Think about archiving options in Jira, before it eats into your team's productivity
Admin wizardry and workarounds to archive Jira projects or issues has been a hot topic for a very long time now. As anyone can see in the Atlassian Community or in public Jira projects, questions and comments are popping up week by week, followed by long discussions.
The recommended options to imitate archiving, however, can be categorized into two major groups, regardless of whether users are on Data Center or Server deployments:
- you can either keep your “archived” (or otherwise made invisible) issues in the same Jira instance
- or move it elsewhere.
Both have their pros and cons, so the best you can do is to understand your options and choose one that fits your organization’s needs while forces you to make minimum compromises.
Below we highlight some of the most reliable alternatives for Jira data archiving in case of both Server and Data Center deployment options.
Options for issue archiving
1. Native project archiving
Data Center ✅
Jira Software 7.10 brought the built-in feature of project archiving. Unfortunately, it is available for Data Center deployments only.
It was a widely requested feature by the largest Jira customers, and for a reason: based on Atlassian’s own research, the largest Jira instances have 1200 projects on average and the average number of Jira issues per instance is 1.4 million. These large customers also have 900 custom fields and use 400 workflows on average. So it’s no surprise that these hyper-customized Jira instances need some easy and effective way of improving performance.
The new project archiving option will allow users to move whole Jira projects into an “Archived” status, removing them from the Jira index without wiping them from the database.
- Project archiving for Jira Data Center effectively improves overall Jira performance, de-clutters the Jira interface and speeds up project-dependent processes.
- It also makes restoring archived Jira projects easy, as they never actually leave the instance.
- Jira project archiving improves user experience.
- While it boosts performance, it doesn’t help free up resources like storage, as it only hides the archived projects from JQL, lists, menus and indexing, but keeps storing them on the server. If storage needs to be strictly managed, it could turn out a sub-optimal solution.
- Keeping your archived issues and projects in Jira undermines portability and access for users without a Jira account.
- Project archiving is available for Data Center only.
2. Exporting issues and moving them to a Document Management System
Data Center ✅
You can easily grab Jira issues and export them together into a static, human readable format like HTML or PDF. Depending on the output format, you can also maintain issue metadata (attachments, links, comments, change history) and move them without risking data loss.
An exporter app like Better PDF Exporter can export Jira issues to PDF documents, and also allows you to choose what fields to include, on what layout, or whether to include comments, attachments (even embedded in the document), change history, links, formatted text, etc. Then you can use a Document Management System to store, categorize and index your archived issues. This approach offers trivial data retention, searching and browsing capabilities.
- By exporting you can archive even a single issue or any group of issues. You can even set up an automation to run a certain JQL periodically and archive the resulted issues. It allows for a more dynamic archiving workflow.
- All issue information stays on the PDF, including issue summary, description, comments, attachment file names, etc, so it makes a perfectly searchable database of archived issues.
- Documents stored in a Document Management System are read-only and tamper-proof, but external users can still access them for audit or other inspection purposes.
- Exporting issues and moving them improves Jira performance as those are removed from Jira indexing and search while also frees up valuable resources on the server.
- Improves user experience.
- Restoring issues from PDF won’t be possible, at least not for a lot of issues in bulk. You can still "restore" issues manually or write some program that parses issue data from the document and re-creates the issue via the Jira REST API.
- Issue links, pointing to the archived issues, will be broken.
- It involves managing a separate Document Management System (if you are not already running one).
3. Using restrictive permissions schemes
Data Center ✅
There is no direct, native way of project archiving for Jira Server. The most commonly used workaround for achieving something like an archived Jira project is setting up a dedicated permission scheme. This permission configuration would only allow read-only access or not even that for users, practically making projects invisible.
- This technique hides the project (and its issues) from users, so de-clutters the Jira interface.
- Reactivating hidden projects is easy.
- Issues hidden with a permission will still be indexed, therefore Jira performance will not improve.
- Hidden issues and attachments will continue consuming resources like disk space on the server.
- Managing and applying the proper schemes every time a project needs to be archived means an administrative burden.
4. Moving issues to another Jira instance
Data Center ✅
Setting up another Jira instance and making that the "Archive Jira" is another frequently used workaround. There are also a few Jira apps that help you sync or move your projects and configurations between the Production and the Archive Jira.
- Moving old issues elsewhere offloads the traffic from the production instance, improving its performance.
- Issues and attachments are cleaned from the production instance, freeing up resources.
- Issues stay easily accessible and searchable, with the on-demand option for restoring.
- If you move projects by creating backups, those can only be restored to the same Jira version.
- Setting up and administering an additional Jira instance just adds to the admin tasks already piled up.
As you can see, there isn't a single perfect option for Jira project and issue archiving today. Only after learning about your options and matching them with your organization's needs can you make an informed and responsible decision on how to preserve Jira projects for the future.