Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How to Burn a Lotus Notes Mail Database to CD-ROM (or other Media) in Read-Only Format

Why would you do this?
This technique is very useful for archiving users mail files when the user has left the company. It enables you to have a look at the mail file without having to copy it off the CD and back on to the Domino server.

I have also used this technique when somebody's mail file got too big to be really useful when traveling. They were able to take their old mail on CD with them while accessing new mail from a fresh database.

Regardless of your reasons for choosing this method, make sure that you comply with your local corporate records retention regulations before deleting any databases from your server.

Before you begin
These instructions are designed for use with the standard Lotus Notes mail template. If you have additions such as archiving or document management facilities built-in, you will probably need to use the load convert command to convert the database back to a standard Lotus Notes mail database before this procedure can be successful.

  1. Locate the Database on the Server and Open it

  2. Create a New Local Replica (File, Replication, New Replica)
    Note: If you're not deleting the original database, you might want to make a COPY instead

  3. Make sure that you do not Encrypt the local replica (the checkbox will tick automatically, so you need to deselect it).

  4. Once your new replica has been created, close the original database and open the replica. This way you can be sure that you're going to be doing the work on the right database.

  5. You should probably also delete the database from your replicator page since you don't want any of your changes to replicate up to the original.

  6. With the local replica of the database open, press Ctrl+Shift+F9 to rebuild and update all of the views. This should take a short while.

  7. Next, go into database properties (File, Database, Properties) and click on the Search Tab (Magnifying glass)

  8. Click the button marked create index. You should also consider ticking the box marked index attached files.

  9. When the indexing has finished, you might want to rename the database so that it is obvious that it is an archived database. You can do that by changing the title in the database properties.

  10. The next step is to change the ACL of the database (file, database, access control)

  11. Set the access controls as follows;

    -Default- Reader (Make sure you deselect Write Public Documents)
    LocalDomainServers Manager (It's ok for a server group to be a manager since they won't open from CD - it also helps when restoring).
    OtherDomainServers No Access

    In the example above, I have set -Default- to reader. This is okay if your CDs are well protected and if they don't have much sensitive information on them. If they do have sensitive information, you might be better off to set a particular user or group to reader and is set default to no access.

    You can put additional groups in if you like but you need to make sure that any people who may open the database from the CD have read only access. If not, the database will try to open in the read write mode which can't be done on a CD and will result in error messages.

    There's no need to put restrictions on servers and server groups because these won't be trying to access the database from the CD. Only people and people groups will.

  12. Sometimes you need to do a final Ctrl+Shift+F9 just in case.

  13. To test the database, mark it as read-only in the file system and open it - or just burn it to CD and see what happens.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for documenting this, someone in the Customer Support team just asked me for the procedure yesterday.

BTW, from memory in earlier version (probably up to 6.5) if you created the FT index an selected any of the checkboxes it didn't work correctly. What version are you using?


Gavin Bollard said...

I'm using 7.0.2

Mariusz Fukacz said...

I do copy of database in similar way, but my way is slightly different:
1. Make the local copy
2. Remove Deletion stubs (File|Replication Settings and change the date displayed in the "Only replicate incoming.." to a 3 days from today (in the future.
3. Compact database
4. Updating Views (CTRL+SHIFT+F9)
5. Create Full Text Indexes (I use default settings)
Now database is prepared to record

george said...

Why after burning the .nsf and.ft to DVD, when I try to search, error message given:

"The full text index needs to be rebuild"

On local drive, no problem.


Gavin Bollard said...

If you make changes to the database after you've created the full text index or after you've done a view update all (Ctrl+Shift+F9) then Notes will want to make some updates to the indexes or views next time you open the database.

When you burn to a CD, you're effectively making the database read-only, hence you'll get error messages if there are updates waiting to be done.

If you're really not sure whether you've done any more updates, do a re-index and a view update anyway.

You can always test a database before making a CD (coaster) by marking all of the files as read-only using the File Manager (Windows Explorer).

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Gavin.

Just like what you said, if I set the files to read-only use windows explorer, I get the same error message.

But I didn't make any changes to the mailfile after created the FT index.
I tried lots of times, still couldn't solve the problem. Now, all my mail backup jobs are hung there.


Gavin Bollard said...

Even though you didn't make any changes, Lotus Notes will continue to update the indexes etc.

Make sure that indexing is complete and that all views are rebuilt before marking the file as read only.

Fleur Williamson said...

Thank you Gavin.

My Notes Administrator had never explained why my .nsf files burned as read only. Now I understand.

PS: I'm still at Weir which used to be Warman. Hope you are well. :-)

Larry Dietrich said...

It's probably best to close the Lotus Notes client after all steps except burning the CD, so you can be sure there's no activity on the database.

Roxann@TA said...

Gavin - A couple of questions for you on this subject.

Could you elaborate on step 5 - where do I find replicator page?

Could you elaborate on Step 13 - how do I get to file system for local and where do I go to obtain copy to burn to CD?

I'm new to Lotus as an administrator and I'm learning as I go.

Gavin Bollard said...

Depending upon the version of notes that you are running, you should be able to find the replicator page on the toolbar on the left-hand side. Some early versions of notes had the replicator as the last tab on the desktop. Note that this is a notes client thing, not necessarily administrator client thing. Do it on a PC, not on the server.

As far as the file system for local is concerned, you should find that notes will treat its local data directory as the local system. Within the notes client you can choose File Database Open (or file, Open, Lotus Notes Application - for version 8.x).

If you choose the local server, you can click the browse button to find local databases.

You can usually locate the notes data directory using Windows explorere in C:\program files\Lotus\notes\data or C:\Lotus\notes\data or somewhere similar. Note that local on the Lotus domino server isn't a good place to do these things. You should do them on your local client (PC).

Scott Noebel said...

Hello Gavin and to the rest of the bloggers here. This comment is in regards to archiving a notes mail file to cdrom. I've followed all directions, set the mail file properties to read-only and when I open the file via my Notes 802(basic or standard version) client the right navigator pane is empty. The right pane shows those emails that were in the Inbox. I can click on them, opening them however gives me an error "memo Form can't be found etc". There must be more to this when trying to view a read-only .nsf file via Notes 8.

Scott Noebel said...

A call into IBM support uncovered the fact that you can not open a mailfile from CD using the notes 8 or above client. Known "issue". No fix.

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up. Some comments:
Be careful about not encrypting any local databases. By default any local databases provide manager access. Even when setting local access protection it is not hard to get into it. For a copy of someone's mail when they leave this may be OK as long as you keep the CDs in a safe place. An alternative would be to encrypt based on an Admin I'd that you keep forever.

On not being able to read from a CD - that's an age-old problem with the ODS. To start with you'll want to make sure that the index writing is complete before shutting down the Notes client. The larger the db the longer Shift/Ctl/F9 will take to finish. After that, closing the client is good to make sure the db is closed. All of this doesn't have any effect on the ODS though. When that changes in later versions, the Notes client will try to re-write items (indexes etc). Since a CD is read-only, this won't work. The only workaround is to copy the content to a hard drive and take off the read-only property. The same thing applies when trying to open a CD in older versions of Notes although then you may also have problems with the template if there is code that the older version doesn't understand.

And yes, making a copy instead of a replica may be good if there is any possibility that this may (nadvertently) get replicated back to the server. In most cases by default the deletion stubs will get purged on the server reica after 30 days. If the CD replica is then replicated against the server after 30 days, then you have the possibility of getting old, deleted messages back.

PetRose said...

For FT index part, you have to notice the directory placed in the same folder as your Notes DB, but named '.FT' ! This directory, you have to copy too, in addition to the Notes DB itself, and these two (DB and Folder) has follow each other, from now on.
I sure hope though, my DVD burning soon will allow me to open the DB's from the DVD source directly ! Otherwise I would have to purchase even more diskspace for my company PC :-(