Problems with GFI Mail Archiver and Exchange Server 2007 SP1
For a long time I’ve relied on a great product for archiving emails. Initially it started out as a method for offloading mails from the mail server and encouraging users not to store their data in PST files but has since become an essential repository for retrieving mails both old and new.
I have always kept the support contract up to date, kept my servers patched and kept up to date with new releases of the software. Mail retention is becoming such an important issue particularly in terms of offloading the storage from the mail server, retrieving emails from the archive and for legal reasons. It is vitally important therefore that the product works consistently and continuously.
I have had support issues in the past but as long as the problem is resolved quickly then I’m relatively happy. However, I was nowhere near ready for what I would endure with GFI, MailArchiver 5 and Exchange Server 2007 SP1. I installed the upgrade of MA5 and installed the Service Pack for Exchange thinking I now had a great combination of products. I have been waiting for SP1 for such a long time that it was a relief when it finally arrived and the new features (especially the auditing facility) contained within the new Mail Archiver were very well received. I had previously checked for support issues between SP1 and MA5 and could find no mention of any issues so off I went as normal happily thinking everything was ok.
Then Mail Archiver stopped working. This is unusual I thought to myself, but never mind, try and reinstall the product. The installation program failed. Ok, try and uninstall the product then reinstall. The uninstall failed. Ok, off to support. I run the troubleshooter program that is required to be included for support calls and guess what – it failed. Add to that that the license service in the program also failed and had reverted back to an evaluation license. I try and put in my new code – it won’t accept it. I obtain an evaluation code from the GFI site and it won’t accept it. What next. I put the relevant information into the support ticket and logged a support call with GFI – then waited nervously.
I hear nothing – even though the GFI support site promises a next day response. I chase them up in an email. I hear nothing. I chase up Customer Services and finally get a response. However, now I am being asked for a whole bunch of information – some of which isn’t possible to get which I had previously mentioned. Then I hear nothing. Days later I chase up things again only to find out that apparently my email never arrived – strange?. But I send the files again.
The files I sent included a PDF with screen shots and details of the problems I am experiencing. I get a response with a request for screen shots even though I had included them already. I send the screen shots again. I then get a slightly sterner email telling me to follow the instructions properly and send screen shots as required. A little frustrated I follow them to the letter and produce the same screen shots. I send them off and explain my frustration and am now told that this case needs to be referred to a Supervisor. From this point on I hear nothing. Nada. Zip.
Time passes, we are now 15 days down the line since the original support ticket, and I chase up Customer Services. Nothing. I try Sales and get an automated reply. Has everyone from GFI vanished or finished for the Christmas break already? I am pretty sure that when the support renewal is due that I might be able to get hold of someone – so why not now?
While I wait I am having to tell users that I can’t retrieve their mails and obviously am getting “We should have kept our PSTs” to which I have no defence – I can’t even quote GFI when they say:
“…avoid the pains of PST file management because it reduces the company’s dependency on these files..”
As you can probably imagine I feel really let down and disappointed by GFI. They have a great product in Mail Archiver and would it not for the poor support this post would probably be praising the product but if you can’t rely on support for something as important as mail retention (with all its associated legal issues) and have to be without the product for weeks on end then I have to wonder what real use the product is in the first place?
As I sit here now the product hasn’t been working for 15 days and I feel a bit like Will Smith in his new movie “I Am Legend” desperately in search of human life. I am hoping someone from GFI may get in touch however the Christmas break will be upon us tomorrow and by the time we get back to work even the 30 day evaluation license that the software forced in (and won’t let me change) will have expired so I will at worst have no mail archiving facility and at best a huge gap in the archive. Not a prospect I look forward to facing at the start of the New Year.
UPDATE (2008): This frustrating problem has since been resolved thanks to the help of a member of the GFI support team who got in touch with me – the service had to be removed manually by editing the registry, once this was performed the product could be re-installed. We recently migrated to Mail Archiver version 6 and fortunately there have been no hiccups.