Export-Mailbox is a task developed by the migration team to allow Administrators to export content from active mailboxes to a folder inside other active mailboxes. The initial idea for this task was to be a complete replacement for ExMerge. The implementation of some of this functionality was problematic and it required more time than initially planned. In this post I will describe what we are missing, which workarounds are available, and some of our future plans.
The need for an ExMerge replacement
ExMerge is a tool created by Microsoft Support in the Exchange 5.5 timeframe, used to allow Administrators to export and import mailbox content to/from PST files. Over the years this tool became popular since, because of its flexibility, it could be used in a number of scenarios where specific tools did not exist. As a result of this popularity, the Exchange team took on development ownership of ExMerge for Exchange 2003 and released it as a tool over the web.
Even though ExMerge proved to be a helpful tool for Exchange Administrators, there were several problems that needed to be addressed in Exchange 2007:
Separate Code Base: One of the goals for Exchange 2007 is to reduce the number of separate tools and code bases supported for migration operations. ExMerge has always been completely separate from all shared Exchange migration code. This has caused several technical problems like the need to support an independent PST provider (that is why the current version is not able to support mailboxes larger than 2 GB and Unicode) and so on. These issues have caused delays in updates, limited functionality and extra support costs for customers and Microsoft as well.
Independent Tool: Besides the technical implications of having a separate code base, the fact that ExMerge is an independent tool has caused a lot of unintended consequences regarding the scenarios where it is used. Every time a tool is used for something it was not designed for the risk of unintended consequences and bugs increase. Also, over use of the Exmerge tool works as an incentive to under use our other migration tools where they are better suited. This adds extra cost to the management of Exchange.
Export-Mailbox was built to address scenarios where mailbox content needs to be copied from one active mailbox to another without actually migrating the whole mailbox object. Source and target servers used by export-mailbox need to be part of a Single Forest or Resource Forests. That is, mailbox content can only be exported to mailboxes within the same forest.
The following versions are supported by export-mailbox:
Exchange 2000 SP3 (or later)
Exchange 2003 SP2 (or later)
Exchange Permission requirements:
Logon account for the user who is running Export-Mailbox needs to be a member of "Exchange Servers Administrators" for source and target Server. Permissions for previous Exchange Servers remain the same as they were for Exchange 2003 Move Mailbox Task (Exchange Administrator).
Current functionality available for Export-Mailbox
Pre-Validation and New and Improved Logging
Export-Mailbox benefits from a pre-validation functionality similar to the one present in move-mailbox. This feature saves time by identifying most errors right away before the export begins, instead of waiting until they happen during an actual export.
Also available for Export-Mailbox is the comprehensive log feature: Event logs, a XML Report and a troubleshooting log. All logs are enabled by default and are located at <ExchangeRoot>\Logging\MigrationLogs\.
Export-mailbox available options
Export mailbox content from a active mailbox to a folder inside another mailbox
Filter content to be exported based on:
List of included or excluded Folders (included using –IncludeFolders or excluded using -ExcludeFolders)
Message subject (-SubjectKeywords)
Message and attachments content (-ContentKeywords)
Attachment file names (-AttachmentFilenames)
Message locale (-Locale)
"OR" search of Message subject, message content and attachment content (-AllContentKeywords)
Date range (-StartDate and –EndDate)
Delete content from source mailbox after exporting it to target mailbox
Automatically exports dumpster items as regular messages in the target mailbox
The following options were not included for Exchange 2007:
- Exporting content directly to a PST file: Part of the challenge here was to adapt our code to the Outlook PST provider, which provides the most up to date PST functionality. Currently Administrators can export content to folders inside one or more mailboxes and then manually export this content to PST files using Outlook. Also, Exchange 2007 will not actively block access from ExMerge clients supported by Exchange 2003. This is not a scenario officially tested but customers have reported that running ExMerge from an Exchange 2003 server and accessing Exchange 2007 databases indeed works. Native Exchange 2007 support for this PST is being planned to be part of Service Pack 1.
- UI interface: Since most of the common scenarios for ExMerge were related to bulk operations we have decided to focus on delivering the needed functionality first and a GUI later. There is no defined date for the creating of such interface for the export-mailbox task at this point.
Customer scenarios and examples
These are the supported customer scenarios for Export-Mailbox:
Exporting mailbox content during litigation process
During a litigation process, Administrators may need to regularly export mailbox content from selected users. These searches will be based on criteria defined by lawyers. This content will be exported from one or more source mailboxes into a temporary mailbox that the lawyers can access. The lawyers would then process the data and send the data to opposing counsel.
Exporting email content to former users
When accounts are about to be removed from a server (as in college students graduating or users leaving a hosting account)administrators might want to send mailbox content to the former users that for some reason could not manually copy the email content themselves. Admin would use the Export-Mailbox option to export the data to some intermediary mailbox and then manually export data to end users via PST files.
IT Emergency Response Process
In the course of daily operations of an IT Emergency Response organization, administrators need the ability to scan a large number of messages based on specified criteria, and perform mass deletion of any suspect email found. By using Export-Mailbox and the –DeleteContent parameter along with specific filter options, they are able to search and delete such messages.
Exporting mailbox content based on Organizational information:
Export all content from all mailboxes where user Title starts with VP to a folder called VPData in the Administrator mailbox:
Export and deletes all messages that have an attachment that contains the word "movie" in its name from all mailboxes from the DB1 database to a folder called MovieAttachmentMessages in the Administrator mailbox: