Best practices for using Exchange Online Archiving

By Michael Van Horenbeek,

In part one, we looked at the value of having Exchange Online Archives in an organization and introduced you to how the archives work. Now we can take a look at some best practices for working with EOA.

This list of best practices highlights some of the most important things you can do to make sure Exchange Online Archiving works to its full potential. Educating your end users is just as important as having sufficient bandwidth and taking your time with the rollout.

These best practices are a result of several Exchange Online Archiving projects I've done and the feedback that came from each.

Provisioning archives. If you provision archives for users and plan to immediately populate the archive with historical data from their mailboxes, such as when configuring a Retention Policy to automatically move items created before a certain date to the archive, it's better not to build the archives in Office 365. Instead, create them on-premises, let the archives fill up and move them to Office 365 in a remote mailbox move. This will greatly improve the end user's experience.

What happens if you don't do this? It depends.

For a small number of messages, there is no issue. But if Exchange is moving more messages to Office 365 while the mailbox is actively used, the end user might experience extreme slowness or Outlook may become unresponsive.

Dragging and dropping messages. The problem above is similar to the behavior of dragging and dropping messages from the on-premises mailbox to the online archive. Outlook treats this action as what I like to call a "foreground" operation, which means Outlook immediately handles the action.

Rollout EOA gradually. Take your time with this deployment. There is no reason to rush the deployment as this will almost certainly have a negative effect on your end users' experience, and that's what really matters. Gradually introducing Exchange Online Archiving will give you time to collect feedback from your users and make changes to retention policies if needed. It's also a good test to see how the load on your support organization is after deploying the first archives.

Outlook connectivity. Although this isn't specific to Exchange Online Archiving, make sure you've installed the latest Outlook updates and patches, preferably for Outlook 2013since, in my experience, it works well with Exchange Online Archiving. This will rule out any connectivity issues that could be caused by a missing an update.

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