Highlighting new features in Exchange 2013: Compliance and e-discovery

By Steve Goodman,

Exchange 2010 contained several helpful compliance and e-discovery features, but they were more a stepping stone to what's available in Exchange 2013. This tip details how those features have been improved in Exchange 2013 and the benefits gained. It also includes an example walkthrough of how they can be put into action.

When it comes to compliance, Exchange Server traditionally hasn't been considered strong enough to meet the needs of most companies who need to retain email for legal reasons. In Exchange 2010, Microsoft introduced the legal hold and discovery search features to achieve what the company refers to as "immutability."

This essentially means that once it's in Exchange, it's possible to make sure that the content cannot be modified; even if a user edits or deletes a message, the original is retained within Exchange. This "in-place hold" means that instead of needing a separate store for all content that should be kept for compliance purposes, admins can leave everything where it is -- within Exchange -- and know that it is available for discovery if needed at a later date.

Compliance improvements in Exchange 2013

In Exchange 2013, the compliance and e-discovery feature set has been significantly overhauled to the point that it is a practical option over third-party products. In fact, these features are so improved that it's not unreasonable to imagine that they'll be a key to Exchange 2013 adoption, especially when combined with SharePoint 2013 and Lync 2013.

Although legal hold remains in Exchange 2013, it's now a deprecated feature. Both legal hold and multi-mailbox search have been replaced by the new In-Place eDiscovery & Hold section, which is found within the Compliance Management section of the Exchange Administration Center (EAC); you'll also find the corresponding PowerShell cmdlets there as well.

While the consolidation of features is a major improvement, it's how they work that's really impressive. In Exchange 2010, legal hold was an all-or-nothing feature. Admins could enable it for mailboxes on a case-by-case basis, but didn't have granular control over it.

In Exchange 2013, admins can define a scope when implementing an in-place hold, then let it do the heavy lifting for them:

  • Indefinite hold -- This option lets admins put entire mailboxes on hold indefinitely.
  • Query-based hold -- This option lets admins place items that match a set of criteria on hold. This includes keywords within the message, senders, recipients and more.
  • Time-based hold -- As the name suggests, this option lets admins place messages on hold for a specified amount of time.

To read the full article, go to: SearchExchange

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