Exchange Server 2010 has built-in archiving features to help manage user mailbox sizes.  The Personal Archive is essentially a second mailbox assigned to the user.  Mailbox content is then archived manually, via rules, or using Retention Policies.

The Exchange 2010 archive mailbox can be located in the same mailbox database as the user’s primary mailbox, however Exchange Server 2010 SP1 added the option to store the archive mailbox in a different mailbox database.

There are several benefits to locating personal archive mailboxes in a dedicated archive mailbox database.

  • Maintain smaller mailbox databases for primary user mailboxes, allowing for faster backup and recovery of the more important mailbox data
  • Exclude archive mailboxes from Database Availability Group replication
  • Use a different backup schedule for archive mailbox data
  • Consolidate archive mailbox storage to a single database or single Mailbox server
  • Store archive mailbox databases on separate storage

Although some people might think that archive mailboxes can be stored on cheaper, slower storage, remember that Outlook clients do not cache the archive mailbox and so the I/O load on the archive database could potentially be very high if it is being accessed by a lot of users simultaneously.

Creating an Exchange Server 2010 Archive Database

To create an archive mailbox database in Exchange Server 2010 start by simply creating a new mailbox database.

Create an Exchange Server 2010 Mailbox Database
Create an Exchange Server 2010 Mailbox Database

Next, use the Exchange Management Shell to disable automatic mailbox provisioning on the new database.

[PS] C:\>Set-MailboxDatabase "Archive Mailboxes" -IsExcludedFromProvisioning $true

This will prevent the mailbox provisioning load balancer from choosing the archive database when creating new user mailboxes.

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for


  1. Shayan

    Hi Paul,
    My archive database is on a dedicated exchange 2019 server out of the main DC. and the backup policy is weekly in this site.
    I want to know how archiving mechanism works. I mean what is the time interval between each archiving cycle and how when can customize it. by changing this value we can transfer intended emails to archive DB based on the backup policy.
    Another question as an alternative solution, can we have multiple archive mailbox per user to separate the archived mails based on the date?
    Thank you

  2. EXCUgti


    I’m looking for a reason NOT to have a designated archive database. I want my archive data to be part of the DAG, part of my normal backup schedule etc.

    The only real reason to have a designated archive database would be to maintain smaller mailbox databases to facilitate faster backup and recovery. If though all my underlying storage is the same (capacity, speed, RAID etc.) – is this still valid?

    e.g. I create 5 equal sized databases 100GB each – 1 per drive. Regardless of how I distribute the mailboxes / archives I will be maintaining similar sized databases…


    My mailbox / archive size ratio is 1GB / 4GB. If I was to designate archive databases I would have:
    •MBXDB1 – 100 User Mailboxes (100GB)
    •ARCDB1 – 25 archive mailboxes (100GB)
    •ARCDB2 – 25 archive mailboxes (100GB)
    •ARCDB3 – 25 archive mailboxes (100GB)
    •ARCDB4 – 25 archive mailboxes (100GB)

    This (to me) is the same as not having designated archive databases:
    •MBXDB1 – 20 User Mailboxes (20GB) + 20 archives (80GB) = 100GB
    •MBXDB2 – 20 User Mailboxes (20GB) + 20 archives (80GB) = 100GB
    •MBXDB3 – 20 User Mailboxes (20GB) + 20 archives (80GB) = 100GB
    •MBXDB4 – 20 User Mailboxes (20GB) + 20 archives (80GB) = 100GB
    •MBXDB5 – 20 User Mailboxes (20GB) + 20 archives (80GB) = 100GB

    In this case would you still advise a designated archive database for any other reasons?

      1. Frindel Guillaume


        What is the current recommendation for archive location with Exchange 2016?
        Last post told:

        “These days the recommended practice is to just co-locate the archive mailbox with the primary mailbox.”

        I’m using the storagecalc 9.1 and there is no option to define:
        – in or out the user database storage
        – exclude the archive database of the replication


  3. Zain

    Hi Paul,
    We have local PST files setup for all employees, with only 500MB quota for OST and then emails moved to their local PSTs. But now we have configured separate storage for online archiving. And want to provide around 25 GB per user for online archive. What best configuration we should follow. Like emails older that month or two moved to archive DB and local PST setup eliminates.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      I don’t understand your question. Sounds like you’ve got your requirements all worked out.

  4. Anthony Maw

    Suggest small detail omitted in the above illustration: In Exchange Management Console the “New Mailbox Database” screen is found by right-clicking the Mailbox node under Organization Configuration.

  5. Melo Paúnde

    Im using, an Exchange Server 2010 Microsoft Corporation Version: 14.03.0123.003

    Thanks in advance

  6. Melo Paúnde

    Can i create a local Archive, i mean Archive on user computer using Exchange console or it can only be done on the User Outlook?

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      That would be an Outlook setting. User can configure it or you can do it using Group Policy. It creates a PST file on the user’s computer so I really don’t recommend it. PST files are bad.

  7. Abecedar

    I would like to know if you can have multiple archive databases (on different servers) under the same DAG. If possible, what are the implications?
    Thank you

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      An “archive database” is the same as any other mailbox database except it is excluded from automatic mailbox provisioning as demonstrated above.

      There’s no risks or implications to having more than one.

  8. Darrell Q

    Hello Paul,
    I’m looking into this for our small organization right now, to help with our space management issues.
    We have a 2 member dag, with 5 250GB databases replicated between the 2. Approximately 600 mailboxes between the works.
    Could we simply create 1 big archive DB, say 3 TB, and replicated between the 2 DAG members?
    Basically, we have access to a bunch of disk, and want to get our mailboxes back to a more uniform size of 1.5 GB or so. With the excess being auto archived to the archive DB.

  9. Nicole

    Hi Paul,
    I’m wondering if it is possible to add another exchange server with only the mailbox role just for archive databases without having to create a DAG? Our current environment is one exchange server (SP3) with all roles. I can’t find any info about adding another server and not having it be part of a DAG.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Yes, you can have as many standalone mailbox servers as you like. Just install the mailbox role on its own. There’s no requirement to create a DAG to have multiple mailbox servers.

      The only requirement is that it must be in an AD Site where at least one CAS and HT server also exist.

  10. Doug

    Why would you not want an archive mailbox database to be part of a DAG? Are there operational problems with doing that? I would have thought a DAG would offer resiliency?

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Thats a business/technical decision for you. Some customers may not require HA for archived email.

      Others may choose to include it in the DAG but have fewer copies, eg 4 copies for primary mailbox databases, but only 2 copies for archive mailbox databases.

      The point being, having a separate database dedicated for archive mailboxes gives you that flexibility if required.

      1. Doug

        Thanks Paul. I was worried that you couldn’t have them as part of a DAG! It’s nice having them in a seperate database for the reasons you mention. Nothing worse than working late trying to move massive mailboxes!!

  11. Chris Wightman

    This worked perfectly, also thanks for the “disable automatic mailbox provisioning on the new database” reminder.

  12. Ray Bohanna

    Thank you this was very helpful.

  13. Casey Teague

    You have a typo.

    ■Mantain smaller mailbox

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