Use mail journaling to save copies of all email in Lotus Notes

Learn how you can use mail journaling to save copies of all email messages that go through your Lotus Notes Domino system.

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"Mail journaling" is a feature new to Domino R6. It performs an operation that was very difficult previously. If you wanted to save a copy of all email messages that flow through your Domino mail system your options were limited prior to R6. There were a couple of third-party products, which you could pay extra money for. You could try to write some custom code that takes a snapshot of messages as they move through your server's mail.box file, but this requires advanced programming skill. You could make backups of all mail files each night, but this won't cover mail that is deleted as soon as it is received.

Mail journaling takes care of this problem for you, with some simple settings in the Domino Directory (names.nsf). I recently set up this feature at my office and for a large customer. In doing so, I tested many of its options and controls, and am passing this information along.

  • Create a special Notes ID to be the owner of the mail journal database. Give this ID to a couple of trusted administrators, or lock it in a secure place and tell these administrators how to get it. Normally, I don't recommend generic IDs that don't have a person's name on them. They often create more problems than they solve, but in this case, the special ID is useful. The ID's name can be something like "Mail Journal Owner/Corp Name."

  • There are two places in names.nsf that control mail journaling. Both are easy to reach from the Domino Administrator program. Primary control of the journaling feature is found at Configuration / Server / Configurations / Router / Advanced / Journaling. Control of the mail rules (which journaling uses) is found at Configuration / Server / Configurations / Router / Restrictions / Rules.

  • Go to the mail rules and create one small rule to make sure journaling is up and running correctly. To capture all mail to/from myself, the rule says, "When sender contains connell or any recipient contains connell journal this message." Make sure this rule is enabled (green check mark). Later, when you want to trap all mail, you can create a rule that says, "When all documents journal this message."

  • Go to the primary journal control area. Create the following settings:

    • Journaling = Enabled

    • Field Encryption Exclusion = Form; From; SendTo; CopyTo; BlindCopyTo; ReplyTo; Principal; Subject; Body; RouteTimes; RouteServers; DeliveredDate; PostedDate; Received; Chair; AltChair; ManagedFor; StartDateTime; EndDateTime. (Doing this allows you to read the journal database with any ID that passes the ACL. Otherwise you can read the journal only with the special owner ID file.)

    • Method = Copy To Local Database (The "send to mail-in database" method is not as good for two reasons. It does not include the automatic database rollover feature, and it forces every message to be re-mailed through the router a second time.)

    • Database Name = <default>. (Do not create a subdirectory to hold the mail journal. The rollover feature does not respect the subdirectory, so you end up with mail journals in two different places.)

    • Encrypt on Behalf of User = <special ID you made above>

    • Leave the two Database Management fields as default for now. You can adjust them later after journaling is working correctly.

  • Save the journal configuration. The Domino server should pick up the change fairly quickly and begin journaling messages. The server will automatically create the journal database.

  • After Domino creates the journal database, set the ACL of the database as appropriate. Make access is as tight as possible, since you are relying on the ACL to restrict readership. Be sure you list the Owner ID and some real people as Managers.

  • The journal database, and its rollover backups, are not shown in the Database/Open list. So you must type their filenames explicitly to add them to your desktop. The backups are named MJmmddyyyy.nsf.

  • You probably want to establish a procedure to archive old journal databases and move them off the disk periodically.

For full information see Domino Admin 6 Help / Contents / Mail / Customizing Mail / Mail Journaling.

Chuck Connell is president of CHC-3 Consulting, which helps organizations with all aspects of Domino and Notes.

MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS TIP

Journaling is ok, but if you need to keep monthly reports of all mail sent there is a problem with the logic built into the system. They neglected to include a monthly roll-over option. Instead they give us the ability to set it to a number of days (in my case I used 30) and after a few months, I have Journals that end of the 24th or 25th of a month and the new ones starting the next day. This leads to a problem when trying to use the Journal to report on mail sent/received monthly which I have to do for management. I have had to create a secondary Journal database that I then use to merge the documents from two Journal databases in order to produce these reports.

It would be nice if IBM/Lotus thought about the end user in this case and included a useable roll-over option. Monthly roll-over shouldn't have been left out.

—Roy R.

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This was first published in February 2005

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