outlook mailboxes to their local machines in order to circumvent mailbox quotas. But the problem for the IT administrator – and indeed anyone wanting to access the important information held in these emails – is that it’s not easy to identify all the places where these PST files are eventually saved,” he continues. Generally, PST files pose a challenge for IT administrators on numerous counts.
As already explained, rather than being stored centrally, PST files are usually spread across a variety of locations on the users’ machines. As well as making it more difficult to backup files, this practice frequently results in key data being lost and, could ultimately, result in penalties because statutory retention periods or data availability requirements are not being complied with.
Error-Prone File Format
Older PST formats are often damaged because the 2 GB file size has been exceeded, while more recent formats aren’t necessarily fully immune to file corruption either. In particular, the use of PST files that are not stored locally on the respective workstation is fraught with risk.
Compliance Requirements Cannot Be Met
Although the legal position on email retention periods not only varies on the international stage but also on a case-by-case basis, most companies are subject to some form of legal requirement governing email retention and handling. As a rule, however, PST files are completely beyond the control of an IT department and are therefore unsuitable as a means of meeting legal requirements. For example, users may delete emails created from PST files either intentionally or by mistake, and this can give rise to legal risks if those emails were subject to certain retention periods. MailStore Server allows you to define retention policies that ensure that emails are not deleted but retained for as long as is legally required. Moreover, the retention policies that can be set up individually in the MailStore software are becoming particularly significant in respect of the EU GDPR, as they help companies to comply with GDPR requirements. Defining retention policies gives IT administrators full control over how long different types of email are archived. They can decide themselves whether and, if so, when emails are automatically deleted from the archive, thus complying with different statutory retention periods.
Emails Cannot Be Found Rapidly
“The importance of emails in business communication means that business-critical content can easily become part of a legal dispute, for example when used as evidence,” says Björn Meyn, Senior Systems Engineer at MailStore, describing a realistic scenario. “But if these emails can’t be found because they haven’t been archived centrally, and the company is also unable to prove that they haven’t been tampered with, it may well be deprived of key arguments in court.” In order to prevent situations such as these companies are advised to dispense with PST files and store their emails centrally in a secure archive. Another advantage is that, once safe in the MailStore archive, emails can be found rapidly thanks to the integrated search function.
More Work for the IT Department
PST files continually generate workload for IT administrators. Examples include having to restore data lost in backups, or repairing corrupt files at the request of users. What is more, PST files place high demands on storage and backup when saved centrally.
The Solution: Transfer Your PST Files to a Central Archive
Once a company has made the decision to dispense with PST files in the long term, MailStore Server will ensure that a smooth transition takes place. To start with, all PST files in the company can be archived centrally. The software can be integrated in Microsoft Outlook seamlessly, for example, so that users can continue to access their emails as before and also search through them with the help of an extremely fast full-text search function. Where necessary, users can also restore emails from the archive themselves with just a single click of the mouse, fully relieving the IT department of the onerous task of restoring lost emails at a later stage. Last but not least, the introduction of an archiving solution renders PST files superfluous as a stopgap solution for bypassing mailbox quotas once and for all. With the aid of individually configurable deletion rules, MailStore Server can delete emails after being archived, thus keeping the volume of data on the email server at a permanently low level. Mailbox quotas are no longer required.