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Leveraging Workcycles with Exchange 2010's Managed Folder Assistant

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July 26, 2012

Leveraging Workcycles with Exchange 2010's Managed Folder Assistant

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

The number of e-mail inboxes supported by servers is increasing, and the size of those mailboxes is headed in the same direction. To help administrators manage e-mail maintenance, Exchange 2010 changed the Managed Folder Assistant (MFA (News - Alert)) to work on a workcycle basis rather than a schedule basis.

Many administrators, for example, used to schedule MFA to maintain inboxes at night, when servers had the least amount of traffic. This works well for small businesses. With large enterprises, the schedule ultimately didn’t allot enough time for the server to completely process all company inboxes, according to the company’s retention policies.

With workcycles, which premiered with Exchange 2010 SP1, administrators can program an assistant to do a specific amount of work in a specific amount of time. An assistant like the MFA then figures out how much data must be processed and how quickly the processing must run in order to satisfy the workcycle requirements.

The MFA workcycle requires the assistant to process every e-mail inbox at least once daily. The processing occurs 24/7 and is throttled to ensure that the server remains responsive. This arrangement ensures that the MFA can complete its work within the workcycle instead of limiting itself to a few scheduled hours in which it might not be able to process every inbox.

When the MFA processes an inbox, it examines items and stamps them with dates and retention tags according to programmed company policy. The MFA then cleans mailboxes, preserving e-mails and conversations according to the administrator’s retention policy.

Exchange blogger Tony Redmond reminds administrators to make sure workers and help desk personnel know what the company’s retention policies are before setting up MFAs.

“At the end of the day, the user gets a nicely cleaned mailbox and a populated archive and all is well if that’s what the user wanted and expected,” Redmond wrote. “The situation is less happy if the user panics because they think they have lost data and the help desk is unaware of what happens when archives are enabled.”

MFAs keep sprawling e-mail accounts from overwhelming servers. Just make sure that everyone knows what to expect.

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Edited by Braden Becker

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