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Netmail Archive 5.x


Overview of how Netmail Archive handles 100% email message retention in Exchange 2010 without journaling.

Note: A newer version of this document is also available: Overview of 100% Message Retention in Exchange 2013 and Office 365 without Journaling


With Netmail, organizations can now guarantee 100% message retention in Exchange 2010 without relying on message journaling. This new feature works in conjunction with Single Item Recovery in Exchange to prevent any items from being removed from the database before they are archived. By applying both an adequate retention period and storage quota to the Recoverable Items Folder in Exchange and running regularly scheduled archiving jobs in Netmail Archive, your organization can ensure that even those items which may have been deleted by users are still archived.

Recoverable Items Folder (RIF)


  • Delete: Describes when an item is deleted from any folder and placed in the Deleted Items default folder.
  • Soft delete: Describes when an item is deleted from the Deleted Items default folder and placed in the RIF. Additionally describes when a Microsoft Outlook user deletes an item by pressing Shift+Delete, which bypasses the Deleted Items folder and places the item directly in the RIF.
  • Hard delete: Describes when an item is marked to be purged from the mailbox database. This is also known as a store hard delete.

 Key points about the RIF:

  • The RIF is formerly known as the dumpster (prior to Exchange 2010).
  • The RIF captures soft/hard deleted items.
  • The RIF captures purged items.
  • The RIF has a finite lifetime (default: 14 days) and size (default: 30GB).
  • When a mailbox is moved to another mailbox database, the RIF moves with it.
  • The RIF is indexed by Exchange Search and can be discovered using Multi-Mailbox Search.
  • Exchange can prevent data from being purged from the RIF.
  • Exchange can track edits of certain content.

RIF limitations:

  • Items are removed when their age surpasses the retention period.
  • Delete will stop functioning when the RIF reaches its quota.
  • Online: For retention of >30 days, Plan 2 license required.

About RIF mailbox quotas:

When an item is moved to the RIF, its size is deducted from the mailbox quota and added to the size of the Recoverable Items folder. In Exchange 2010, mailbox databases have a configurable Recoverable Items warning quota (soft limit) of 20GB and a Recoverable Items quota (hard limit) of 30GB. By default, these limits are inherited by all mailboxes in the database. However, you can configure individual mailboxes with different quotas.

When the RIF for a mailbox reaches the Recoverable Items quota, no more items can be stored in the folder. This impacts mailbox functionality in the following ways:

  • Mailbox users can't delete items.
  • The Managed Folder Assistant can't delete items based on retention tag or managed folder settings.
  • For mailboxes that have single item recovery, In-Place Hold or litigation hold enabled, the copy-on-write page protection process can't maintain versions of items edited by the user.
  • For mailboxes that have mailbox audit logging enabled, no mailbox audit log entries can be saved in the Audits subfolder.

 The RIF contains the following subfolders:

  • Deletions: This subfolder contains all items deleted from the Deleted Items folder. (In Outlook, you can soft delete an item by pressing Shift+Delete.) This subfolder is exposed to users through the Recover Deleted Items feature in Outlook and Outlook Web App.
  • Versions: If either litigation hold or single item recovery is enabled, this subfolder contains the original and modified copies of the deleted items. This folder isn't visible to end users. Note that this folder is not used/populated when enabling Single Item Recovery. It is, however, still archived by Netmail.
  • Purges:  If either litigation hold or single item recovery is enabled, this subfolder contains all items that are hard deleted. This folder isn't visible to end users.

After the deleted item retention period elapses, the item is moved to the Purges folder and is no longer visible to the user. When the Managed Folder Assistant processes the mailbox, items in the Purges subfolder are purged from the mailbox database.

How to enable the RIF:

  • Configure Single Item Recovery for a mailbox.
  • Use the following PowerShell commands to set the retention period and mailbox quota, respectively:
Set-Mailbox -Identity MBX01 -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $True -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30
Set-Mailbox –Identity MBX01 -RecoverableItemsWarningQuota 12GB -RecoverableItemsQuota 15GB -UseDatabaseQuotaDefaults $false

Note: The retention period can be set to any length of time. However, if you want to retain deleted items for longer than 30 days, the mailbox must have an Exchange Online (Plan 2) user license.

For Single Item Recovery, the MBX01 mailbox in the sample commands above needs to be allocated to the Organization Management role.

Single Item Recovery in Exchange 2010 – Workflow

How Netmail Archive uses the RIF

  • It replaces Journal archiving
  • The RIF is handled in the same way as any other mailbox folder: All its subfolders are archived, with no additional level of granularity.
  • A separate policy is created for the RIF quick capture

Important: The archive job MUST run successfully BEFORE the retention period has expired to ensure 100% retention. 

Where is the RIF being archived?

The Recoverable Items folder is found under the root folder, and it contains the Deletions and Purges subfolders. The RIF will only be visible to super users.



Understanding Recoverable Items:

Recoverable Items Folder:

Enable Single Item Recovery for a Mailbox:

Single Item Recovery in Exchange Server 2010:

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