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FAQs for Message Record Management (MRM)

Jan 11th, 2011 | By | Category: Tips

Microsoft Exchange Services

Message Records Management (MRM) is a process used by the Microsoft Exchange Services Operations teams to automate the management of mailboxes with high item counts in critical path folders.  The use of MRM helps improve the user experience when connected to Exchange Online via Outlook by reducing the count of items in critical path folders to below-recommended thresholds. MRM moves those items to a set of managed folders in the user’s mailbox.

What are critical path folders, and how does the number of items in these folders affect mailbox performance?  

In Exchange Server, there are five critical path folders, and each of these folders has a threshold for the number of items these folders can optimally manage.

The folders and their item thresholds are as follows but not to be confused with mailbox sizes.

  • Inbox: 20,000 items
  • Sent items: 20,000 items
  • Deleted items: 20,000 items
  • Calendar: 5,000 items
  • Contacts: 5,000 items

What general tips can you give your users to help them avoid mailbox performance issues?

We recommend that you educate all your users about best practices for mailbox management, including these recommendations:

  • Create a folder outside the critical path folders. This new folder would be considered self-managed folders. Just move the items outside the critical path folders by creating Inbox, Sent, Deleted Items, multiple Contact, and Calendar groups/lists. Create a set of folders to personally organize and keep important messages.


  • Create custom retention policies
  • Performing  regular maintenance and deletion of older mail, calendar, and contact items is the most simple method for mailbox maintenance
  • Using Outlook’s auto-archiving feature is another option, though many organization’s e-mail management policies restrict the creation of local archive files
  • Setting up an e-mail filing system to move messages, calendar items, and contacts that a user wants to retain into self-managed folders off the critical path folders
  • Keep less than 20,000 items in your Inbox, Deleted Items, and Sent Items folders
  • Keep less than 5,000 items in your Calendar and Contact folders
  • Delete the items from your Deleted Items folder two to three times per month, depending on your company’s policies, deleting would be your last resort

Each of these recommendations will help ensure the best possible mailbox experience for your users.

Is the use of the MRM process optional or mandatory?

This should be an exercise for all users as a mandatory procedure that has high item count mailboxes. Advise and train your users to educate them on best practices for mailbox management, including steps that users and IT administrators can take to improve mailbox performance.

You should create a folder structure if your email account doesn’t already have managed folders, create the following (see image below) set in the user’s mailbox.

Self Managed Folders

Archive _DO_NOT_Remove
Deleted Items
Sent Items

For those companies who manage their own Exchange Service and already have an MRM process the managed folders, by design MRM will automatically move items out of the critical path folders and any subfolders to reduce item counts below the threshold, starting with oldest items first. Only messages and calendar items older than 180 days will be moved by MRM; contacts will not be moved. Application of MRM will preserve a user’s messages and calendar items while improving the user’s mailbox performance.  Conforming to privacy requirements, MRM is an automated process, and no customer data is opened or read in the application of this process.

Does MRM delete my users’ mailbox data?

MRM only moves messages and calendar items to the managed folders. No data is deleted by the MRM process.

Users who have a very large number of items (greater than 80,000) in a critical path folder or users who have multiple critical path folders with high item counts may experience poor Outlook performance after the application of MRM. This behavior is a result of the OST file re-synchronizing with the server.  This will resolve itself within a day if the client is left running.  Access to the mailbox through Outlook Web Access (OWA) will be unaffected.

Once data is moved into managed folders, users may need to re-index their mailbox for the search to work as expected and find items in all mailbox folders. This help-and-how-to article provides assistance for resolving search issues in Outlook 2007.  You should always use best practice and empty your deleted items folder.

Can my users change the name of the MRM-created managed folders?

Users cannot change the name of the MRM – they can only create, name and rename their own users created folders. You should always manually manage your mailboxes to avoid the critical path thresholds. Users that are able to self-manage their mailboxes will not have MRM applied to their mailbox.

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