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

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

Comments (68)
  1. Anthony says:

    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.

  2. lee says:

    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..


  3. Brian says:

    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

  4. Hello,

    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.

  5. Brian.Kronberg says:

    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.

  6. Benjamin Mateos says:

    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.

  7. Wayne says:

    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.

  8. Ingram Leedy says:

    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!

  9. Mel says:

    I use exmerge at least 4 times a week to do exports for investigations for our legal department.  

  10. Dave says:

    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.

  11. Chris says:

    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).

  12. Bobby says:

    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.


  13. james says:

    Top two uses for Exmerge are:

    – Merging Exchange organizations

    – Searching store for particular email that is offensive, infected or required for security audit.

  14. Chris says:

    – Server moves between sites which have limited bandwidth.

    – Archival of terminated employee mail

  15. Matthew Santos says:

    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

  16. Scott says:

    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.

  17. sgislain says:

    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.

  18. forest2 says:

    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.  

  19. Rich says:

    We used it once in a large org to retract a message.  

  20. adam says:

    Archival of terminated employee email.

  21. Andy says:

    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…

  22. Jon says:

    Ok lets sum it up, take the time, make the resources available and build it for E12

  23. Jon says:

    Ok lets sum it up, take the time, make the resources available and build it for E12

  24. Exchange says:

    Thank you for your feedback, all! Keep it coming! :)

  25. benn says:

    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.

  26. Joachim Farla (joachim.farla@e-office.com) says:

    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)

  27. Lasse says:

    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

  28. Juergen says:

    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.

  29. 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.

  30. Scott Cross says:

    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!.

  31. Matt Drnovscek says:

    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.

  32. Another Anthony says:

    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.  

  33. Todd Booher says:

    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.  


  34. Peter says:

    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)

  35. Kenny W. says:

    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)

  36. Murray Fraser says:

    I use exmerge via a script to dis

  37. Helder Nascimento says:

    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.

  38. lieven says:

    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…

  39. LiquidCloud9 says:

    -Brick-level backups

    -Dial-tone recovery

  40. Garry Trinder says:

    – 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?"

  41. James Wells says:

    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.

  42. lee says:

    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.

  43. Bob Carrolgees says:

    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

  44. Brad Paynter says:

    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.

  45. Ion Gott says:

    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…

  46. Tim H says:

    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!

  47. Matt says:

    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.

  48. 58sniper says:

    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.

  49. RiP says:

    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

  50. Jesse Snipper says:

    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)

  51. colin says:

    ExMerge is very handy as it is.

    I use it to fix weird permission/profile issues with exchange accounts, especially when it fails on exporting from outlook.

    Some DR circumstances, dial tone restores, etc…

    Moving from one exchange server to another, across different exchange Org’s, and versions…  Migrating off 5.5, etc…

    Moving mailboxes between stores, when it fails to move…

    What I would like to see in new versions, support for larger files, ability for more threads, ability to deal with some of the errors encountered when exporting, etc…

  52. Christopher Hota says:

    I’m an Exchange Admin newbie, but my organization is thinking of creating our own Active Directory, and not being part of our parent company’s forest.  We do have an Exchange server in the parent company’s forest, so we were thinking of bulk exporting PSTs from the server, rebuilding it in the new domain, and bulk importing.

    (I’m a first-time poster, and I just want to say that I really appreciate this blog; it’s a great resource, and makes you guys seem very accessible!)

  53. Chris says:

    I use it mostly for mergers/consilidations.

    There are several features that I would like to see:

    Either Unicode PST’s or the ability to break it up (Quest’s QMM and EMW create 100 MB PST’s over and over again until it is complete).

    Public Folders

    A little smarter PST’s.  It would be nice if the Exmerge Import was not just based on the file name but rather actually reads the file and can match it to a mailbox.

    We used the Quest tools unless the budget does not allow it.  If you could make the ExMerge more like their tools… that would be huge!

  54. PermanentMarker says:


    Unable to migrate outlookexpress users, to exchange sadly some organizations have a few (or all) users who have this. Then going into a migration project (outlook&Exchange) i have to say sorry well we cannot migrate your old mail.. altoughh outlook can upgrade this is not always realy usable for example new client PC with pre-installed office.

    most i like of exmerge is the advanced logging possible with the tool and also it’s more finely configurable then the builtin exhange tools.

    In situations when i can not connect to the old server directly by network (be it remote or unstable)

    To migrate organizations who don’t require PST’s beside their exchange mailbox.

    I love it that when i migrate to new mailboxes i can reset language of the mailbox.

    Also use it with disaster recovery scenario’s when retrieveing data from unstable servers instead of move mailbox (not much control inthere) rather use exmerge and keep a watch on the logs it generates

  55. Peter says:

    1) Bulk Migrations from other Mailserver Solutions using Outlook Clients+PSTs+IMAP/POP3 to Exchange

    2) mailbox recovery (RSG) in certain situations where better filtering is needed

    3) automatic archiving

    4) archival of terminated employee mailboxes

    5) bulk insert calendar items to some mailboxes (company holydays, etc.)

    whish: make it posible to import 1 pst to different mailboxes provided in a list

    SUCH A GREAT TOOL, pls Keep it alive

  56. Kevin says:

    We use Exmerge for the following reasons:

    -produce pst from restore (legal requests)

    -produce pst from restore (user request)

    -copy mailbox data

     … when user moving to another mail system

     … when doing intersite moves


  57. Chris Kindschi says:

    To copy items prior to deleting a corrupt folder (usually calendar).

    To remove a particular message everywhere.

    If you could use it to transfer the ownership of meetings from one user to another, that would be wonderful.

  58. Eric M. says:

    Archive terminated employee mailboxs and import to a Public Folder for department head and exective access.

    I would rather be able to archive a mailbox to a PF without having to use ExMerge.

  59. Isaac Chan says:

    I often use ExMerge to export mailboxes from Recovery Storage Group. I also have similar wishes for the future release of ExMerge:

    1. Unicode PSTs;

    2. Larger PST size;

    3. Ability to extract orphaned/disconnected mailboxes;

    4. Public Folder support.

  60. Kristin C. says:

    Exmerge used to be able to do the "Recover Deleted Items" with Antivirus running.  

    Now, however, if antivirus software is running, exMerge errors out when doing the recovery of deleted items unless you either remove antivirus or set the registry key to bypass antivirus.  (You can only see this error in the exmerge log)

    This makes it difficult in exporting production data for Legal & HR when you need the Recover Deleted items.


  61. Bob Hugel says:

    There are two things that I’d like to see.

    1) Unread message flag – so that unread messages can be exported/purged based on a date from mailboxes – See SRX060221604118

    2) Scripting support

    Thanks, Bob

  62. Michael Curtis says:

    We use it each night as a brick level backup. We use a batch file to run exmerge from a scheduled task. It would be nice to be able to see it running when it is run from a scheduled task and not as a hidden task.

    It makes getting email back for users so easy. We can just give them their pst and they can get the mail back.

    We run this each night and the backup software archvives off all the pst Thursday night and new ones are made over the weekend.

  63. zebulebu says:

    I’ve lost count of the number of times its come in useful for me – mainly for migrating from one Exchange Org to another.

    Also used it as a brick-level backup in a couple of places and, though this doesn’t really count is a ‘bulk’ application, I have used it on numerous occasions for legal reasons (safe ‘offline’ storage of terminated employees’ mailboxes)

  64. Gordon Jackson says:

    Use it quite frequently when migrating from SBS 2000 to 2003 to transfer users mailboxes.

  65. Rsr2564 says:

    I use Exmerge for migrations, security investigations, and mailbox adminiistration.  I script out the exmerge operations where I need to perform Bulk exmerges.

  66. ds says:

    I use exmerge very frequently, several times a week. Would love support for big PST that dont corrupts ie that can be used read only. I have thought of doing tricks with network shares so that it appears writable.

    In general I would like to see many of thue exchange tools opened up. Is their any reason Admodify.net, exmerge and most resource kits tools, are not provided with source, they are unsupported officialy anyway. Would Microsoft loose out?

  67. ds says:

    I use exmerge very frequently, several times a week. Would love support for big PST that dont corrupts ie that can be used read only. I have thought of doing tricks with network shares so that it appears writable.

    In general I would like to see many of thue exchange tools opened up. Is their any reason Admodify.net, exmerge and most resource kits tools, are not provided with source, they are unsupported officialy anyway. Would Microsoft loose out?

  68. adam says:

    Unicode PST support and scripting please!

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