PST files are Outlook data files that are sometimes used for email mailbox archiving. This is often the norm in many organizations and are seen to be quite useful. However, we would argue you should not use them at all.
Here are some reasons why you should avoid PST files altogether:
- PST files typically reside on workstation hard drives or on removable storage devices. This means they are unlikely to be backed up, which can lead to catastrophic data loss.
- Every organization has sensitive data that they do not want released publicly. The use of PST files makes it far too easy for data to be copied onto a removable drive, be misplaced or stolen.
- PST files have a reputation for getting easily corrupted, especially if the file grows beyond it’s natural limit. PST files that are stored in locations where they might be accessed by more than one user at a time are often problematic.
- Also, sharing a PST file among multiple users increases the chance of a file becoming corrupt. This is especially true if two users simultaneously attempt to open the same PST file.
- Data that is stored in a PST file exists outside of an Exchange server so they cannot be centrally searched or managed by an IT administrator, complicating eDiscovery processes.
- Microsoft does not support storing active PST files on network shares. Placing an active PST file on a network share increases the odds that the file will become corrupted and you won’t get any help from Microsoft when this happens.
- PST files are device specific and only work with Outlook. If Outlook stores data in PST files then the data will only be accessible using that specific copy of Outlook. The data will not be accessible on any other device that accesses the corresponding mailbox, which is problematic when using mobile devices that use Exchange mailboxes or Outlook Web App.
- Administrators might be asked to go through PST files across the organization, or a user might ask an administrator to try to recover data from a corrupt PST file. This incurs a cost due to the administrative effort that is required, not to mention the costs associated with data loss and inappropriate data exposure.
- Some organizations have policies to regulate message life-cycles, with the idea being that once a message is old enough they no longer have to keep a copy by law. By storing emails in a PST file, the message life-cycle has actually been circumvented, which can put the organization at risk in the event of legal action.
With Mail Archiver, you can batch-import all your organizations’ PST files into one central, secure store. The protection measures used on this are the same ones used to protect Exchange databases, making your archive secure and compliant.
At the same time, you can give your end users all the search functionality they currently have from their email inbox through a powerfully flexible search UI.
In short, storing emails in PST files is not a good archiving strategy and a centralized email archiving system like Mail Archiver is advised instead.