When you build IT systems and you put limitations on how they are intended to be used, it goes without saying that people will try to find ways of getting round those limitations. We’ve always been fairly liberal about what users can do with our systems, but there are some times that we have to put limits in place. For example, we don’t have an unlimited amount of disk space, so we have to put quotas on storage capacity for each user’s email and files.
It turns out that some people try to work around these quotas by deleting email messages or files that they want to keep and take advantage of Exchange’s Recover Deleted Items feature and the shadow copies of home folders on file servers (seen as Previous Versions in Windows Explorer). Some people may get away with working like that for some time, simply recovering the content during the retention period and then deleting it again so that it doesn’t impact their quota.
As a way of working that’s about as safe as storing your important paperwork in the bin and hoping that you’re always there to take it out before the cleaner comes along to empty it. From time to time, routine maintenance on the file servers will result in shadow copies being lost – it’s not that we’re being careless with them; that’s just the way it works. If your mailbox has to be moved from one Exchange mailbox store to another, you’ll lose the ability to recover your deleted items. We try to keep these instances to a minimum because those features are useful for quickly recovering when accidents do happen, but sometimes they are necessary in the course of keeping the systems running as reliably as possible.
Throwing things away and then hoping that the bin doesn’t get emptied is not a solution. If there are legitimate reasons why your quota isn’t big enough, then there are better ways to work. We have a system for requesting increases to home folder quotas and a Home Archive Service for infrequently accessed data (and other solutions for even bigger data requirements, such as large sets of research data), and we have an Exchange Archiving System to store larger amounts of old mail. If none of those meet the specific need, then we’re happy to help to find a solution that works.