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!:)

Using search results

Once you have the search results in front of you, what next?

Well view the message(s) and confirm that you have indeed located the mail you want. If you just needed to lookup some information, then you are done. However, if you want to send the mail to yourself or someone else, then read on.

At the bottom of the search page, a status section shows the number of matches to your query as well as the number of messages you have selected (by clicking on the check box next to each message summary). You can now forward the selected email in the following two ways:

1. Forward

  • Click the Forward button and in the displayed section:
  • Choose a user from the drop-down list or specify an email address to forward to.
  • Enter a subject.
  • Use the “Zip it” option to compress and reduce the size of the mail you are forwarding.
  • Send the mail by clicking forward.
  • The recipient receives mail from the MailVault admin’s email id as specified in Settings > Outbound email.

2. Forward as original

This works just like forward, except:

  • There is no “Zip it” option and the selected messages are sent out individually.
  • MailVault sends the mail to the recipient, while maintaining the orginal sender information in the email. The recipient is able to simply hit reply to respond to the original sender, making this an ideal way to restore a message or two deleted by mistake.

While an administrator is allowed to forward email to any user or email id, non-admin users have that flexibility only if they are allowed to (Settings > Core >Mail forwarding). The default setting allows non-admin users to be able to forward and forward as original only to themselves.

Delete (admin only)
An administrator is able to delete selected messages, making it useful to remove junk or other messages (like stuff from mailing lists, etc.) that may have made their way into the archive.

Do tell us if there are other ways in which you’d like to use your search results.

Searching through the MailVault email archive

Our approach to MailVault’s search functionality is a little like that of Google Search. Keep it simple and return relevant results.

Most times it should “just work”. When you need to consciously slice, dice and zoom in through the clutter, the following information and hints will help you to make the most of MailVault’s simple search.

Where do we search?

In the email headers (sender, receivers, subject, date), the entire mail body and in the content of some types of attachments (doc, pdf, html).

Search terms

The search query can be made up of single words, multiple words and phrases. Additionally these can be combined using special operators. This is better explained using a few examples.

Exact matches

Search: mail
Will match documents containing the exact word “mail” (not mails, mailing, mailvault, etc.).

Matching any of the terms

Search: mail archive
Will match documents containing the word “mail” OR the word “archive”.

Keep in mind that when we enter multiple words separated by spaces, the default behavior is to match documents that contain any of the words.

Matching all terms

Search: mail AND archive
Will match documents containing the word “mail” AND the word “archive”.

Pattern matching

By default, wildcard pattern matching does not take place. You must explicitly use the characters ? or * to match exactly a single character, or zero or more characters respectively.

Search: mail*

Matches messages containing mail, mails, mailing, mailvault, etc.

Search: mail?

This will match mail and mails, but will not match mailing and mailvault.

Please note that you cannot use ? or * as the first character of any word in your search query. Doing so, will result in an“invalid query syntax” message.

Negating a term

Search: NOT microsoft
Using NOT negates the match. So, NOT microsoft would match all email not containing the word microsoft.

Search: archiv* NOT mailvault

To locate messages that talk about email archiving and don’t mention MailVault (although why would you? 🙂

Matching phrases

Search: “John Doe
This would match all mail containing the phrase “John Doe”. You can search for phrases, by enclosing the search term within double quotes.

Grouping and building complex queries

Sometimes you may need to fine-tune your query to really zoom in on some information. You could use a combination of the tips above, as well as grouping to form a more complex query. Grouping is done using parenthesis.

Search: (John OR Jane) AND (archiv* NOT mailvault)

Something like this could be used to search for messages that must contain either John or Jane and talk of archiving, but not MailVault.

Using saved searches

If you need to run the same complex searches often, it will soon get tedious to keep typing out long queries. That’s where “Save search” comes in. Once you have fine-tuned your search and gotten the results you want, you can say “Save search”, give it a name and the next time around access it from “My searches”, right next to the search box.

Note: The search terms themselves are case-insensitive (apple, Apple, APPLE will all produce the same results), but the logical operators are case sensitive. You must use OR, AND, NOT in upper-case.

For the occasional times, that you may need to use additional criteria and filters, head over to the “Advanced search” page and use the point and click functionality to build your search query.

May you find the information you seek!

First steps after installing MailVault

There is a book that goes by the name of “What to say, after saying Hello” (or something like that!). A WHOLE BOOK? I guess human beings are complex creatures.

Fortunately, interacting with MailVault isn’t anywhere near as complex. Inspite of all it’s power and flexibility, it is simple to use. For a new setup, on-screen instructions and hints guide through the few basic steps required to get going.

Here is the 1-2-3-4 of configuring MailVault once you’ve installed it.

Logging in

The preset username and password for MailVault is “admin” and “password”. A notice on the login page displays these details and will stay visible on the login page until the admin password is changed.

MailVault Login Screen

Needless to say, it is strongly recommended to change the admin password at the earliest.

Basic configuration

On logging in, the main page (which happens to be the Search page) of the application is displayed. Obviously there is no point in executing a Search right now… 🙂

In the area under the search box, are listed the recommended steps for completing the basic configuration. As you complete each one, the line turns from blue to grey.

MailVault Basic Configuration

Let’s take them in order:

1. Admin’s email id

Specify a valid email-id for the administrator. This will be used as the sender email-id for mail originating from MailVault (alerts, search result forwarding, etc.). Additionally, in case you forget your password, this will be needed to reset your password.

To set the email id, go to Users > User list and edit the Administrator entry.

2. SMTP relay server

MailVault needs a SMTP server through which it can relay mail. Normally this will be your corporate email server.

To set this, go to Settings > Outbound email and fill the relevant information.

3. Your domains

These are used to identify your corporate email from other external mail and can be set at Settings > Core > My domains.

4. Mail sources

MailVault acquires mail using mail sources. Many types of mail sources are supported, but the most commonly used one is POP3.

Head over to Settings > Mail Sources > Retrieve mail from and click on “Add new”.

Once all of these items are configured, MailVault will no longer display these hints on the main Search page.

Basically that’s it. MailVault will now begin the process of archiving your email.

Other stuff

Now while MailVault does it’s stuff you can go ahead and do other things – like adding some users. Feel free to wander through the various settings and check out the available options. If you don’t feel the need to tinker or customize, no worries – most settings in MailVault have sane default values.

All Settings pages have a “guidelines area” on the right hand side which informs you about the purpose of the page’s settings. Additionally, every setting section on a page has it’s own little “help line” at it’s bottom.

Finally, if you really need to you, can request assistance online at the MailVault site; but we assure you, you won’t need an entire book on what to do after installing MailVault! 🙂

Feel free to tell us about things you liked, didn’t like and how we can make your MailVault experience even better…

Installing MailVault

Note: For now, these instructions are for Microsoft Windows platforms only.

Installing and setting up MailVault is easy.

1. Download

Download MailVault and save the installable in an appropriate location on your disk.

2. Install

Double-click the installable to start the installation process. Follow the instructions to complete the installation and to create a shortcut MailVault icon on the desktop. The default installation location isC:\Program Files\DigitalGlue\MailVault.

3. Initial configuration

Start MailVault by double-clicking it’s shortcut icon. On it’s first startup, MailVault needs two pieces of information to be confirmed by you:

  1. The port on which to run it’s webserver (default is 8080)
  2. The location of your mail archive, logs, and other dynamic data (default is under the installed location)
Initial Settings for MailVault

Our advice would be to keep the archive location away from and out of the program installation location – preferably on a separate partition, where there is enough space to hold all the mail you plan to archive.

Once these settings are confirmed, MailVault starts up into normal operation. Simple on-screen hints are available to assist you in completing the basic recommended configuration.

MailVault is now running in demo mode (as indicated on the upper right corner of your screen). In demo mode, more or less all the functionality is available – the limitations being that you will be able to create only two other users and MailVault will archive up to 1000 messages only.

4. License deployment

If you have a license file (evaluation or commercial) – normally emailed to you separately – you can deploy it by copying it into the configuration folder under the MailVault location (in this example under C:\Program Files\DigitalGlue\MailVault\config). You must ensure that the license file is named license.

Restart MailVault. The Demo version on the top right corner of your browser, should now be replaced by your company name.

Test, play, enjoy!

The need for email archival

Corporate email communication continues to grow.

Over the years, email has morphed from a simple and speedy means of communication into a sort of de facto mechanism for just about anything: conversing, exchanging data, managing to-do lists and delegated tasks amongst a whole lot of other things.

Often it is not the appropriate tool for the job, but the fact of the matter is that today email serves as a carrier for:

  • simple dialogue, elaborate discussions
  • data and information
  • presentations, negotiations, sales & strategic deals
  • technical support, customer service
  • mailing lists and so on…

Any which way you look at it, email is valuable!

As the volume of email goes up, how is a corporate supposed to deal with the torrents of email that it consumes and generates daily?

To make things more interesting, consider the following:

  • When an employee leaves, does the organization have convenient access to the employee’s email?
  • When a hard disk crashes or the laptop is stolen, can you quickly and easily regenerate a copy of all email for the employee in question?
  • What happens if a recipient inadvertently deletes an important message (happened with a friend recently) and the sender was unreachable?
  • Can you find and retrieve information from an email exchange that took place a year ago? Two years ago? Five years ago? How easily can you do that? What if you were not part of the original mail exchange?
  • What happens when legislation and law (or your own email policy) requires that you store copies of all email communication for a specified period of time?

These are but a few scenarios of possibly many others that arise in the realm of corporate email usage.

To address these challenges and more, we offer you MailVault.

MailVault is meant to help an organization archive and manage it’s email effectively, productively and securely – while being light, simple to integrate and very user-friendly.

Check out the overview, have a look at it’s current features or download and take it for a spin. We hope you find MailVault as useful as we wish it to be.

Do tell us if there are other needs, scenarios or challenges that you face and would like to see addressed.

Introducing MailVault

MailVault is a standalone email archival product, compatible with any standards-based email server.

It offers immediate benefits to organizations aware of and interested in:

  1. Security & compliance
  2. Corporate messaging surveillance
  3. An easy to use backup and restore mechanism for the entire organization’s email

Hello, world… 🙂