What’s new in the MailVault v3 series?

We’ve been silent on the blog for a while now, but the engine room has been buzzing with activity.

This post breaks our blog-slumber and summarizes the goodness that’s gone into the MailVault v3 series, since the initial v3.0.0 release (in May 2012) up to the current v3.4.0 (July 2013).

v3.0.x

  • New restyled user-interface with usability enhancements
  • Auto-discovery of Organizations and People under the new Directory tab
  • Instant searches from Directory (organization and people listings)
  • New ‘Begins with’ clause in Archive Filters
  • Minor fixes and enhancements

v3.1.x

  • Core libraries updated
  • Minor fixes and enhancements

v3.2.x

  • Overall performance improvements
  • Improved memory management
  • Directory searching and pagination improved
  • Restore via POP3 enhanced to handle picky email clients
  • Forward email enhanced to handle picky email clients
  • Fixed minor UI issue when using Chrome

v3.3.x

  • Core upgrades for increased performance
  • Different locations for indexes and email possible
  • MailVault can now run as a Windows Service
  • Minor fixes and enhancements

v3.4.0

  • Email storage and efficiency tracking
  • Restructured Reports
  • Improved indication for ‘new version availability’
  • Multiple minor fixes and enhancements

We will elaborate in more detail in future posts.

Meanwhile, more useful features are being added to your favorite email archiving solution. In case you have any feedback or suggestions, please get in touch.

MailVault on Windows XP Pro (with Service Pack 3)

MailVault is light enough to run on Microsoft Windows XP Pro to backup and archive email.

However, if you have Service Pack 3 installed, you may face an issue running MailVault, caused due to some missing runtime components, which are required. MailVault will probably install cleanly, but will not load when you try to start it.

This is a known issue and resolving it is trivial.

On your Windows XP Pro (with Service Pack 3) machine:

All should be well.

You may also wish to check out our quickstart instructions for installing and configuring MailVault.

In case you need any further assistance, please get in touch with us.

IMAP Archiving (or Email Archiving for IMAP)

What is IMAP?

IMAP (or IMAP4) stands for Internet Message Access Protocol and allows an email client to access email on a remote mail server. Along with POP3, it is a popular email access and retrieval mechanism.

IMAP was designed basically with the idea of a ‘remote mailbox‘, which means that user’s would be able to leave their email on the server and connect to it from anywhere.

Some of the advantages of IMAP include:

  • Multiple simultaneous connections to a single email box: This means users may share an email box, or a single user may have multiple devices accessing the same box at the same time.
  • Maintaining state of messages on the server side: Has the message been read, replied to or marked for deletion? An IMAP server keeps track of these, so that when you read a mail while accessing the mailbox from your notebook and then later connect using your mobile phone, you will see this mail as already read.
  • Partial message fetch: A user can choose to see just part of a message on demand.
  • Connected and disconnected modes of operation – the connected mode allows for better response for very large messages and mailboxes.
  • Other: There are other features like basic server-side searches, moving email between mailboxes, etc.

With servers becoming more powerful and the proliferation of smart mobile devices (cell phones, tablets, notebooks, etc.), an increasing number of users are using IMAP for everyday email.

IMAP archiving

If you are using an IMAP email account, the chances are that you have a very large mail box. While your service provider may give you a large amount of disk space, sooner or later it will get exhausted. That’s one reason to backup or archive your mail box. Even if you had an unlimited amount of space, it’s still probably a good idea to backup your email – after all it does contain valuable information.

MailVault makes it trivial to backup and archive IMAP email accounts. An organization can centrally store all corporate communications. It can derive further benefit from huge space savings, thanks to the email de-duplication process and compressed storage, which means that even if there are many copies of an email, only one will be retained and stored in a compressed format. Multiple users can access the email and based on privileges, users can only see their own mail, thus ensuring privacy.

MailVault is an easy to use mail archiving software that makes IMAP archiving a breeze.

MailVault on Microsoft Windows Server 2003

You can run MailVault on Windows Server 2003 to backup and archive email.

However, sometimes there is an issue running MailVault on Windows 2003, caused due to some missing runtime components, which are required. MailVault will probably install cleanly, but will not load when you try to start it.

This is a known issue and resolving it is trivial.

On your Windows 2003 server:

All should be well.

You may also wish to check out our quickstart instructions for installing and configuring MailVault.

In case you need any further assistance, please get in touch with us.

Mail Archiving: Why your Organization needs it?

More and more people are becoming aware of ‘email archiving’ practices. Email archiving is the process of using a software application (or service), which normally in conjunction with an email server provides a way to centrally store all of an organizations email communications. It also provides a way to search through the archived email messages quickly and easily.

Email, email and more email…

So why would an organization need mail archiving in the first place?

While there can be numerous reasons for a company to use email archiving, here are four important ones:

1. Loads of email
Regardless of the physical size of an organization, if uses a lot of email for business (and these days who doesn’t) then that email contains a lot of valuable information and must be treated as such.

As the amount of email (and information) grow over time, it can get overwhelming to manage properly. New architectures and methodologies are needed to store, manage, search and use this information. Email archival systems are build for this.

2. Compliance
Companies in various industries, especially those in the financial, healthcare, education, and government fields are faced with the task of handling compliance needs concerning data and email management.

With the amount of email increasing exponentially, it’s getting harder to use older methods effectively to monitory and organize all this data. Email archiving systems are very helpful here.

3. Storage & disk space management
Once again the increasing communications eat away at available disk space. Archiving solutions use techniques like single-instance storage (eliminating duplicate email) and compression to save space.

Additionally, a sophisticated email archiving solution will provide other means for space management. For instance email filters can prevent unnecessary email from getting into the archive in the first place; andretention policies allow the organization to set different lifetimes to different types of email (eg. Newsletters to be retained only for 3 months, etc.)

4. Increasing your IT Productivity
In today’s competitive world, an organizations workforce and especially it’s IT department already have a heavy workload. Worrying about email backup and managing long term email storage justs adds to everyone’s woes. By using email archiving software, an organization can automate the collection and storage of email.

A smart email archiving solution allows your IT team to focus on other operational tasks, lowers IT help desk costs by allowing end users to use self-service and allows you mail server to perform better by taking away email storage responsibilities from it.

It doesn’t matter how small or large your organization may be, chances are, you need email archiving.

Note: For a more end-user oriented and an everyday-centric view point of the benefits of email archiving, do have a look at: The need for email archival.

Picture credit: With thanks to Ramberg Media Images.

Archiving Email from Postfix into MailVault

So you run Postfix and want to have a central backup of all your email. With MailVault, it’s easy.

Let’s assume the following setup:

  • Company domain is example.com
  • Postfix is running on one server
  • MailVault is running on another server

There are two basic approaches to archiving all email from Postfix into MailVault:

  1. Postfix stores a copy of all email into a mailbox and MailVault picks it up periodically (over say POP3), or
  2. Postfix forwards a copy of all email (via SMTP) to MailVault

The former is recommended and outlined below.

Method: Postfix stores, MailVault retrieves.

1. Create mailbox

Create a mailbox with email-id as archive@example.com and ensure that it is available over POP3. MailVault will periodically (default is every 10 minutes) retrieve and delete email from this mailbox.

2. Configure Postfix

Assume the Postfix configuration files are in /etc/postfix.

cd /etc/postfix

Edit main.cf – seach for always_bcc and include the following line:

always_bcc = archive@example.com

Save main.cf and reload Postfix

postfix reload

The archive@example.com email id will now start receiving a copy of each message that is received by the Postfix mail system.

Note:

  • If mail to the BCC address bounces it will be returned to the sender.
  • Automatic BCC recipients are produced only for new mail. To avoid mailer loops, automatic BCC recipients are not generated after Postfix forwards mail internally, or after Postfix generates mail itself.

3. Configure MailVault
Now login to MailVault and add a POP3 mail source, which will retrieve email from the archive@example.com mailbox.

Voila! You now have all your email from Postfix being backed up and archived into MailVault.

How to backup and archive email into MailVault

MailVault can backup and archive email in a number of ways.

It can “pull” mail from corporate mail servers and public mail servers, parse multiple mailbox formats, pick up randomly scattered mail from the filesystem and read messages from selected email clients. MailVault can also accept email “pushed” to it via the SMTP protocol.

In cases where there is no mail server running, the MailVault Agent installed on remote machines enables users to backup email from their email clients into MailVault.

Mail sources in MailVault

For those familiar with email, MailVault’s capabilities include:

  • Support for network oriented protocols like POP3, IMAP and SMTP thus ensuring connectivity with any standard corporate email server (Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, Postfix, Qmail, Sendmail, PostMaster, MDaemon, VPOP3, etc.)
  • Support for filesystem based mail sources like Unix mbox, Maildir, regular directories with individual email files (.eml / standard RFC 822 format)
  • Convenient wrappers for public email proividers like GMail, Yahoo, Rediffmail
  • Can read email from email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail and Thunderbird
Types of Mail Sources

Inspite of all this power and flexibility, using MailVault is quite simple. Let’s look at setting up a mail source.

Configuring a mail source (Generic steps)

For the MailVault administrator, setting up a mail source simply boils down to the following generic steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Mail Sources
  2. To add a new mail source, click “Add new”
  3. From the drop down list, choose a mail source and press “Create”
  4. Configure the mail source specific settings
  5. Press Test to check if the settings are correct
  6. If all is well, press Save

That’s it. MailVault now begins the backup and archive process.

Configuring a POP3 mail source

Most email servers support copying or journaling all email that flows through them into a mailbox, which is POP3 enabled. MailVault can then periodically pickup email from this ‘archive’ mailbox using the POP3 protocol. This makes the POP3 mail source one of the most popular and recommended ways of using MailVault with your mail server. Let’s see how a POP3mail source is configured.

  • Go to Settings > Mail Sources
  • Click on Add new
  • Choose POP3 from the drop down
Configuring a POP3 mail source

With reference to the image above:

  1. Make the name an easy identifier (espcially if you are going to use multiple mail sources)
  2. Ensure the mail source is enabled (default is ON)
  3. We’d like to delete messages from the POP3 box once retrieved into MailVault
  4. Poll the mail source every 10 minutes
  5. Enter the POP3 mailbox username
  6. Enter the POP3 mailbox password
  7. Provide the host name
  8. Check the port is correct (default is 110)

As a good practice, at this point we recommend highly that you press the Test button. Ensure that you get a “Connection successful” message and then save the mail source.

Get a cup of coffee, sit back and relax while MailVault archives your email… 🙂

Restoring Email from the MailVault archive

A good archiving solution does a good job of backing up your email. An excellent archiving solution does an even better job in letting you retrieve and restore your email.

Let’s show you why MailVault is excellent! 🙂

So you have millions of messages in your MailVault archive. There are basically two ways to retrieve the messages you are interested in.

One-off email retrieval

For one-off information search requirements, you can use the blazingly fast search to locate the message(s) you want. These can then be viewed or forwarded as explained in earlier posts. Being able to retrieve email from within search results can be a very useful feature indeed.

Restoring a user’s email

Now let’s say a user’s email box gets corrupted or his hard disk crashes and he needs his email to be restored. We can restore email for any user, having a single or multiple email ids, over any time range and via multiple methods.

Let’s assume the MailVault administrator is performing the restore. Here’s how easy it is:

  1. Select the user
  2. Choose the user’s email ids that need to be included in the restore
  3. Choose a time range or simply select ‘All mail’
  4. Select how you want the email to be restored

Hit the Restore button and MailVault will do a quick computation and inform you how many messages will be restored. This number is based on the criteria you selected in steps 1-3. You may now choose to continue with the restore by selecting the email restore mode or you could safely abort the restore at this point (if you just wanted to see how many messages would be restored, for instance).

Understanding email restore modes

For complete flexibility, MailVault supports multiple restore methods:

1. Download as .eml files (in a single zipped file)

In this mode the restored email is basically one message per file (each file has a .eml extension), which are all compressed and zipped together into a single file downloadable from the browser itself.

This mode is useful if you need to submit the mail as part of an audit exercise to someone, or when you want the email in a mail-client neutral format. This is ideally suited for a relatively small number of messages.

2. Forward as original (via your mail server)

In this mode the email to be restored is sent back to the user’s primary email address via your corporate email server. The user retrieves email into his email client as usual. The mail is “forwarded as original”, meaning that the orginal sender and date information is preserved – which means the user can apply filters to sort the incoming mail in his email client.

This method is very useful for restoring a remote user’s email (especially if the remote users have no direct access to MailVault). This mode can be used to restore a large number of messages. However keep in mind that if the restore job is large, your mail server will be processing a lot of ‘restored messages’ in addition to it’s regular workload. Hence, for large restore jobs it may be prudent to start the restore at times when the mail server loads are relatively low (like outside work hours).

3. Via POP3 restore service

In this mode the email is restored from MailVault directly into the user’s email client using the POP3 protocol. The user points his email client at MailVault using his MailVault username and password and pulls his mail out. As usual, mail client filters can sort the incoming mail into different folders.

In addition to being able to handle a large amount of email, this mode causes no extra traffic or load on the corporate mail server.

Other settings

Some of the modes have optional alert options wherein MailVault can send out alerts when the restore process is ready. Additionally, some modes support restoring to a different email id than that of the user whose mail is being restored. These are primarily useful for monitoring and audit purposes.

Self service for end users

End user’s can restore email for themselves. The only difference is that they don’t have the option of selecting a user. They can only choose from their own email ids, the time period and the restore mode.

Here’s hoping you never lose your email. But if you do, relax and let MailVault help get you up and running. Easily and speedily!

User Management in MailVault

Generally speaking, user administration tasks can be time consuming, dull and often a waste of your technical administrator’s time. User management in MailVault is designed to change that.

A bunch of convenience features make life easy for the administrators and end-user self-service options means that your user’s can get things done, without waiting for a busy administrator to attend to them.

Understanding user roles
There are three types of users in MailVault. A user type, technically known as “Role” defines privileges and what a user is able to do in the MailVault system. There are three types of roles:

  1. User
  2. Reviewer
  3. Admin

The User role is what most end-users will be. Their actions are restricted to only their own mail,  i.e. email in which they are either a sender or recipient. They can search through their email, forward and even restore it – all without admin intervention.

The Reviewer role can do everything that a User can, with the additional privilege of being able to search through all email in the MailVault archive. This role is primarily meant for personnel with email auditing responsibilities.

The Admin role can of course do everything that User and Reviewer can – additionally it allows for administration of MailVault.

Adding users

Users can be added singly or in bulk.

While adding a single user, the admin can specify the password in the conventional manual style or simply choose the Auto option to have MailVault send a self-activation email to the user. End of story. Each user must have a primary email id that is unique across all other users. Additionally, users may also have optional secondary email ids.

Bulk users can be imported into MailVault from various sources including CSV files, Active Directory and LDAP. MailVault can also import user’s directly from the popular PostMaster email server.

Welcome mail
An option welcome mail can be sent to user’s automatically when they are added to MailVault. This mail can carry a custom message and is a perfect way to inform employees about corporate email archiving policies, etc.

User list
The user list allows for listing, searching and modifying users. You can also export all MailVault users in a CSV format for use elsewhere.

And those are the basics of user management in MailVault.

Back up old, scattered Email into MailVault

When setting up email archiving for an organization, the recommended practice is to configure the mailserver to keep a copy of all email flowing through it into an “archive” account. MailVault picks up all the email from this account by using say, the POP3 protocol and does it’s archiving magic, after which the mail is deleted from the archive or journal account. As an ongoing process, this is a great setup since the settings are required to be just once, centrally and without any end-user changes.

However, we often hear questions like:

  • What can do I do about old email?
  • What can I do about the email of many years in my mail client?
  • Can I do anything about the old PST back-ups I have lying around?

How do I backup ALL my old email into MailVault?

To address this we present to you the MailVault Agent!

The MailVault Agent (MVA) is a little application that can transfer email from an email client into MailVault. The end-user installs the MVA on his or her computer, points it to the email client and specifies the folders from which the email needs to be transferred to MailVault.

If all goes well, the end result is that all the old email of all your users will be safely backed up into MailVault.With all the benefits of deduplication, compression and a highly searchable central storage.

After this one-shot import, you may uninstall the MailVault agent from the end users computers and continue with your mailserver based email archiving. On the other hand, if you don’t run a mail server in-house or can’t setup an email archival (journaling) account on your mailserver, you could continue to use the MVA to back up all users email into MailVault.

Currently, the MailVault Agent is available for MS Windows  only. It supports relatively recent versions of Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail.

The MailVault Agent is available for download from the download section. Enjoy!:)

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