Step 4: Configure transport rules to auto-archive Exchange 2007 email

Configure Exchange Server 2007 transport rules to move email to a managed folder address automatically for long-term message retention and email archiving.

Thus far, we've created the Contoso folder and configured it with a five-year-retention period. But this setup requires users to move messages related to the Contoso project to the Contoso folder manually. Often, there are serious consequences for not complying with email-retention requirements. Additionally, trusting users to move messages into the necessary location regularly could be a bad idea. Automatically moving messages into the Contoso folder is recommended. To automate this process, we will combine transport rules with Microsoft Outlook rules. To begin:

  1. Open the Exchange Management Console and navigate through the console tree to: Organization Configuration -> Hub Transport.

    The Hub Transport server is responsible for routing messages within your Exchange 2007 organization. Therefore, we will create a rule that functions at the Hub Transport level and sends a copy of any message containing the word Contoso to a specific mailbox.

  2. With the Hub Transport container selected, click the New Transport Rule link in the Actions pane. Windows will launch the New Transport Rule wizard.
  3. As you can see in Figure 9, the wizard asks you to name the new transport rule. I recommend naming it something descriptive. This screen also allows you to enter an optional description of the rule's purpose.

    Exchange 2007 transport rule
    Figure 9: Enter a name for the rule that you are creating.

  4. Verify that the Enable Rule checkbox is selected, and click Next to go to the Conditions screen, which allows you to set the conditions for the rule.
  5. Select the When the Subject Field or Body of the Message Contain Specific Words checkbox, and you will see Specific Words as a hyperlink at the bottom of the screen, as shown in Figure 10.

    Figure 10
    Figure 10: You must click on the Specific Words hyperlink and add Contoso to the list.

  6. Click on this hyperlink and add the word Contoso to the list.
  7. Click OK and Contoso will become hyperlinked.
  8. Click Next to go to the Actions screen, which lets you control what happens when a message fits the criteria defined in the Conditions screen -- when the message contains the word Contoso.
  9. Unfortunately, there is no option to move the message to a specified folder because these rules apply to the transport level, not the mailbox level.

  10. You can configure the rule to send a copy of the message to a designated mailbox. Because we don't want users to be able to interfere with the rule's operation, send a copy of the message using a blind carbon copy (BCC).
  11. BCC the message to the Address box; the word Address is hyperlinked, as shown in Figure 11. Click on this hyperlink and replace the word Address with the path of the designated mailbox.
  12. Name the message repository
    Figure 11: Specify the name of the mailbox that you are using as a message repository.

  13. Select Prepend the Subject with String. This option lets you insert some text before the message's subject line. Unfortunately, the text will appear on the recipient's copy of the message. But it will be necessary to have some text in the subject line that identifies the message as something that must be archived.
  14. When you select Prepend the Subject with String, the section at the bottom of the screen will display the line Prepend Subject with String. In this line, the word String is hyperlinked.

  15. Click on the hyperlink and enter the words Contoso project. This will add these words to the beginning of the subject line of any message that mentions this project.

  16. Click Next again and you will see the Exception screen.

  17. We don't want any exceptions to the rule, so click Next to bypass this screen.

  18. You will see a summary of the configuration information you entered. Click New to create the transport rule. When the process completes, click Finish.

Applying the Inbox retention policy and setting up a mailbox-level retention rule

We have created a rule that will send a copy of any message containing the word Contoso to the mailbox you chose. I have created a mailbox named Contoso on my test system, and use that as a dedicated repository.

However, this violates the policy of limiting Inbox storage to one year. You could avoid this by not applying the mailbox-retention policy to the Contoso mailbox. In a real-world situation, the Contoso mailbox probably would also receive some unwanted messages, such as spam and copies of irrelevant messages that were sent to the entire company.

With this in mind, we will apply the Inbox retention policy to the Contoso mailbox . We'll also create a mailbox-level rule that will move any messages related to the Contoso project to the Contoso folder, where they will be retained for five years. To do so:

  1. Log in as the owner of the Contoso mailbox and open Outlook 2007.

  2. Select Rules and Alerts from the Tools menu. Outlook will display the Rules and Alerts properties sheet.

  3. Before you actually create a rule, I recommend performing an upgrade of the rules engine. So now click Options to display this dialog box, shown in Figure 12.
  4. Exchange 2007 Rules engine
    Figure 12: If you're running Outlook 2007 or newer, you should upgrade the Rules engine.

  5. Unless you use an older version of Microsoft Outlook, click Upgrade Now so that your rules perform better.
  6. When the rules engine update is complete, click OK to return to the Rules and Alerts properties sheet.
  7. Click New Rule to display the Rules wizard.
  8. Select Move Messages with Specific Words in the Subject to a Folder, as shown in Figure 13. Notice that the words Specific Words and Specified are hyperlinked.
  9. Move Messages with Specified Words to a folder
    Figure 13: Select Move Messages with Specific Words in the Subject to a Folder.

  10. Click on the Specific Words hyperlink and enter Contoso project.
  11. Click on the Specified hyperlink to see a list of all available folders.
  12. Select the Contoso folder and click OK.
  13. Click Finish to create the rule.

Moving copies of messages to a managed folder

There are a couple ways to create a managed folder and use it as a repository for copies of messages related to the Contoso project.

  • Create a public folder that can be emailed, allowing you to configure an Exchange 2007 transport rule so messages are sent to a public folder's email address directly. You then only need to setup a retention policy and necessary folder permissions.
  • Deliver the messages to a regular Exchange mailbox and then move them to a public folder. This involves a bit more work, but it tends to be more secure, since only the dedicated account whose mailbox is being used to collect copies needs permission to access the public folder.

If you use a dedicated mailbox to collect messages, and then deliver them to an Exchange public folder, you can use the same type of Microsoft Outlook rule demonstrated earlier. However, the difference is that when you tell the system to move messages to a public folder that you select, rather than to a managed folder.

Email archiving and retention with Exchange 2007 managed folders

 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: Create Exchange 2007 managed folders for email retention
 Step 2: Define email-retention limits for Exchange 2007 managed folders
 Step 3: Set email storage quota limits on Exchange 2007 folders
 Step 4: Configure transport rules to auto-archive Exchange 2007 email
 Step 5: Use Exchange 2007 public folders for extended email archiving

Brien M. Posey, MCSE
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Exchange Server, and has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at

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