CodeTwo Backup saves backed up data to Storages. As you continue using it the Storages will grow. Since for the backup safety reasons Storages cannot be located anywhere else than on local drives you may start to wonder what to do when Storages start to occupy most of your local drives. Is it safe to keep all that data in one place? Do I have to keep that 5 years old emails indexed in mounted Storage? The answer is no. Of course, you could simply unmount and move the Storage somewhere else but that does not seem like a well designed solution to this problem. That is why starting version 1.2 CodeTwo Backup introduced Retention Policy and Archiving features.
CodeTwo Backup features Archive Jobs to allow creating 1:1 copies of Storages. Also, along with Retention Policy it is there to provide Storage data growth control mechanism (keep only the most recent data within your immediate reach and archive the excess, old data in external resource).
Archive Jobs are defined separately for each Storage using Archive Job configuration wizard. Storage is treated as a whole so the exact copy of current Storage state is created in the process - all items, including all their versions are archived as well as folders structure. Be aware, that every time an archive job is started, a completely new archive is created - incremental backup mechanism is available only for Backup Jobs, not for Archive Jobs.
Contrary to Storages, in which items are kept in database files, archives saves data as versioned XML files and always encrypted FTS binary data files. Data format conversion during archiving process (and importing too) is transparent for the user. Moreover, archives keep metadata about the archive structure and version so in the case we decide to improve it in the future it will be possible to import old archives and convert to newer versions.
Other properties of Archive Jobs:
- Each Archive Job must use separate archive target folders, it is not possible to share archive location between multiple Archive Jobs.
- Contrary to Storages, archives can be kept on removable drives or in network resources.
- Archive Jobs cannot be paused and resumed. Once started they must finish the process. If forced-stopped, an archive will be considered corrupted and automatically removed.
- If Job is started Storage Retention Policy is suspended and resumed after Archive Job finishes.
- However, Backup Jobs can be ran at the same time as Archive Jobs.
- Indexer data for that particular Storage is not archived. Indexer will re-index all data in a new Storage once an archive is imported back.
- You can password-protect an archive so only you could import it.
- Aside from Storage Retention Policy that keeps tabs on the items age in Storage you can configure Retention Policy for Archive Job to marshal the number of stored versions of the same archive.
- Archive Jobs can be scheduled.
With CodeTwo Backup you can also archive to PST files. As PST is a proprietary file format of Microsoft, archiving to PST comes with some limitations:
- PST Archive Job creates as many PST files as the number of selected mailboxes from the Storage, each for everyone. It is not possible to archive the whole Storage containing data from multiple mailboxes to a single PST file.
- PST files are not encrypted. Additionally, despite the fact CodeTwo Backup features password protection for PST archives this should not be considered a solution for safe data storage. PST archive password protection uses standard defined by Microsoft for this file type. Unfortunately, methods defined by PST file type standard were cracked long time ago. It is not difficult to find software that brakes PST passwords literally within seconds. CodeTwo did not implement better password protection to PST archives because if we did that such PST files would not be possible to import to MS Outlook.
- Only current state of a mailbox from the Storage is copied to PST Archive. There is no items versioning as PST file format does not allow that.
- Archiving data to PST files is one-way operation, i.e. it is not possible to import data from PST file back to Storage in CodeTwo Backup.
- PST archive file cannot be bigger than 10GB so if there is more data to be archived, the archive job will automatically create multiple PST files, each not bigger than 10GB. This is by design, even though MS Outlook accepts PST files as big as 50GB. During our extensive testing we discovered inconsistent Outlook behavior when importing PST files bigger than 10GB. Also, due to PST format imperfection, PST files corrupt rather easily. The problem becomes more visible the bigger the PST file. Therefore, for the data safety we limited the archived PST file size to 10GB.
- PST archives were implemented to allow easy importing archived items directly to MS Outlook. Considering this and above mentioned limitations you probably should not think of PST archives as a proper long term and safe data archiving method.
Standard archives (but not PST ones) can be imported, if a need to review or restore old data arises. Importing works as one-time job and as a result it creates a new Storage with the imported items. Importing to an existing Storage is prohibited to avoid items versions conflicts. Imported items will be time stamped with the current date and time.