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The great PST debate?

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So, how are you guys dealing with PST files in your offices? We have a typical Windows Domain with Exchange 2003, yet to keep mailboxes within a reasonable size (1GB!) staff are responsible for archiving off their old emails.


Of course, some staff choose to then create an archive for every client, which over time is used more as a document management system, so the size soon builds.


So, come backup time, I'm seeing 50% of the client backups are large PST files, 25% are private pictures/files and the final 25% is actually work related files.


This hasn't really been a problem up until now, however, now I'm in the middle of an off-site rsync duplication project and our daily backups, even compressed are pretty huge, mostly due to 'untouched' PST files that have changed in some way after Outlook mounts them.


My initial solution is to exclude PST files form the normal client backup routine and create a separate one which *just* copies the PST files (creating a separate backup set).


This backup set is then copied once a week, over the weekend when our office is mostly closed. Hopefully this will minimise the impact on our off-site backups. Of course, this means the client machines have to suffer a second 'scan' during the day which causes performance issues.


Any other suggestions or solutions? I could really do with block-level backups!



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Are you backing up individual client machines or are these PST files located on networked server drives? If they're being accessed across a network, you may want to give this a read:



As an IT Consultant, I try to steer my customers away from PST files completely whenever possible. They're just not a reliable way to store data. If they really require that information to be kept the safest place for it is in the information store. Create approval processes for mailbox quota exceptions if need be to help curb abuse.




Marc Creviere

Maximize Technologies, LLC

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Hi Marc, thanks for the response. The PST files are stored in the standard location in the Application Data directory in their Domain user profile directories.


Some users have disconnected them from outlook and have them archived them off to their H: drive, which is their user space on our network. This data is also backed up nightly, yet as outlook doesn't 'touch' them, they remain unchanged, so they're not duplicated by RS.


I have mailbox soft quotas in place at 1GB/mailbox, yet users simply run out of space and swear they can't delete emails without losing project communications - so we have ended up needing to archive to PST files to both retain the data and minimise mailbox sizes.


For now I have tweaked the PST proactive backup script to copy them once a week for now, which should result in drastically reduced daily Proactive backups, yet archived emails should remain relatively secure. This should also mean I can duplicate the PST backups off-site over a weekend when the office is closed (where client backups are done daily).



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