All About Archive Accounts

Why do we need to archive at all?
Once mailboxes exceed a certain size (or, more accurately, a certain number of items) Outlook will struggle to handle the amount of data that is being stored. Outlook will run more slowly and this will be especially noticeable when starting up and when closing. It will be increasingly slow to run 'broad-stroke' tasks such as searching or marking all items as read.


To keep Outlook running snappily it is a good idea to create an archive for infrequently accessed mail.


Why not just Auto-archive?
If you've used Outlook for more than a few weeks you'll have seen a pop-up asking you if you want to Auto-archive now. Clicking 'Yes' will move your mail from the Exchange server and onto the hard drive of the computer you are using.


When your mail is on the Exchange server it is available wherever you are in the world and backed up regularly to keep it safe. When mail is on the hard drive of your computer you can only see it when you're logged on to that machine and it is not backed up at all. If your machine were to fail the archive would be lost. We strongly advise against using Auto-archive for these reasons.


What is an Archive Account?
We, in the Department of Statistics, wanted to find a way for users to keep their mailboxes within quota but to store as much mail as they wanted as safely as possible with as much availability as possible.


We created a system where each user can have a second Archive Account on the Exchange server to store their old mail. When your mail is in an Archive account it is stored on a slower disk than your main account. The speed difference is probably not perceptible in normal use. The biggest difference is that your mail is only backed up once a week. The assumption here is that mail in an archive account changes much less frequently than mail in your main inbox.


How do I get an Archive Account?
If you email ithelp@stats.ox.ac.uk we can set up an archive account for you. To get access to it you will have to come to our offices to change the password on it and then follow the instructions here to add it to your Outlook view.


How do I move mail to the Archive Account?
Mail cannot be automatically moved to an Archive Account.


The easiest way is to open Outlook and drag mail from your main mailbox to the archive by simply dragging and dropping. You can drag and drop individual emails or whole folders.


How much mail can I store in my archive?
Archive Account mailbox size is not quota-ed at all. Within reasonable usage levels you can consider your storage here to be infinite.


How can I see this mail when I am away from my desk?
If you read your mail on a laptop you will not be able to see any of the mail in your Archive Account when you're not connected to the internet.


When you are connected to the internet you can either configure Outlook to read your mail or use OWA (Outlook Web Access).


If you use OWA to read your archive mail to should be very careful NEVER to reply to mail. If you do so, the recipient of your response will be unable to reply to the Archive account and important correspondence may be lost.