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How to use managed folders for Exchange 2010 message retention

Managed folders are most often used to control message retention. Before you use them, you need to become familiar with the cmdlets and parameters to configure managed folders.

Managed folders have several benefits but working with them can take some getting used to. This tip explains how...

to create and configure managed folders. You’ll also learn some commands you can use to control message retention.

There are two important points admins should know about managed folders. Because managed folders are a premium feature, Microsoft requires that organizations purchase an Exchange Server Enterprise client access license (CAL) before implementing them. Additionally, there are two types of managed folders -- default and custom. Default folders are built into Exchange (Inbox, Sent Items, etc.); custom folders refer to any non-default managed folders.

How to create a custom managed folder
Managed folder administration is performed almost exclusively through the Exchange Management Shell. If you want to create a custom managed folder, you would use the New-ManagedFolder cmdlet. Using this command, you have to provide both an internal name and folder name, which will be displayed within Outlook. I recommend keeping the name and folder name uniform.

To create a managed folder, use a command similar to this:

New-ManagedFolder –Name “Important Stuff” –FolderName “Important Stuff”

Depending on the folder’s purpose, you might also want to set a quota on the folder or provide users with a description of the folder’s intended use. You can do both when you’re creating the folder by appending the –StorageQuota parameter or the –Comment parameter to the command. If you decide to include a comment, you should also use the MustDisplayComment parameter.

If, for example, you want to apply a 5 GB quota to a new custom folder and retain folder content for 30 days, use a command similar to this to create your folder:

New-ManagedFolder –Name “Important Stuff” –FolderName “Important Stuff” –StorageQuota ‘5Gb’ –Comment ‘Messages in this folder will be kept for 30 days’ –MustDisplayComment $True.

This command creates a folder named Important Stuff and applies a 5 GB quota to it. Although the comment says that messages in the folder will be retained for 30 days, we haven’t done anything to address message retention. You must apply managed content settings to control message retention.

Understanding managed content settings for managed folders

To apply managed content settings, you must use the New-ManagedContentSettings cmdlet. When you use this cmdlet, there are five pieces of information you must provide:

  1. You must use the FolderName switch to specify which folder to apply the managed content settings to.

  2. Specify the message class, which informs Exchange Sever of the type of messages the managed content settings will target. For example, you can apply the managed content settings to email or voicemail. If you want the managed content settings to apply to all content types, specify that with an asterisk. Otherwise, you will need to specify the desired content type.

    The names Microsoft uses for individual content types aren’t intuitive. For example, if you want to manage voicemail messages, use the IPM.Note.Microsoft.Voicemail* content type. Microsoft lists a complete list of all the content types on Technet.

  3. Provide a name for the managed content settings; you’ll use this name to address the managed content settings if you want to modify or delete them. You can also link multiple managed folders to a single managed content setting.

  4. To enable retention, you must provide a retention action. The retention action controls what happens to items of the specified content type once they reach their age limits.

  5. The age limit is the final piece of required information you need. It acts as an expiration date for folder items.

Using the previous example of the Important Stuff managed folder, let’s set the retention limit to delete folder items after they exceed their 30 day age limit. The command to create this setting would look like this:

New-ManagedContentSettings –FolderName “Important Stuff” –MessageClass * -Name ContentSettingsForImportantStuff –RetentionEnabled $true –RetentionAction MoveToDeletedItems –AgeLimitForRetention “30”

This command creates a managed content setting named ContentSettingsForImportantStuff and binds it to the Important Stuff folder. It sets an age limit of 30 days on all folder content and moves expired items to the Deleted Items folder.

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a seven-time Microsoft MVP for his work with Windows 2000 Server, Exchange Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. For more information visit

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