What are Exchange 2003 scenarios where you use Exmerge or bulk PST export/import?

Published Feb 24 2006 10:24 AM 1,928 Views

The Exchange Team would like to get your feedback on use of Exmerge in Exchange 2003, to make sure that we are focusing on right things in our next release. There are a few questions we have on the subject:

-          What are the scenarios where you use Exmerge with your Exchange 2003 servers now? (Note that we specified here "Exchange 2003" because some new features in Exchange 2003 – like a Recovery Storage Group for example – do not require use of Exmerge on Exchange 2003 servers anymore while this was required on earlier versions of Exchange)

-          Which of those are the most critical to you?

-          What are the scenarios where you do a bulk PST import / export operations using Exmerge? How often do you do this? Do you script it?

Please let us know by posting comments on this blog post.


Thank you!


- The Exchange Team

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Imagine your DR plan doesn't work out, you are left with a primary site down and secondary site to fix.
To minimise service disruption you do a dial-tone recovery, problem there is that the new mailbox is empty with no calendar/contacts/emails.
so if you have a 2nd DR plan you can automate xmerge to constantly feed a dialtone system.
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hey... regulations are such, in the industry I work in, that our internal audit regularly have to use exmerge to "copy" data to CD/DVD and sent it to the investigations team.

its extremely important to us, outside of the excellent points Anthony has already made..

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What we've done in the past:

-migration from one exchange org to another
-mailbox recovery through the recovery storage group

Anticipated future uses:
-"dialtone" restore of a database
-more mailbox recoveries through the RSG
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The majority of my customers are using the Exmerge.

They are using essentially for:
- another way of backup, some of them use weekly or monthly;
- sometimes when an user is fired, he receives a copy of your pst, by exmerge.
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I use Exmerge at least once a week.  I would love to script it, however, since I come across PSTs that can exceed 2GB frequently, I tend to extract most by hand so I can check their sizes.

I would LOVE to see Exmerge support unicode PST files.
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Hi all,

Here we have use it on some DR scenarios and mainly for company compliance.

Sometimes we had an automated system that route messages to our email system (DMS Exchange, anyone ?!? ;-)) and certain messages needs to be removed from all users.
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We use it as a secondary, brick-level, backup and do a bulk export every night.

Sometimes using a recovery storage group is just too long winded to recover just 1 email.
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An managed API (c#) to exmerge would be handy to provide an automated way to export into .pst files.  

We also use exmerge to export from one exchange organization to ours.  Very handy tool!

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I use exmerge at least 4 times a week to do exports for investigations for our legal department.  
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most common task for exmerge is to remove a specific email from all user accounts. This could be an email sent by mistake, a particularly offensive spam or convincing phishing email that makes it through our spam filters and hits a large number of users.
Second to that would be creating an archive when a manager or above level person leaves / gets fired, we create a .pst, burn to CD and put in their HR folder.
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We use Exmerge in two cases: to handle mailbox moves where there are a lot of corrupt items; and also in the case where there needs to be a security audit on a person's mailbox (we just hand the security people the PST).
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It would be good if we can incorporate Search option to search mails in mailboxes based on keywords in the mail body. As of now we can based on Subject only.
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Top two uses for Exmerge are:
- Merging Exchange organizations
- Searching store for particular email that is offensive, infected or required for security audit.
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- Server moves between sites which have limited bandwidth.
- Archival of terminated employee mail

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We use bacth mode frequently for mail migrations between two different orgs when a trust is not allowed.  Batch is great since it allows us to use a mapping file to export out to match DN's properly
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1. Remove unwanted emails.
2. Move/migrate data between Exchange orgs.
3. Salvage data from corrupt stores.
4. Archive terminated employee mail.
5. Extract email for examination by another party (e.g. HR and/or legal issues).

For #2, it would be wildly beneficial to have the option for exmerge to export emails with the SMTP address for recipients rather than x.500 address, to allow for easier replies to migrated messages.
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I use Exmerge principaly for 2 purposes :
1- Archival of terminated employee mail
2-Archival of all email during a period (like all email between  01/01/2005 and 31/12/2005). So i give user a pst, keep a copy on DVD and then i could delete all 2005 emails from my exchange server.
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typically I use exmerge to export an old users mail data to a file and then delete the user afterwards.  I would like to see the ability to exmerge multiple users at the same time (like moving mailboxes) and be able to delete the user accounts afterwards.  Also, it would be nice if it were "easier/more obvious" to setup the "exchange recovery admin" group and add the correct permissions to be able to use exmerge.  
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We used it once in a large org to retract a message.  
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Archival of terminated employee email.
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1. exchange org rebuild in small environments with limited hardware
2. as the back end of our migration software from HP Openmail, Samsung Contact, Scalix, Oracle Calendar Server and others. Our software converts to PST, which is then imported to the Exchange store (often not co-located with the source data, so direct MAPI is bad).
3. detecting corrupt items in mailboxes that fail move mailbox tasks
4. archiving former employees mail
5. assisting users with mailbox archiving
6. data restores where RSG disk space is unavailable
7. oh, there's more...
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Ok lets sum it up, take the time, make the resources available and build it for E12
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Ok lets sum it up, take the time, make the resources available and build it for E12
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Thank you for your feedback, all! Keep it coming! :)
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1. use to backup dumpster before moving mailbox to differnet Database/Storage Group. (wish that would copy too)

2. use to extract recruiting emails from other companies based on subject (wish it would NOT make PST files for mailboxes that don't match what i'm searching for)

3. use to extract for investigation purposes.

extract based on contents in the body and also be able to search by both subject and body for particular workds.

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We use it for CMT Universal to migrate data from Lotus Notes to Exchange 2003. It's a third party tool to migrate encrypted mail, calender information, journals, archived mail. More information in about 3 weeks when we planned a migration weekend.

The tool extract the mailboxes in PST. After that we use 5 migration workstations to migrate 600 mailboxes to Microsoft Exchange 2003. To migrate there PST files we use Exmerge.

Gr Joachim Farla instructure specialist, e-office m b.v in the Netherlands (joachim.farla@e-office.com)
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Exmerge is a very good tool for me as I am working as a Messaging consultant. I use it very often in various migration scenarios and often called from script's.
unicode PST's
Public Folders
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The recover mailbox data wizard does not support filtering of data. Therefore, you always merge or copy all items in the RSG back to the production mailbox. With ExMerge you can use the Data Selection Criteria dialog to restrict the items that are recovered to the production mailbox.
Let’s assume the following scenario:
A user is cleaning up his inbox and deletes several hundred mails. The deleted item retention period expires. The user recognizes that he needs one of his deleted mails back. You have to restore a previous backup to the RSG. With ExMerge you can recover just this important mail. With the recover mailbox data wizard you would not want to merge the content of the inbox from a few weeks ago with the current one, because ALL deleted items would reappear. If you use the copy function then you would “double” the mailbox size by importing all old content into the created “Recovered Data date / time” folder.
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Backups!  Exmerge is a great tool for daily backups of the IS.  After Exmerge is run, we then take the PST and move them to tape.  A couple of benifits I see is if your entire AD/Exchange setup dies, you don't have to do any type of fancy dial-tone, implace, etc restore.  Simply restore your DC from tape and use the PSTs to repoluate each person's mailbox.  Exmerge is also usful if you need to have a snap shot of a person's inbox (like when someone leaves or sends "not nice" emails to others).

I most often call it from scheduled tasks, but depending on the situation I might use a script to dynamically generate some of its config files.
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I used it for a (merger) migration from Openmail to E2003 and E5.5 to 2003. we scripted it to do the users we requested (2000 users couldn't happen at once). The openmail migration created an OM file which Mailmover transformed into a PST where Exmerge took over!

When using the GUI, the ability to find a mailbox based upon all the letters I type rather than just the first one! - it's annoying having to scroll down all of the mailboxes begininng with J!.
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Hi There,
We use exmerge for the following:
Email migrations: for the most part we would rather emerge rather than co-exist when acquiring new users,etc...

Archival uses - e.g. when a user leaves a company  dump a copy via exmerge then to DVD for HR,etc...

Mailbox moves over slow wan links: e.g. I recently had a issue where I had to move a 5GB mailbox over a slow WAN link. Try as I might I was not able to do a regular mailbox move so I exmerged the majority of the mailbox to a pst, moved the smaller mailbox & couriered the PST to the remote site who then imported it locally.

Supporting Unicode is Exmerge would be the single best feature you could add - cheers.
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Government customers are always looking at ways to archive data, but the data requiring archival typically meets some statutory definitions.  Ideally, if exMerge could be used to identify email based on key words, recipient filtering, regular expressions, etc., and then archive on a person by person basis, it would be of more value to government customers.  
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The main uses we have are:

-Archiving users as they leave
-Exporting users from our archiving system (it uses pst's)
-Identify corrupt items in a mailbox
-Moving users with large mailboxes over the WAN (since their mailbox is too large to use move mailbox)
-Export data out of exchange databases using 3rd party utility (ie, quest/ontrack)

That's just a start.  

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There are only two times I use it:
1 - When someone leaves the company.  Most of the time I leave their mailbox in place for up to 6 months.  Then I export it to a PST, write that file to a CD and delete the mailbox.
2 - The only other time I used it was when I was doing a swing upgrade of Exchange and I had some users who had corrupted items in their mailbox and couldn't be moved using the "Move mailbox" function.  I needed to export each part of the mailbox as a PST to find the offending items and then put the whole thing back together on the new server.

I do this so infrequently that I don't bother to script it.  We are also a small company (~50 mailboxes)
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Our company uses the program in many of the ways detailed above.  One feature not getting a lot of comments is the date range export.  We have some clients that sell portions of their business.  When this occurs they want to strip the data that belongs to them (prior to sale date), but leave the mailbox functional and with all data that came after the sale date.  Exmerge satisfies this need easily.  Also running the tool in batch mode for this purpose and others, allows us to schedule jobs without having full staff onsite to baby-sit long running jobs.

Feature requests that we desire that are also mentioned previously:

-unicode PST support

-in interactive mode, find users by typing name, not just first letter

-address manipulation so exported PSTs could be more easily used in cross-org situations (particularly small splits from a large org where we don't want to create 1000's of contacts just so X500 will match)
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I use exmerge via a script to dis
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Usually we use Exmerge when a user leaves the company. We export the mailbox and save it in DVD, and then we delete the mailbox.
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I use exmerge to archive mailboxes. However a feature I would like to see is the ability to go over the 2 GB pst limit...
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-Brick-level backups

-Dial-tone recovery
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- Company mergers
- Restore (Recovery Storage Group -> PST)
- Archive terminated employee mail
- Security audit for mailboxes

Would like ExMerge (and Outlook) to include actual e-mail address of sender instead of the X.500 type address which cannot be reused on another system. Our users get confused and annoyed when their message replies return an error message. They blame us (IT department) for not doing it the "right" way. We try to explain the reason, but the users actually *do* have a good point when they ask "Why can't the system simply include the actual address?"
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I'd add Unicode and Public Folder support, as well.

We use ours mostly for HR activities.  One possibility we keep looking at is migrating users, in bulk, between Exchange servers -- I can do that on a store level by picking up the database and updating via ADMofiy or LDIF, but we sometimes want to move users based on other criteria (like Directory properties).  Prime example is moving back and forth between a generalized distribution of mailboxes across servers, versus putting specific departments of classes of users on different servers.  When we make that kind of change, we have to migrate mailboxes individually or in smaller batches - something that could be fed logic and migrate a large number of mailboxes would be helpful.

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We use it mainly as a disaster recovery tool.  We have automated processes for adding and deleting mailboxes.  If somethings bad happens and a large amount of mailboxes are deleted, it is very possible that exmerge would be employed to fix it.  

I would LOVE to see the ability to merge and existing mailbox with a disconnected mailbox.  Right now, that is by far the biggest limitation I have with the product.
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I guess the main reason you are asking this is to see if support for ExMerge should be kept moving forward with new version of Exchange. Let's hope you do keep it and respond to customer demands. From reading these comments seems like people would like to see this tool expanded not removed from the Exchange admin toolset.

I've seen it used for migrations where journal entries and deleted item folders are cleared down before mailbox moves.

HR and legal requirements to extract mails from backups

Ad-hoc "backups" of VIP mailboxes
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Please don't kill ExMerge. We currently use ExMerge for internal (HR) and external (lawsuits) investigations, spot backups, and message removal. If you folks have the cash, purchasing Sherpa Software's Discovery Attender and releasing it as ExMerge Plus would be huge! I'd love to see Public Folder support for ExMerge too.
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I still use it quit a bit to archive out certain data from users mailboxes and do selective exports and imports to users mailboxes for recovery.

In addition I have been using it a part of my site consolidation efforts to archive out to PST, burn to DVD and move a much smaller mailbox over the WAN.

There are also times I've used for InterOrg Exchange migrations but tend to use the Exchange Migration Wizard in batch mode in most cases now.

It would be pretty nice to see have the added capablity to Exmerge data out of public folders to PST or other..in preperation for eventually removing them all together but importing into Sharpoint...
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I will add my support to the features wishlist:
1) support for unicode PST's
2) the ability to export Public Folders
3) support for standard SMTP addressing on exported message data
4) GUI support for full name find on typed letters

These additions would make an already incredibly useful tool all but indespensible!
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We use exmerge in cases where we have an investigation.  Our Security team will request that we exmerge out all of the data from a specific set of mailboxes.
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1. archiving of email for a terminated employee.
2. migration from one server to another, including GroupWise migrations.
3. Disaster recovery
4. Discovery

Two desires I have for it are the ability to import/export Public Folders, and the ability to handle Unicode .pst files.
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Scripted bulk import/export scenarions (migrations):
- Merging Exchange orgs
- Migrations from one Exchange org to another
- Bulk renaming MAPI-folder names (e.g. solving language issues)
- Data restores/recoveries using RSG
- Client based Lotus Notes to Exchange Migrations, combined with ComAxis UniAccess

Non-scripted use of exmerge (operation):
- Salvage data from corrupt stores/mailboxes
- Archive terminated employee mailboxes
- Remove unwanted emails
- Searching store for particular emails (corrupt, offensive, infected)

1. Unicode PST support
2. Standard SMTP addressing support for exported message data
3. Public Folder support
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We use exmerge for the following:

-Legal investigations
-move mailboxes to new servers
-recall company wide emails
-archive departed employee mail
-import executive new hire mail
-DR scenario with dial-tone recovery
-migrations of many flavors
-MOST IMPORTANT: the five things I can't think of right now but it will save my bacon when they happen and exmerge can do it.

-I'd like to second(10th?) the desire for Unicode support (which really means support larger than 2GB PSTs would really help since it seems like everyone's mailboxes keep getting larger)
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