Active Folders is an email search engine that looks for multiple attributes. It automates the manual task of finding unwanted attachments or abusive emails, or can be used to bring together all communications on a specific subject.
The engine works in a Microsoft Exchange 5.5 or later environment to help impose an email policy across local and networked mailboxes. Google and others are making free tools that search through documents and emails, but these are currently personal search engines rather than network searches. Active Folders is still relevant because of its ability to search enterprise-wide and fine-tune searches.
Active Folders runs in the background on Exchange to log incoming and outgoing traffic. Searches are initiated through the admin tool, which allows the user to decide where a search will be directed. There's also a tool for finding PST files in file shares.
Creating a search policy allows the administrator to make any kind of search from a global search down to searching an individual Outlook file. Setting up a policy is clearly laid out and an export feature allows each one to be saved for future use. However, the interface is utilitarian, and leaves room for improvement. The manual helps by giving a clear enough example to get a novice familiar with the process.
The ability to search all Office-sourced attachments, PDF files and other documents is useful for finding references that might otherwise be missed. The PDF feature requires Adobe's ifilter.dll to be available. The link given in the documentation is no longer valid and it took a while to find it at Adobe's website. Search for "PDF IFilter" to find it.
If legal issues were the only reason to use Active Folders, it would hardly justify the cost. But the search facility can find oversize attachments, lost documents, spam that evaded the filters or was generated internally.
It can also be used to remove phishing emails and any virus-laden messages that may have been accepted before the latest antivirus update is available.