Where there are lawyers, there’s SharePoint bloat--document retention policies can cause a SharePoint site to become obese, affecting site performance and end-user productivity. Enter Metalogix, which today announced its free SharePoint archiving tool, Archiving Express for SharePoint.

“People are just starting to tumble to the idea that they need to archive SharePoint content,” Chris Risley, CEO of Metalogix says. “MOSS 2007 is a substantially more useful product than the previous edition of SharePoint—before that, SharePoint wasn’t broadly adopted. But people started using MOSS and this year, the lawyers started saying, “Wait a minute.”

Metalogix already had a pedigree in Exchange archiving, SharePoint migration, and related tools and offers a for-pay solution, Professional Archive Manager 4.0, a fourth-generation archiving tool. But its free Archiving Express for SharePoint, a truly free tool and not a trial version, is intriguing for its use of hierarchical storage and federated search.

Archiving Express for SharePoint archives SharePoint content by using the company’s Hierarchical Storage Management technology to direct files to a central storage medium, leaving a 1KB HTML link to the stored file. Federated search allows for quick location and retrieval of content so end users can still access and edit the document as usual. Admins can set retention policies and search policies, and delegate archiving to site managers. The solution basically packages up an archive and hands it to a storage model, whether that’s a third-party storage solution or Windows Server 2008 or 2003.

Feedback from users of the free tool will, Metalogix hopes, help to enhance and shape future releases. However, “We expect that some companies will use this product for years and years,” Risley says. Support for the free tool is in a forum only, but the for-pay solution, Professional Archive Manager, offers paid support and the ability to run the console on the admin’s desktop rather than on the server, as the free tool does. To learn more about Archiving Express for SharePoint, visit Metalogix’s website