If you have a small business you’re probably running a server with Small Business Server (SBS) for email, file sharing and collaboration. SBS is a good fit for small businesses as it provides a good platform for the IT of a small organization. When the server is new, performance is great, email and file sharing work like a charm and there is more than enough space on the server to store all the files and attachments. As it’s a new server, email quotas wouldn’t be reached yet and there is still a substantial amount of email storage available.

Over time things change. Irrespective of the type or size of the organization, emails and attachments start piling up on the server. Server performance becomes sluggish because of all the files and Exchange starts slowing down due to the ever-increasing volume of emails and attachments stored. Inevitably, backups take longer and longer as storage is used up.

Email storage gets depleted over time and user mailbox quotas are reached. Initially employees will delete emails with large attachments and emails which are unimportant but soon they will have to start deleting more important email. Most people are not comfortable doing this because they would like assurance that should they ever need to refer to an email they know they have it.

Email keeps piling up because email user behavior is changing. Employees are not using their mailbox merely as a store of email but as a personal storage and document store. The inclusion of quick search in Outlook and the frequent exchange of files via email make this change a natural evolution in behavior. This change does not, however, do anything to reduce the impact on email storage – indeed it exacerbates it.

This confluence of factors forces employees to resort to non-optimal solutions to keep their email. Most people use PST files as a way to archive older emails. This is an easy choice: PST files are easy to use; it’s a free option that comes ‘bundled in’ with Outlook. Indeed, Outlook encourages this behavior: users are prompted to enable auto-archiving and all users have to do is click on the ‘Yes’ button and before an IT admin can blink PST files are proliferating all over the network.

PSTs are a compromise to the email storage conundrum: administrators can keep the mail quotas on mailboxes to control email storage requirements on the SBS / Exchange server while employees still get to keep their old email, even if in PST files.

A better solution would be one that obviates the need for such a compromise in the first place. A solution that lets organizations control email storage on the SBS/Exchange server while allowing employees a virtually unlimited mailbox that doesn’t involve the hassles and problems associated with PST files.