I run an Exchange Server 5.5 system and use an extensive public-folder structure that includes a folder for each of my company's customers and suppliers. Can I configure Exchange to autoarchive outgoing mail so that a copy of each message to a customer or supplier ends up in that customer's or supplier's folder?

You can implement this functionality within Exchange. One method is to assign each involved public folder an easy-to-remember email address (e.g., customer_name@your_organization_name) or alias, then use the appropriate folder's address or alias in each outgoing message's Bcc field. My company implements this strategy to accomplish a goal similar to yours (we tend to assign the public folders aliases rather than email addresses).

This archiving method has a few requirements. First, an Exchange administrator must maintain the public-folder structure, including proper addresses or aliases on the folders. Second, users must remember to enter the correct address or alias in a message's Bcc field (you can create a field in your customer-and-supplier database to hold the public folder address or alias so that users have a reference when they're unsure of the proper address). You also need to make sure the folder isn't hidden; otherwise, Exchange won't recognize and resolve the folder when users reference it in the Bcc field. To accomplish this step, run Microsoft Exchange Administrator and expand the Organization name\Folders\Public Folders tree to view a list of public folders. Right-click the appropriate folder and select Properties, navigate to the Properties dialog box's Advanced tab (which Figure 2, page 104, shows), clear the Hide from address book check box, then click OK.

Although the aforementioned method is quick and convenient to set up, its success depends on each user remembering to include the Bcc when addressing messages. If this approach doesn't work for you, you might want to consider the following alternative:

  1. Create a custom recipient entry for each external customer or supplier.
  2. Set permissions on your public folders to permit anonymous access.
  3. Create a public folder for each external customer or supplier.
  4. Create a distribution list (DL) for each external customer or supplier, and include the customer's or supplier's custom recipient and public folder in the DL.
  5. Hide each custom recipient and public folder from the address book (to do so, select the Hide from address book check box on the Advanced tab of each recipient object's and public folder's Properties dialog box).

This method takes a bit more initial effort, but the advantage is that the only entry in the Global Address List (GAL) for each customer or supplier is the relevant DL. Exchange automatically copies to the custom recipient and public folder all messages that a user sends to the DL, thus archiving everything without relying on the user's memory.