AutoArchive feature is missing

My mailbox is getting full and I wanted to archive some of my older emails with AutoArchive. However, it looks like I don’t have this feature available in Outlook at all.

A search revealed that update KB2412171 for Outlook 2007 might be to blame here, but I don’t have that installed as I use Outlook 2010.

How can I get the AutoArchive feature in Outlook?

If the AutoArchive function in missing in Outlook, then there are 2 likely causes;

  • You are using an Exchange 2010 account with Online Archive enabled.
  • The feature has been disabled by your administrator as a corporate policy.

Note 1: If you are using Outlook 2007, then update KB2412171 could indeed be an issue if you still have the old version (from December 2010) installed. Don’t uninstall this update but run Microsoft Update to install the latest updates for Office 2007; they also include a fix for the Issues with Outlook 2007 after applying KB2412171.

Note 2: If AutoArchive is not working as expected see; AutoArchive not working

Exchange 2010 with Online Archive

Exchange mailbox with Online Archive.
Exchange mailbox with Online Archive.

Exchange 2010 has a feature called “Online Archive” which allows for server-side archiving. This means that you will be archiving to a special Exchange mailbox instead of to a (local) pst-file.

The benefit for you in this, is that you can have your archive available on different computers running Outlook 2007/2010 or even via a browser when accessing your mailbox via OWA (Outlook Web App). If you are using Outlook 2003 or earlier, you can only access your online archive via OWA.

The result of having this enabled for your account is that the AutoArchive and the manual Archive features will no longer be available to you in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007 (with update KB2412171 or later installed).

Automatic archiving via Archive Policies

Instead, in Outlook 2010, you’ll be getting access to mailbox “Archive Policy” features in the following locations;

  • Home tab-> Assign Policy
  • Right click menu on a message-> Assign Policy
  • Right click on a folder-> Properties-> tab Policy

This allows you to assign an archive policy to an entire folder or a specific item, and the affected items will automatically be moved to the Online Archive when their time comes. If you are using Outlook 2007 or earlier, you can set the same policies via OWA.

Exchange Online Archive Policy options in the Ribbon.
Exchange Online Archive Policy options in the Ribbon.

Note: The “Archive Policy” features are only available for the folders and folder types which fall within the archive management set by your Exchange administrator. This also includes the available policies (Retention Policies) and their names (Retention Policy Tags).

Manual archiving

Of course, at all times, you can also manually move messages or folders from your main mailbox to your On-line Archive mailbox. Additionally, unless creating pst-files has been disabled in your environment, you can manually create a pst-file and move items to it for local archiving. You can create a new pst-file in the following way;

  • Outlook 2007 and previous
    File-> New-> Outlook Data File…
  • Outlook 2010
    New Items-> More Items-> Outlook Data File…

AutoArchive has been disabled by Group Policy

Another likely reason for the AutoArchive features to go missing is that they have been disabled by your corporate administrator via Group Policy. This is quite common practice to prevent mailbox data to become spread around various computers across the network in pst-files.

Disabling this feature often goes hand in hand with disabling the use of pst-files in general. If this is the case for you, ask your mail administrator or your manager where you should archive your data and how long things should be kept.

AutoArchive and pst-creation policies

Administrators can set the following Group Policies to disable AutoArchive and prevent the creation of pst-files;

  • Outlook Options-> Other-> AutoArchive-> AutoArchive Settings
  • Outlook Options-> Other-> AutoArchive-> Disable File|Archive
  • Miscellaneous-> PST Settings-> Prevent users from adding new content to existing PST files
  • Miscellaneous-> PST Settings-> Prevent users from adding PSTs to Outlook profiles and/or prevent using Sharing-Exclusive PSTs

Note: In the policy templates for Outlook 2007, the “Outlook Options” section is called “Tools | Options…”.