Email Archives at UWA

The advent of the UniWA Project has brought about an opportunity to rethink the way we provide email archives at UWA.

Background

As a result of the storage limits inherent in our email service (ECS), many staff use PST files to store historical or overflow email. UWA has historically configured the storage of these PST email archives in an ad-hoc way, which further varies between IT support units. 

This has led to two major issues:

  • Many archives are configured to run from network drives (such as P: Drive). Whilst network PST files may work in many cases, they also frequently fail when configured in this way. By nature, archives are not tolerant of network speeds or disruption. These factors cause damage to the files. Microsoft themselves do not support - and in fact actively recommend against - their connection via a network.
  • The failure and subsequent restore of network PST files is a continual burden on UWA staff and the service desk personnel that support them, and the risk of loss to stored data has been realised many times. Often the restore of data is not complete, and some items may be corrupted beyond repair - these items are lost.

Even mail stored as per recommendation on the local machine is inconsistent; different practices and backup regimes exist across support units.

What needs to happen?

The migration of data to S: drive and H: Drive under the UniWA project offers UWA a unique opportunity to tackle this problem and improve the reliability of email archives.

Whilst the ideal long term solution is to update and improve the ECS service to accommodate larger mailboxes and archives, tackling the current situation places UWA in a much better situation to successfully transition to any new email solution in the future.

Why now?

As data is moved into UniWA, any moved PST files will break their connections. Errors will be displayed indicating that email archives within Outlook are no longer available. As far as is possible, it is in our best interests to tackle the problem before this occurs, to minimise disruption and impact during migration.

How?

UniWA creates a consistent method for storing and backing up theses PST files. This involves a common local store for PST files - which permits mobile users to access mail while not connected to the network - and and a consistent method of backup, to ensure that mail stored in PST files are not lost.

In addition, this same process can be applied to ensure locally stored data is handled consistently across UWA. As previously mentioned, this greatly improves UWA’s successful migration to an upgraded mail platform in the future.

What does this mean to me?

For Central Administration users: To ensure you are not adversely affected during UniWA migrations, you may soon see a prompt on your desktop informing you that files will need to be moved.

Please note that during this time you should not attempt to open Outlook, and that you should use Webmail until the process has completed.

UniWA Archive Prompt
 

The warning will appear daily, until you have completed the move process.

We will aim to contact only those of you who are affected by this change. Further information will be provided as plans progress.

For Faculty & School Users: Please check with your local IT support area to see if and how this applies to you.

Please note this this movement of archive files is a pre-requisite to UniWA migrations only - this process does not migrate you to UniWA.

During the UniWA migrations, we are aiming to deliver processes which permit you to leave your machine switched on, logged in and locked overnight, so the move can occur in your absence.

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