PST Files…how are they still in use?

PST Files, hate them! I’m yet to find someone who likes a PST file. They are the last resort for any work I am involved in and I try to avoid them at all costs. And I have been acting like this for well over a decade! However, somehow, they are always there. Like a horror film villain you think has been killed at the end of a movie just for them to come back and cause havoc once again. That is how I see PST files.

I saw a message from the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre that says Microsoft are going to be reducing the versioning available for PST files stored in OneDrive and SharePoint Online. Who stores PST files in Microsoft 365? Surley there are better ways of retaining email available to every organisation?

I am surprised to see that such a message is required in the Action Centre. So i wanted to reiterate what options there are to eliminate PST files:

-Use a cloud-based email service. I would recommend Exchange Online, but I am biased. A cloud-based email service will provide you with larger storage. This would prevent the need to use PST files and would also allow you to import existing PST files directly in to the mailbox. With some licensing in Exchange Online, an archive can be enabled that provides unlimited storage.

-Implement an email retention policy. PST files are used to retain email that cannot be stored in the mailbox. The majority of the time, this email is old. I’ve seen PST files with email going back to early 2000s. Does email need to be retained that long? If not, enforce a policy. Now it is difficult to automate that type of retention with PST Files. However, it may provide IT with the means to delete old PST files that are stored on the network.

-Use a Data Management System (DMS). Most people retain email in retain email in PST files for attachments, or important conversations. If this data needs to be retained, then use a proper DMS to provide the storage. Do not use your mailbox. It is a poor substitute for a proper DMS.

Now I know these recommendations are not easy to implement. However, the benefits outweigh the cons. Getting rid of PSTs must be a priority for everyone. In a world where data is becoming more important, having that data stored in a file that is prone for problems is not the answer.

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