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.

How can I get the AutoArchive feature in Outlook?

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

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

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

Exchange with Online Archive

Online Archive buttonExchange 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 or even via a browser when accessing your mailbox via Outlook on the Web (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.

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

Automatic archiving via Archive Policies

Instead, with an Online Archive, 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
  • Manage Rules & Alerts-> Action: apply retention 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. 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;

  • File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…-> tab: Data Files-> Add…

AutoArchive has been disabled by Group Policy

Group Policy Editor buttonAnother 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
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