I work for a government agency. We’re required to comply with an open-records law that mandates long-term retention for email. This is a problem because we can't afford to keep deleted items around forever in the dumpster. What are the best practices?

A. The best practice is to avoid this kind of requirement. I'm not kidding—the overhead of making your Exchange Server system compliant with these laws is pretty serious. Your best bet is to investigate a system such as Compaq's Enterprise Vault or CommVault’s CommVault line of products. These products can store every email message ever generated (usually on optical media) and keep an up-to-date index so that you can find even very old messages. As you might expect, though, the products are expensive and complicated. Happy hunting!

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