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TechTip: How to Deploy Flexible File System Archiving with Enterprise Vault Retention Folders

Created: 26 May 2009
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File system archiving (FSA) optimizes storage and ensures that corporate data retention policies are maintained. You can better manage corporate compliance through user classification of files into the archive and customize key elements of FSA by utilizing Retention Folders. This TechTip discusses how to use Symantec Enterprise Vault Retention Folder policies to provide more flexible end-user archiving. Note that FSA Retention Folders were first introduced in Enterprise Vault 2007.

Using folder hierarchies
FSA policies typically apply the same ‘fixed’ policy throughout an entire storage volume, such as archiving all Office files that have not been accessed for 90 days. Using Retention Folder hierarchies, however, allows administrators to create more granular policies that are pushed out to user’s Home folders. These folders can then express detailed corporate retention policies, perhaps matching those of a corporate file plan. Typically Retention Folders would be pushed out to the users’ Home folders. A generic policy would be applied to the Home folder, but the folders within the Retention Folder hierarchy can have very specific archive policies or retention periods applied to them. This allows users to classify differing types of files into the archive based on their business value; for example, anything of a legal nature may need to be retained for twenty years, whereas anything of a personal nature might only be retained for two years.

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Fig. 1: Retention Folders

Retention Folders are created and pushed out to users through the VAC console No client-side software is required. Users simply ‘drag and drop’ files in to the appropriate Retention Folder using something like Windows Explorer.

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Fig. 2: Policy settings in Retention Folders

Retention Folders are typically deployed to help enforce your company’s retention and compliance policies. You can assign easy-to-identify names such as Legal, Medical, or Customer Contracts and apply company-specific policies to each. Additionally, you may want to create folders that are named by retention period, such as “One Year Retention,” “Five Year Retention,” allowing users to determine how long specific files must be retained in the archives. Similarly, project folders by specific groups can easily be created and pushed out. For example, you can create a “2009 Marketing Plan” folder at the base of the Marketing file tree group, and associate file retention and archiving rules to that folder. Once you push this custom Retention Folder out through the console, everyone in the marketing group will inherit the folder and its policies for this project.

Preventing or expediting archiving
Many companies have data they will never want to retain. In some countries, personal files created by employees are not owned by the corporation, and should be exempt from retention requirements. Therefore, these companies may see the value in creating a “Personal Files” Retention Folder and applying a “Do Not Archive” policy to that folder. This allows the company to comply with any data privacy laws while also saving valuable archive storage space, as none of the files that users drag into this folder will ever be sent to the archives.

For critically important files that would require immediate archive retention and removal from primary storage, you can create a Retention Folder named “Archive Now” with a zero day policy. All files dragged into the folder will be sent to the archive the next time that the archiving task is run.

Archive Now, Shortcut Later
Enterprise Vault version 8.0 introduces a concept of Archive Now, Shortcut Later to FSA that can be applied to Retention Folders. By default, when files are archived, placeholders are created immediately in the folder. The “Archive Now, Shortcut Later” policy allows you to delay the creation of placeholders—leaving the original files in place for a specified period of time after they have been archived. This may be useful for file types that see higher-than normal activity after archiving but are sensitive enough to secure through archiving, while facilitating compliance and discovery with no impact to the end users. By leaving the original data intact for a predetermined period, users can quickly access the data without causing a data retrieval from the Enterprise Vault archive.

With an organized and well-managed user folder hierarchy, the creation of Enterprise Vault FSA Retention Folders can automate and more finely control corporate archiving.

For additional information on Symantec Enterprise Vault 8.0, click here.