The 7 Dangers of PST Files

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The 7 dangers of PST Files

PST FILES PRESENT A HIGH SECURITY RISK

PST Files present a high security risk PST files are highly portable; they can be disconnected from Outlook and copied or moved to another Outlook client very easily.
They can be password protected, although a simple search on the internet will find any number of programs that can crack these passwords.  This puts end user data and intellectual property data at high risk.
They can be seen as a great way of moving email data between people and/or organizations quickly.

 

PST FILES ARE UNRELIABLE AND PLACE PRESSURE ON IT SUPPORT

Unreliability of PST files puts pressure on IT Support PSTs were never designed to hold large amounts of email data yet users dump emails into them unaware of the data risk these notoriously unreliable files present as they often corrupt.
Power outages, PC crashes or inadvertently ‘closing’ the PST disconnects it from the Outlook profile.  It’s then usually overlooked or lost, creating an uncoupled or ‘orphaned’ PST which is invisible to IT but can still contain valuable information that needs to be preserved or discovered.
These files take up nearly 15% of an IT department's daily helpdesk calls.

 

PST FILES COMPROMISE EDISCOVERY REQUESTS

PST Files compromise eDiscovery requests When an organization is subject to a legal hold request and needs to identify information including emails that are relevant to a particular issue, any emails that are contained in PST files won’t be identified because their contents are available only to their end-user.
Since most legal discovery occurs sometime after the alleged incident, not knowing the location or the owner of PST files can make Legal Hold, eDiscovery requests incredibly challenging.

 

PST FILES FALL OUTSIDE OF COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

PST files fall outside of compliance requirements The PST itself is merely a container file and does not fall under compliance requirements but the emails and attachments that are hidden within it DO.  If the IT department is not managing PST files, best practice is jeopardized.
PST files often contain emails which should have been managed but, owing to restrictions on access they are not subject to the usual retention, deletion or classification policies.

 

PST FILES ARE INCREDIBLY ELUSIVE

PST Files are incredibly elusive PST files can be located almost anywhere – desktops, laptops, corporate servers, removable media, even home PCs.   Over 65% of users store PST files on laptops and 20% of users store them on portable storage devices.
Outlook must have access to the location where the PST is stored, fine for office-based users who have the same access to local or network storage, but if users work from different desktops or locations they may not be able to gain access to the PSTs.
Also, if the Outlook Web App (OWA) is utilized, users will have no access to the files.

 

PST FILES CREATE STORAGE, BACKUP AND RETENTION PROBLEMS

PST Files cause storage, backup and retention process problems If PSTs located on desktops or laptops fall outside the corporate backup strategy, they’re neither backed up nor protected.  If located on network shares, they’re probably being backed up, but this also brings challenges.
Each time Outlook connects to a PST, it’s marked as requiring backup (even if nothing has changed).  It will then back up the entire PST container file.
The average PST file is 1.3gb (around 100,000+ emails).  Multiply that by the number of users using or storing PSTs and you’ll understand the massive impact on backup windows and restore times

 

PST FILES CAN DERAIL STRATEGIC IT PROJECTS    

PST files can derail strategic IT Projects If you’re looking to migrate to Microsoft online platforms, PSTs should be considered as part of the project.
Consolidating all email data into the online Exchange environment not only enhances user experience and productivity, it ensures that any legacy data is protected.
Similarly, a refresh to either new hardware or a virtual environment can be impacted by PST files which can be located anywhere in the desktop environment. A large amount of data is put at risk if they are not discovered and handled correctly.
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