The Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center, located about an hour south of Seattle, is focused on agricultural research and related areas. This operation of WSU runs Microsoft Exchange and was experiencing some problems with users losing e-mail and, in some cases, losing entire mailboxes. Restoring e-mail and mailboxes was a very disruptive and time-consuming task for the IT department, since to do so the Exchange Server needed to come offline, back-up tapes had to be loaded and the missing information retrieved through a very inconvenient and laborious process.In mid-2005, this branch of WSU evaluated Mimosa Systems' NearPoint, an e-mail management system designed to help organizations better manage their Exchange environment. Specifically, NearPoint provides a number of capabilities, including policy-based archival of e-mail, end-user access to recovery tools so individuals can restore missing or deleted e-mail themselves, disaster recovery and other functions.Although NearPoint has been operating for less than two months at this operation of WSU, a senior manager with whom I spoke is very pleased so far. The archive has permitted a reduction in the size of the overall Exchange database. Further, the IT manager has created some general groups among her users based on the length of time they need to preserve e-mail, allowing users to define how long they want e-mail to be retained. Plus, users can go back as far as they want in the archive to recover old e-mail - before, if the e-mail they wanted to recover was older than 30 days, they were pretty much out of luck.What tools like NearPoint illustrate is the critical need for archiving and related capabilities in most organizations. While much of the focus on archiving has been on regulatory compliance to satisfy demands of the Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, the real 'meat-and-potatoes' of archiving focuses on the much less sexy, but much more frequent, requirement to recover individual users' missing e-mails and to simply manage Exchange more efficiently. I believe this is where archiving can really shine in most organizations.I'd like to get your thoughts on the problems associated with helping users to recover their old e-mails and similar problems - please drop me a line with your thoughts at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.