May 28 2009

Retain and Comply with Exchange 2007

Configure managed folders and transport rules in Exchange 2007 for improved e-mail management and regulatory compliance.

If your company is required to retain e-mail because of regulatory compliance or would simply like to better manage its Exchange infrastructure, until recently the options were limited to generating journal reports for every e-mail sent and received, or using third-party products.

Exchange 2007 introduces managed folders, which let sysadmins apply content retention settings to Outlook folders, and transport rules, which can be used to copy, restrict or classify messages at the server level.

Messaging Records Management

A new concept in Exchange 2007, Message Records Management employs managed custom folders assigned to users’ mailboxes to retain mail according to company policy. Although there is provision for limited automation, the onus is largely on users to move mail from their inbox to the custom folders, each of which has a policy to determine how long mail is retained and what action to take once the retention period is over.

There are two types of managed folder: default and custom. The latter is available only to organizations with Exchange Enterprise client access licenses (CALs). Default managed folders allow sysadmins to define content retention rules on standard folders such as Inbox and Calendar; managed custom folders exist in addition to the standard set of Outlook folders.

Configuring Managed Folders

Let’s set up a managed folder that deletes e-mail after one year. Log on to an Exchange server with an account that is a member of the Exchange Organization Administrators security group.

Create a managed custom folder

  1. Open the Exchange Management Console (EMC) from Start > All Programs > Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.
  2. Select Mailbox under the Organization Configuration node and then the Managed Custom Folders tab in the central pane.
  3. Click New Managed Custom Folder under Mailbox in the Actions pane.
  4. Name the new folder 1 year as shown in Figure 1. Optionally, you can set a storage limit. Click New to complete the process. Once the folder has been created, click Finish.

Figure 1

Add managed content settings

  1. Right-click the 1 year folder on the Managed Custom Folders tab and select New Managed Content Settings.
  2. Name the settings as shown in Figure 2 and set the Message type to E-mail.

Figure 2

  1. Check Length of retention period (days) and enter 365 into the box. The remaining settings we’ll leave as default; click Next to continue.
  2. Click Next past the journaling screen, New and then Finish. You should now see the new managed content settings in the central pane if you expand the 1 year folder as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Create a managed folder mailbox policy

  1. Click New Managed Folder Mailbox Policy in the Actions pane. Call it Standard and then click Add.
  2. In the Select Managed Folder dialog, select 1 year and click OK to continue.
  3. Click New (Figure 4) and then Finish to complete the procedure.

Figure 4

Configure the managed folder assistant to run on a schedule

  1. Click Mailbox under Server Configuration on the left. Right-click your Exchange server in the central pane and select Properties from the menu.
  2. Select the Messaging Records Management tab in the Properties dialog and set the Managed Folder Assistant schedule to Custom using the drop-down menu. Click Customize to set when the assistant should run.
  3. Close the Properties dialog.

Add the managed folder mailbox policy to users

  1. Click Mailbox under Recipient Configuration on the left. In the central pane, select the mailboxes to which you want to add the managed folder mailbox policy, right-click and select Properties.
  2. Select the Mailbox Settings tab in the Properties dialog, select Messaging Records Management and click Properties.
  3. Check Managed folder mailbox policy and then use the Browse button to select the policy we created earlier called Standard. Click OK twice to complete the procedure.

Force the managed folder assistant to run ahead of schedule

  1. Open Exchange Management Shell (EMS) from Start > All Programs > Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.
  2. Type Start-ManagedFolderAssistant in the command prompt and press ENTER.

Open Outlook using one of the accounts selected in step 15, and you will see Managed Folders in the folder list (Figure 5). Managed custom folders are searchable, which is useful for e-discovery compliance.

Figure 5

Transport Rules

Journaling allows you to forward all messages to a specified mailbox, but if you need granular control of message flow within your Exchange organization, you can apply hub transport rules at the server level to assist with policy compliance by changing the delivery or content of messages. Transport rules manage mail flow between internal recipients and messages that pass in and out of an Exchange organization.

While it’s not possible to specify that messages be delivered directly to a managed custom folder, you could create a rule that copies all mail received from an external partner to a dedicated archiving mailbox or public folder. Transport rules are built using conditions and actions, and wildcards are supported when using EMS for additional flexibility.

Let’s create a rule that copies all mail from an external recipient to a journaling mailbox:

  1. In EMC, click Hub Transport in the Organization Configuration node and select the Transport Rules tab in the central pane.
  2. Click New Transport Rule in the Actions pane, give the rule a name and click Next.
  3. Select from people on the Conditions screen, and in Step 2 click people to choose a contact from the address list.
  4. Click Next and then select copy the message to addresses on the Actions screen. Click addresses in Step 2 and select a recipient from the address list. Click Next to continue (Figure 6).
  5. Skip the Exceptions screen, click New to create the rule and then click Finish to complete the procedure.

Figure 6

As you can see from Figure 6, the available criteria for managing transport rules are considerably more than for managed content settings or journaling.

Russell Smith is an independent consultant based in the United Kingdom who specializes in Microsoft systems management.