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Importing PST Files into Exchange Mailboxes

by Harvey Coblin on December 12, 2012

Sherpa Software regularly distributes a series of short “how-to” videos that outline how to perform specific tasks using our Attender Utilities for Exchange products. We recently gave a facelift to one of the most popular of these instructional pieces, PST Migration with Mail Attender for Exchange.

Central access to Outlook Personal Folders (PST files) for legal discovery, email regulatory compliance and implementation of corporate policy is an increasingly critical issue for many organizations. The decentralized nature of PST files, combined with their proliferation throughout the enterprise on desktops, file servers and laptop machines, makes the task of finding, accessing and managing these information stores a headache for IT administrators – not to mention complicating e-Discovery efforts for legal staff looking to reduce potential exposure or vulnerability.

This brief video demonstrates how to use Sherpa’s Mail Attender for Exchange to locate PST files distributed throughout your environment, assign ownership to them, and then reintegrate them back into the appropriate users’ Exchange mailboxes. It also demonstrates a new feature in Mail Attender 4.7 that allows you to deduplicate (or single instance) messages as part of the process. If you missed it the first time around or would like a refresher course, the video can be found here:

Sherpa Software offers a suite of solutions designed to cost effectively take control of and manage email and other electronically stored information, including widely dispersed and potentially jeopardizing PSTs.

Video text follows:

One major advantage of Mail Attender is its ability to locate and manage any PST files distributed throughout an organization.  It doesn’t matter if the PSTs are server-based or located on users’ local workstations: Mail Attender can find them and automate the process of importing the messages into their respective owners’ Exchange Mailboxes or Archives.  This is all easily accomplished with little intervention on the part of the Exchange Administrator.  And new to Mail Attender 4.7 is an option to remove duplicate messages within the PST’s.

Once Mail Attender has scanned for PST files, there are 3 primary tasks associated with importing them to Exchange Mailboxes.

The first step is determining the PST file ownership. Next is assigning a destination mailbox. And finally, comes the actual importation of the PST file into Exchange. We’ll go over each of these tasks in order.

After Mail Attender searches for and detects PST files located on your file shares or on local workstations, the first thing we need to do is to assign ownership to those PST files. If your organization has hundreds or even thousands of PST files, assigning ownership one at a time is simply not practical. Fortunately, Mail Attender employs a sophisticated algorithm to determine the most likely owner address.

To Scan for Ownership, simply highlight each PST file you would like to scan from within the Mail Attender Console. Then, right-click on one of the selected PSTs files and choose Scan for Ownership in the popup menu.

As the scan of each file is finished, the LastOwnerScan column will display the date the scan completed. The owner name will appear in the Owner column. If Mail Attender isn’t able to find a definitive owner, it maintains a list of top potential owners based on user names found on the messages. You can then use these hits to assign ownership.

The second step in this process is to assign a transfer destination. Mail Attender supports a special rule type that facilitates the transfer of email messages from one email store to another, called a Message Transfer Rule.

The transfer destination is dynamically assigned based on Keywords. Using Keywords, you can assign different transfer destinations to all of your PST files with one assignment, instead of per PST file. Since we’re not listing an individual Exchange mailbox as a specific destination, we refer to this type of transfer as an “indeterminate mailbox destination.” This should begin to make more sense as we step through the process.

First, Select the PST file(s) that you want to assign a transfer destination to, right-click and select Properties from the popup menu.

In the Properties dialog, select the Transfers tab, and click Add Mailbox. This opens the Add a New Mailbox Transfer Destination window: Next, we’ll need to provide a name. Let’s just call this one “Indeterminate Mailbox.”

Next, click the Add Keyword button to populate the Mailbox Server field. From the keyword list select [USERAD_EX_OR_CAS_SERVER]. This will dynamically assign the mailbox’s server based on the ownership found during the Scan for Ownership.

Next, click the second Add Keyword button to populate the destination Distinguished Name. We’ll select [USERAD_EX_DN] from the listed keywords. This will dynamically assign a mailbox as the transfer destination based on its ownership. Click OK  and we now see the Properties dialog is now populated with the transfer destination values that we just added.

Now that we’ve used the server name and the user’s distinguished name to establish a linkage between the PST files and the Exchange Mailboxes, all that’s left to do is to create a rule within Mail Attender to perform the actual import.

From the Rules view in the navigation tree, create a new rule by clicking on the toolbar icon Create a new rule. When you do so, the Select Rule Type window will appear.  We then select the third option, “Message Transfer Rule.” This type of rule is used to send messages from one email store to another, using Mail Attender as an intermediary. Then click OK and the New Message Transfer Rule window opens.

After giving our new rule a title on the “General” tab, we move over to the “Email Stores” tab, We can click the “Add” button to select the PST files we would like to import to this list. After we’ve selected all relevant files we just click the Add button to add them in the bottom window.There are additional options on the other tabs that allow us to refine our transfer and add specific conditions, but we’re going to skip those and proceed over to the “Destination” tab, where we’ll enter the transfer destination. Back in Step 2, we created a transfer destination called “Indeterminate mailbox” to assign PST ownership based on the server and user name. We’ll enter “Indeterminate mailbox” here.

The “Check for duplicates…” option allows Mail Attender to de-duplicate (or single instance) the messages being imported from the source PST files. We can toggle the scope of the deduplication t apply to the entire mailbox or limit the deduplication to a particular folder and its sub-folders.

Next comes the schedule tab. It’s generally a good idea to run the import process during off-peak hours in order to avoid conflicts with users who may have their PST files open. However, if you want to kick the import off immediately, you certainly have that option as well.

Mail Attender also provides a host of reports and logs to help you centrally manage the entire migration process. Not only does it give you the ability to migrate your PSTs into Exchange, but also provides complete project management from beginning to end.

Sherpa Software support hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Eastern Stand Time. If you have questions regarding importing PST files with Mail Attender (or questions related to our other solutions), please contact us.

About Harvey Coblin

Harvey's areas of expertise include content searching and policy enforcement capabilities, eDiscovery and application development.


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