Choose an e-mail and messaging records management strategy (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2012-06-05

Use the information in this article to plan a solution for managing messages as records in your organization, specifically when your organization uses both Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.

Messages are content that users send from messaging applications such as Outlook. Message types include e-mails, meetings, tasks, notes, journals, contacts, instant messages, voice mails, faxes, posts, and RSS feed items. Like other kinds of content, messages often contain important information and they are a key consideration in an overall records management implementation.

This article contains an overview and comparison of the records management functionality available in Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 to help you choose a management solution for messages if your organization uses both products. If you use a product other than Exchange Server 2010, you can still use this article to understand the advantages of using SharePoint Server 2010 to manage messages as records, and compare these capabilities with your product to make a choice. It does not contain general information about records management or in-depth information about records management approaches for either product, nor does it provide the specific procedures to implement a solution.

Before you choose a records management solution for messages, complete your file plan and determine what kind of messages to keep as records. For more information, see Records management overview (SharePoint Server 2010) and Create a file plan to manage records in SharePoint Server 2010.

In this article:

Both Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 provide records management capabilities that are specific to the types of content that each product is optimized for. Use the information in this section as an overview of the functionality in each product, and follow the links for more in-depth information.

Messaging records management (MRM) is the records management technology in Exchange Server 2010. In MRM, there are the following two approaches to managing messages as records:

  • Retention tags: An administrator creates retention tags and links those tags to a retention policy. The administrator also configures a default retention policy that applies to untagged messages. Users can tag their messages and folders, and use rules to apply retention policies that define how messages are handled as records. This is a user-centric approach that enables end-users to tag and store content based on their individual needs. For more information, see Understanding Retention Tags and Retention Policies (

  • Managed folders: An administrator creates managed folders and links them to a managed folder mailbox policy. Users can then organize their messages in those managed folders to apply the desired policy. This is an administrator-centric approach that enables the organization to define specific rules for classifying content that end-users must follow. For more information, see Understanding Managed Folders (

For more information about Exchange Server 2010 MRM, see Understanding Messaging Records Management (

You can use SharePoint Server 2010 to manage broad types of content, including messages, as records. In SharePoint Server 2010, there are two approaches to managing records: in a records archive or in place with other content. Whether you use the records archive, an in-place approach, or a hybrid approach for messages depends on your overall records management strategy and implementation. For more information about how to determine which approach to use, see Using a records archive versus managing records in place (SharePoint Server 2010).

To manage message records in SharePoint Server, you have to move or copy messages from Exchange Server to SharePoint Server. There are third-party solutions available that provide this functionality.

When you create a Records Center in SharePoint Server 2010, the E-mail Integration with Content Organizer feature is included only for legacy Exchange Server 2007 deployments that support journaling mail to SharePoint Server. Exchange Server 2010 no longer supports this functionality. Directly sending mail to the content organizer is not supported.

The main advantage of SharePoint Server 2010 records management over Exchange Server 2010 messaging records management is that the SharePoint Server enables broad records management of content while Exchange Server is specific to messaging records management. Additionally, by using SharePoint Server, you can use other rich SharePoint Server functionality such as collaboration and document management for messages.

If you must have a message archive solution that provides retention management for messages in your organization, Exchange functionality might be all that you need. However, if you have additional needs for your messages, SharePoint Server can provide useful functionality for your messages in addition to other content. Consider SharePoint Server in the following situations:

  • You prefer to manage messages in context with other content for completeness or to use collaboration, metadata, workflow, and search capabilities.

  • You must manage message records together with other content records as part of a centrally-managed file plan that defines metadata, workflow, and sophisticated retention requirements.

Review the considerations in the following table to determine whether Exchange Server 2010 MRM or SharePoint Server 2010 records management fits the needs of your organization. If you use a product other than Exchange Server 2010, you can still use the information about SharePoint Server 2010 to compare considerations with your product.


Consideration Exchange Server 2010 SharePoint Server 2010

Content management needs

Message records do not require SharePoint Server 2010 functionality in your organization.

It is important that users in your organization be able to use SharePoint Server 2010 features such as content types, multistage retention policies, and workflows with content that originates as messages.

Purpose for managing messages as records

You want or have to manage message records separately from other content in your organization.

You want or have to manage message records together with other kinds of content in your organization, especially when message context is related to other content that is maintained as records.

Scope of retention policy

Retention policies in your organization apply widely across message types.

You have sophisticated retention policies that are driven by advanced metadata models defined in SharePoint Server and cannot be replicated in Exchange Server 2010.


Messages do not have to be managed with other content by information workers.

Messages can be managed together with other content by information workers in SharePoint Server.

Scope of holds

Legal holds for messages can be managed separately from other kinds of content.

Legal holds apply to all content types in the same manner.