Symantec's Enterprise Vault (EV) is as full-featured product in the enterprise space as you're likely to find, offering n-tier architecture, a very sophisticated feature set, superb expandability and integration with other Symantec email security, storage and backup products.

Along with all that functionality comes complexity due to the n-tier structure that stores data in a SQL database and provides separate engines for different functions, allowing the archiving system to be spread over several hardware servers if desired to provide the greatest possible performance. Enterprise Vault can archive Exchange Server, Domino Server, file servers, SharePoint servers and SMTP-based email servers.

Installation has been greatly improved over the last version of Enterprise Vault we tested, although it is still necessarily much more complex than the simple one-click installers of less capable products.

The prerequisite checking program does a great job of ferreting out any missing components, a best practices wizard is available to optimise performance settings before installing EV, and the installer is as simple as it can be, with the option for a basic 'quick install' or an advanced installation mode that lets you access all the features.

The feature set EV provides is the most sophisticated in this test, in terms of levels of granularity in management and policy settings, numbers of administrative roles and levels of security. There is deduplication not only across mail stores, but across multiple stores on one server or multiple servers. In addition, EV offers expandability to handle any level of complexity of mail system necessary, support for Microsoft or Veritas clustering, a great self-service function for users to find and restore messages, an improved indexing, discovery and litigation hold function.

Administration is easier than with previous versions, with a well-organised admin portal that allows easy access to all the features. The online help is actually useful, which is important given the rich feature set. For the user, the system is easy to use, either to recover accidentally deleted messages or to access stubbed messages.


EV is no more expensive than other products that are less capable – the decision factor for most will not be price, but complexity. Many small and mid-sized businesses will find the additional features not worth the trade-off in additional time and resources necessary to install and maintain the system. For large organisations with dedicated email admins, this is not an issue.