SMEs worried about where to put their growing pile of old email are being offered a new cloud-based Microsoft Exchange archiving service that can be configured in 15 minutes.

Available from this June, Astaro’s Mail Archiving service will offer smaller companies an alternative to buying expensive appliances or simply replying on on-site software, the company says.

The benefits of using the cloud are no limits to mailboxes and usage, the ability to use online tools to search for old emails using an Outlook plug-in, and no need for employee training. The archiving saves all email, including inbound, outbound and internal, as well as attachments.

Once configured, the company promises, the admin is not required to spend time scheduling backups or applying software updates, which are downloaded automatically.

The mail itself is stored in an encrypted form and can be left indefinitely once a retention policy has been defined. Outlook .pst files can be uploaded directly, or mail to be retained can be defined in a more granular way that excludes some messages using the ArchiveManager console. The same console can be used by compliance staff to retrieve old messages.

The service is Microsoft-centric, supporting Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, running on Microsoft Exchange Server.  Explorer, Firefox and Chrome are supported for online mail search.

Pricing has not been announced, but licenses come in packs starting at 10 users, on a one, three of five year subscription.