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IBM Notes Archiving

How to archive in Lotus Notes

There are two types of Lotus Notes archives. How do you know which one is right for you? This article gives a simple step-by-step guide and explains the differences.

Here are the two approaches to creating a Lotus Notes archive:

  1. Use the standard archiving feature that comes with IBM Lotus Notes to archive your data in the NSF format (standard archive).
  2. Export your data outside of IBM Lotus Notes into open formats such as PDF, XML, and JSON, by using specialized archiving tools for Lotus Notes (stand-alone archive).

Regardless of the method, you can archive either Lotus Notes emails or applications.

1) Creating a standard Lotus Notes archive

The standard Lotus Notes NSF archive file is created using the built-in archiving features. You can archive your data manually or set up scheduled archiving.

When you use the built-in archiving, you will be saving your Lotus Notes data in a new NSF database that is created automatically when you configure your Archive Settings.

The Lotus Notes NSF archive file stores exact copies of your Notes documents which you can always search and access in the archive as you normally would in any Notes application. However, note that the archive cannot be accessed outside of IBM Notes and Domino.

This archiving process consists of two steps:

  1. Configure the Archive Settings for a selected application.
  2. Archive your application manually or set up scheduled archiving.

Here’s how to configure your archive settings:

  1. Open the database you want to archive, and choose File > Application > Properties.
  2. In the Properties pop-up that opens up, select Database in the top dropdown and click Archive Settings… in the Settings section:
  3. Lotus Notes archive settings
  4. In the next pop-up, open the Basics tab and select the computer where archiving will run and the NSF archive file location:
  5. Lotus Notes NSF archive file
  6. Next, open the Criteria tab and create a new criteria or select and edit an existing one:
  7. How to archive in Lotus Notes: Criteria
  8. In the Create Archive Criteria dialog that opens (or Edit Archive Criteria if you’re editing an existing criteria) click Selection Criteria…:
  9. Lotus Notes NSF archive selection criteria
  10. In the next dialog, select your criteria:
  11. Lotus Notes NSF archive selection criteria
  12. Go back to the Criteria tab, and select your cleanup options (which specify what will happen with the documents in the application after they are archived):
  13. Lotus Notes NSF archive cleanup options
  14. Click OK on all open dialogs, and close the Properties pop-up window. You are now ready to archive your application manually or set up scheduled archiving.

To create a new archive database (NSF) manually in Lotus Notes, follow these steps:

  1. Open a database with a set of archive criteria enabled whose documents you want to archive.
  2. Choose File > Application > Archive.
  3. Click Yes when asked if you want to archive documents from this database.

To set up scheduled archiving, follow these steps:

  1. In the database you wish to set up a schedule for, choose File > Application > Properties.
  2. Click the Archive Settings button and click Schedule.
  3. Select Schedule archiving and select a time from the drop-down list. Note that your computer will need to be turned on during this time.
  4. Select all the days on which you want archiving to run.
  5. Optionally select a specific location in which you want the archiving to run and remove any customizations by clicking Reset to default.
  6. Click OK and your scheduled archiving set up is now complete.

IBM Domino Administrators can setup server-based archival jobs so the resulting archive is saved on the same or a different Domino server. An IBM guide can be found here (PDF): Domino Archiving: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting Techniques.

2) Creating a stand-alone archive from Lotus Notes data

A stand-alone archive is an archive that is decoupled from IBM Lotus Notes and Domino, and is typically built using open-standard formats (such as PDF, HTML, and XML).

The primary hallmark of a stand-alone archive is that it can be stored outside of Domino server and can be accessed and viewed without the Lotus Notes client.

In order to create a stand-alone archive in Lotus Notes, you will first need to consider what data you want to (or must) export to make a complete archive.

Primarily, you will need to think about preserving the Notes forms, document layout, and any rich content in your applications (such as images, tables, and attachments), but you will also need to take into account the plain metadata, document links (doclinks), embedded views, and any other Notes design elements that have been deployed.

Additionally, the Notes data is typically displayed in hierarchical views that provide document relationships as well as further context to the Notes documents, and are often essential to the business operation.

Depending on your business scenario, you may need to export anything from just the plain metadata, all the way to the entire application as a whole (together with all of its documents, views, attachments, and links).

Accordingly, your export project may turn out to be a very simple affair (such as simply offloading the plain Notes data to CSV), or it may turn into a complex project that requires careful planning and implementation.

Lotus Notes does not provide a built-in capability for archiving Notes applications as stand-alone archives; you will likely have to use specialized Notes archiving tools for this purpose.

SWING Seascape for Notes aims to provide the ability to archive entire Notes applications in a few easy steps, while giving organizations the ability to archive exactly the data they need.

Whether it’s just a plain export of a document view into PDF and XML files saved in a folder (i.e., the Plain Archive) or a batch export of multiple applications into browsable and searchable archives that can be hosted on any web server (i.e., the Full Archive)—Seascape has you covered.

What’s more, Seascape enables organizations to move the documents and data from the Seascape archive to Microsoft SharePoint at any time.

Here’s how to create an archive from Lotus Notes in a few easy steps:

  1. Open the Seascape application and select the type of export (Full Archive or Plain Archive):
  2. Seascape for Notes - Archive options
  3. Select the database(s), the views, and the documents to be exported, and select your preferred export settings (configurable). Then select the destination folder and click Next:
  4. Lotus Notes data full archive steps
  5. Your export will now begin, and a progress bar will indicate the job progress:
  6. Archive progress
  7. When your export is completed, you can view your archive in a web browser (or in your destination folder, if you selected the Plain Archive option):
  8. Archive catalog

SWING PDF Converter for Notes is a tool that provides document extraction either on an ad-hoc basis (for Notes users) or scheduled (without user interaction).

Learn more about these tools: SWING PDF Converter or Seascape for Notes: Which product is right for you? Or download the product trials:

Try Seascape for Notes Try PDF Converter for Notes

Pros and cons of the two approaches

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches? The first thing you should think about is whether you will restore your Lotus Notes data from the archive. If you want to use the archive as a copy of your current data, which you can use for Lotus Notes data recovery if needed, then you should certainly archive to Notes/Domino NSF. In that case, your archive is actually a backup for data recovery, not long-term retention.

On the other hand, if you are creating archives from Lotus Notes data for long-term retention, we recommend creating a standalone archive. This allows you to create a collection of historical business records for future reference. The archived files are completely decoupled from the original platform and suitable for long-term data retention.