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How to manage your archived email

Created: 28 Jul 2013 • Updated: 30 Jul 2013
Wayne Humphrey's picture
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When it comes to managing an email inbox there are many different approaches to take, and some of these depend on the application that is used to manage the mailbox, others depending on other external factors that might be taking place on a mailbox.

In this article I'll talk to you about moving archived emails so that they are in one place, and about whether it is better to create lots of subfolders and file things into them, or not.

Moving all mails - or not?


In most Enterprise Vault email archiving environments the Enterprise Vault archiving task will process mailboxes each evening or night and find mails to archive, based on policies which are configured on the Enterprise Vault server.  The following day when a user looks at their email inbox they might see a bunch of shortcuts to those items which were archived like this:


Sometimes the user might see some 'gaps' like this:


This is sometimes the case when the archiving policy has an element of quota-based archiving in it. It means that some of the items which were archived were processed because they were large, and would have a larger impact on the users mailbox size versus quota. For an end user this might sometimes seem a little bit odd, because after all, they don't know (or care) particularly about the policies you have implemented, they only really care about the information contained in the mails in their mailbox.

Having this collection of Enterprise Vault shortcuts in the inbox, and in and every subfolder, can sometimes drive users to distraction when it comes to trying to find specific information.

So, one possible solution to that is to create an Inbox rule which will move all these shortcut items into a particular folder in the inbox, for example, ArchivedItems, like you see below:


To create this rule you follow these steps:

Click on Rules -> Manage Rules & Alerts


Click on 'New Rule', then select the option to 'Apply rule on messages I receive':


This makes Outlook start with a blank rule, and you can then select the checkbox next to the 'uses the form name form', and select the Enterprise Vault - Archived Item form:


You then select the option 'move it to the specified folder' and select the folder we created previously.  Then walk through the rest of the wizard making any other tweaks that you may wish to explore.

(The steps will vary slightly depending on the specific version of Outlook that is being used)

Now when the end user next logs in after mailbox archiving has been executed against their mailbox, they can run the rule which we just created, and all the items that are touched by the archiving policy, and turned in to shortcuts will be moved to the subfolder we specified.  Of course the rule can be extended; we just  moved fully archived items into the subfolder, but you might also want to move Pending Items too.

Subfolders - or not?


There have been many studies performed in recent years in relation to two types of people managing their mailbox. These are: pilers and filers.  Pilers either don't move things from the inbox - ever, or they have one folder where all mails get placed. Filers on the other hand have huge numbers of folders, and spend a lot of time deciding where each mail should go.

There are pro's and con's of each way of managing your mailbox. It used to be felt that filing emails meant that getting an email back, relating to a particular topic, would be quicker, because of the way that items were filed.  But the recent studies which have been performed show that actually it might not be a clear win in favour of filers.  Pilers can use powerful search tools within Outlook, or within Enterprise Vault to more quickly find emails.  They can do their search right at the top of the hierarchy and they're not having to worry about finding the 'right' subfolder for the particular query at hand.

Whether you are a piler or a filer, it is worth considering where shortcuts to archived items should be placed. As we've seen you can move them all in to one folder with an inbox rule in Outlook. Or you can just leave them in the folder where they were archived. It's worth considering that if you do move archived items around there is an additional step that needs to be done during the next archiving run, it is called shortcut processing. One of the things that this is does is to update the location of the item in the archive. So if an archived item is moved from the inbox to a particular subfolder, until shortcut processing has been run, Enterprise Vault does not know that this archived item has in fact moved.  (This can cause problems if items are then restored back to the mailbox from the Enterprise Vault Admin Console)


Systems like Enterprise Vault can impact the way that users work with their inbox and emails in general. It's important for Enterprise Vault and Messaging administrators to think about how these changes impact users, before making them. Sometimes a little bit of user education or re-education is needed, and sometimes simply describing the new, extra types of email management interfaces will help users go in a whole new direction with their inbox.  With particular importance is to make sure the end users in your environment understand what is happening to their emails when it comes time for them to be archived.

Are you a piler, or a filer? Do you put all archived items in one folder?  Let me know in the comments below.