RSS Feed Content Can Add Volume to Information Stores

Redirect users’ RSS feeds for efficient storage

Executive Summary:

It’s easy for users to create RSS Feeds in Microsoft Office Outlook. Exchange administrators need to plan for the most efficient place to store the RSS Feeds, if you don’t want to use the default, which is to store them in a folder in the user’s mailbox.


Q: Is User RSS Feed Content Adding Volume to My Information Stores?

A: In an Exchange Server environment with clients running default installations of Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, users can add RSS feeds within the Outlook interface. Outlook 2007 can serve as an RSS aggregator that polls subscribed feeds for new content. For more information, see the article “How does Outlook support RSS feeds?” InstantDoc ID 96753. In addition, users can configure an RSS feed to download any attachments or the full HTML for RSS items. By default, these feeds are stored in the RSS Feeds folder in the user’s mailbox when Outlook 2007 is configured using MAPI or Cached Mode. The addition of RSS feeds can increase the growth of the information store because the RSS feeds are pulled from their source through the client and saved in the client’s mailbox. Chances are that your users' RSS feeds aren’t mission-critical data that need to be maintained within Exchange Server. Let your users know that they can redirect existing RSS feeds to a different delivery location by going to Outlook Tools, Account Settings, RSS Feeds. In the RSS Feeds pane, your users can configure the delivery location. In addition, they can use rules to redirect feeds to an alternate delivery location, such as a personal folder (.PST) file instead of the RSS Feeds folder in a user’s mailbox on the Exchange Server.

Moving Default Delivery Location for Existing RSS Feeds
The default delivery location for RSS feeds is the user’s mailbox on Exchange. If operating in Exchange Cached Mode, the content is also synchronized to an .ost file on the local machine. To change the delivery location of existing RSS feeds in Outlook to a new dedicated local PST file, you first need to create a new PST file in Outlook. To do so, go to File, New, Outlook Data File. The New Outlook Data File box provides the option for creating a Unicode PST file or a legacy PST file for Outlook 97-2002, as shown in Figure 1. In Outlook 2007, select Unicode PST option Office Outlook Personal Folder File (.pst). Outlook requires a name and location for the .PST file. I save mine as RSSFeeds.pst in a standard folder such as c:\email\, but the default location will reside within the user’s profile in Windows. Next, in the Create Microsoft Personal Folders box, enter an optional display name for the .PST file as you want it to be displayed in Outlook, and click OK. Figure 2 shows RSS Feeds in the Name field. The new folder called RSS Feeds will now be visible in the Folder View in Outlook 2007, as Figure 3 shows. To change the default delivery location for current RSS feeds in Outlook, go to Tools, Account Settings, and select the RSS Feeds tab. Figure 4 shows some RSS feeds and the default delivery location of the selected feed as the .OST file, which gets synchronized to the Exchange mailbox. Use the Change Folder button to select a delivery location, which will include the PST file you created. Outlook doesn't let RSS content be saved to the root of the PST file hierarchy, so you’ll need to create another folder. This folder can have a name specific to the RSS Feed you’re configuring. Even though Outlook lets you select multiple feeds to configure here, only the first feed will actually be assigned the change. That means each RSS feed must be moved separately. If you have a lot of feeds, then this will be a chore. A change to the delivery location doesn’t automatically include moving existing content to the new location, either. You need to move that content manually as well. All new updates for the feeds you configured will be directed to the new PST.

Configuring the Delivery Location for New RSS Feeds
When adding a new RSS feed in Outlook 2007, the user can select where the delivery location for the feed content should be saved. At this point, an alternate location, such as an existing PST file, can be configured. Configuring delivery location when the RSS feed is first configured avoids having to move the content from the mailbox at a later time. To manually subscribe to a new RSS feed, go to Tools, Account Settings, and select the RSS Feeds tab. Click New, enter the URL for the feed, and click OK. In the RSS Feed Options box, click the Change Folder button to create a dedicated folder for this feed’s content. Figure 5 shows the new folder called BrightHub for this subscription. Content for this feed will go to the BrightHub folder within the PST called RSS Feeds.

Using Outlook Rules to Move RSS Items to Alternate Delivery Location
Although changing the default delivery location might be a better way of controlling where RSS feed content is stored, users can also engage Outlook rules to manipulate RSS feed traffic. Outlook has two rule conditions for RSS—either From any RSS Feed or From RSS Feeds with <specific text> in the title, which can be used to apply actions. Figure 6 shows an Outlook rule that moves content From any RSS Feed to the RSS Feeds folder. This rule as displayed won't separate RSS content into feed subfolders, but rather will store all RSS feed items in the RSS Feeds folder. This is a client-side only rule because it’s Outlook, not Exchange Server, that polls and retrieves content from RSS sources. Users can create views of the folder content with presentation tools such as custom filters or search folders.

Because the RSS feed content is now stored locally on the client workstation in a PST file, you need to consider how this content will be backed up. This content still exists at the source sites where the RSS feeds are pulled from, so backing up the PST file of feed content is up to the user. Note that it’s not always easy to identify and re-subscribe to all the RSS feeds in Outlook. You can export a list of RSS feeds to an OPML file using File, Import and Export, and selecting Export RSS Feeds to an OPML File. Save the OPML file as a backup to use to recreate the subscriptions if needed.

RSS Storage
Exchange Server storage use is still a concern for Exchange administrators. The addition of RSS feeds to Outlook 2007 creates a new source of Outlook content that users might store within their mailbox in default deployments. Microsoft even makes it easy to find some feeds related to Office products, MSN, or a few select partners through the RSS Feed folder home page at, shown in Figure 7. If users are encouraged to use non-critical RSS Feeds through Outlook, administrators can configure Outlook to deliver those feeds to a local PST file to eliminate the need for server storage for them.

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