Archiving in Exchange Server 2010 vs Symantec Enterprise Vault

When Exchange 2010 was released in RTM it introduced a new feature called Archive Mailbox. In RTM this Archive Mailbox had to be collocated in the same database as the main mailbox of the users. In Exchange Server 2010 SP1 the Archiving Mailbox feature was updated with the ability to have the Archive Mailbox located in a different database than the main mailbox.

When designing solutions for customers on Exchange Server 2010 I often get asked why they need archiving in the first place and is Exchange 2010 archiving good enough compared to Enterprise Information Archiving solutions such as Symantec Enterprise Vault. The answer is complicated, and it depends greatly on the customer needs and their users. To answer this you need to understand what Exchange archiving really is and how it differs from Enterprise Information Archiving. to answer this we look to Gartner.

Gartner has been publishing a Magic Quadrant for E-Mail Active Archiving since 2002 featuring products that does Enterprise level archiving of emails. They now see an increase in end-user demand of same type of archiving for additional content types such as files shares, Sharepoint and IM. That is the reason for Gartner in 2010 to release a new Magic Quadrant replacing the old. They now call it Enterprise Information Archiving. Vendors featured in this version need to be able to archive e-mail, file, Sharepoint and IM. Below is the latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving (EIA):

We see in this quadrant that Symantec is a leader with its Enterprise Vault product. These are the key points for the reason of why EV is in the leader quadrant

  • It’s a mature product with the largest worldwide base of enterprise customers
  • It archives mail, Windows file systems, Sharepoint and IM
  • Virtual Vault enables users to manage and view their archive data using a familiar GUI experience
  • Tight integration with is backup products
  • Enterprise level E-Discovery
  • Support for Exchange 2010 SP1 and Microsoft BPOS

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is not part of the EIA Magic Quadrant. Gartner gives the following statement about why:

“Exchange 2010 archiving is a good choice for organizations that have never implemented archiving and are struggling with rapid, unmanageable growth of historical e-mail, or are looking for organizations that are looking to replace PST files with a more efficient and secure archiving capability. Because there is no support for files or other content types beyond e-mail, Microsoft’s archiving capabilities are not rated in this Magic Quadrant for EIA”

This is the essence of the Exchange Server 2010 archiving feature, it is an online PST archive with entry level archiving features. Knowing this, it boils down to the following questions:

  1. When is Exchange 2010 archiving good enough?
  2. When does the need for Enterprise Information Archiving like Symantec Enterprise Vault arise?

Koen Vermoesen has created a feature comparison between Exchange 2010 and Enterprise Vault in this article:

The feature Comparison between Exchange 2010 SP1 and Enterprise Vault 9.0 should be a good starting point to decide what solution to choose. I have updated it with some additional information. The conclusion in the feature comparison is noteworthy.


Microsoft Exchange
Server 2010

Symantec Enterprise
Vault 9.0

Archiving Targets

Exchange Server

Exchange Server

Lotus Domino

Sharepoint Server

File Servers


SP1 to store primary and secondary mailboxes in separate databases

Support for E2K10 from SP1 onwards

OWA or Outlook 2010/2007 to access the archives

Outlook 2003/2007/2010


Additional client software required


Seamless integration, both client and server-side; pst-like

Training required for both the Administrator and the end-user

Mailbox search and conversation view work across both mailboxes

Additional technology


“Stubs”, Archive Explorer look “different” to the end-user

Virtual Vault looks just like a pst and mailbox search work across mailbox and Virtual Vault


Offline Archive Support


Offline Vault


Exchange databases



Special options like WORM, lots of choice

PST Migration

Gathering of PST is manual. Need to be imported using Outlook or Powershell

PST files can be added both from local computers and NFS with limited user interaction using collector tools

Legal Position




Easy (?)

Hard (?)



In place upgrades not supported, need to do swing migrations

Cannot skip major versions. Full reinstall even for SP’s


Need to pay attention to compatibility both for client and server-side software


Enterprise CAL’s (Client Access Licenses) required

Additional software to license

Possibly additional server licenses

Additional hardware, can be virtualized with less than 1000 users, or low mailflow.



Separate SQL server in large deployments




Low end alternative for pst-files for the first time ever

If you want to archive…

… for seamless PST import

… for legal reasons

… multiple targets

… to specific storage solutions




Gartner Magic Quadrant EIA october 2010: 

7 thoughts on “Archiving in Exchange Server 2010 vs Symantec Enterprise Vault

  1. Enterprise Vault is a hog, and unless the full scale of the product was needed, there’s not enough money in the world to make me suffer through another implementation and pilot of that product.

  2. Even if a company decides to not do mailbox archiving via Enterprise Vault, the journaling capabilities can still be used to meet legal and compliance needs. They could then use Exchange for mailbox archives and EV for journaling.

    We are seeing an increasing number of requests for our tool that automates the process of restoring items back to user’s mailboxes from Enterprise Vault either before or after they migrate their mailboxes to Exchange 2010.


    Archive Accelerator Restore

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