How to Import and Export Mailboxes using PST Files in SBS 2008?

Microsoft Windows SBS Server 2008 comes bundled up with Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2007. It is a feasible option for small businesses that want to use Exchange Server, without having to go through an expensive setup. There are various situations that may require you to import or export data from Exchange Server, such as archiving leavers’ mailboxes, restoring from a PST archive, or migration to a newer Exchange Server or Office 365.

Methods to Export and Import Mailboxes in SBS 2008

There are two options for exporting and importing from Exchange Server 2007.

1. Using Microsoft Outlook

You can use Microsoft Outlook to import/export data by setting up a profile of the user. However, this method is not recommended since Outlook would be unusable during the process, and crashes a lot or become unresponsive. Also, this method takes a lot of time to complete and you cannot continue the progress if the process fails or Outlook crashes.

2. Using Exchange Server

The best method is to use Exchange Server to export or import the data. You cannot use the Exchange Management Console (EMC) in Exchange Server 2007. So, you need to use PowerShell or ExMerge utility to import or export mailboxes. Exchange Server 2007 does not allow you to export data by using PowerShell or from within the server. You need to set up an additional machine which is joined to the domain in question. ExMerge can be executed from the server.

i. Using ExMerge

First, you need to install ExMerge. This can be downloaded from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=2743. After this, you need to make sure that the ExMerge executable and INI file are stored in the Bin folder, under the Exchange Server folder.

The next step is to create a new Security Group in Active Directory, called ExMerge and add the user to the group. From the Exchange Management Console (EMC), go to the Organisation Configuration, right-click on the Action pane and click on Add Exchange Administrator, add the group ExMerge, and select Exchange View Only Administrator role to add the role. Complete the wizard. For this to take effect, you must restart the Exchange Server.

Add Exchange Administrator

Once you open the ExMerge executable, you can use it to import or export data from your Exchange Server using the graphical user interface (GUI).

ExMerge GUI

Note: ExMerge has a size limit of 2 GB and is not so fast in exporting the data. Another thing to consider is the performance degradation of the Exchange Server 2007 during export/s.

ii. Using PowerShell

Pre-Requisites

Setting up the machine that will be used to import or export mailboxes from Exchange Server needs to have the below specifications:

  • 32-bit Windows 7 Pro or 32-bit Windows XP Pro Operating system with all the updates
  • Install 32-bit Exchange 2007 (SP1) admin tools
  • Outlook 2003 or 2007 installed with all the updates

On this new machine, you need to make sure that the account you are using to login has the right permissions to export or import the data.

Setting permissions for import

Open an Exchange Management Shell (EMS) and execute the below command

Add-ADPermission -Identity <server name> -User ‘<user>’ -ExtendedRights ms-Exch-EPI-Impersonation

Setting Permissions for Export

Add-ADPermission -user “domain\ExMerge” -ExtendedRights Receive-As, Send-As

This must be done for every user you need to export. If you want to set the permission globally, you can set up with the ForEach Loop in PowerShell.

Alternatively, you can change the permission on the mailbox by using the Exchange Management Shell. Open Recipient Configuration and Mailbox, right click on the mailbox to export, click on Manage Full Access Permissions, and add the user you need.

Manage Full Access Permissions

Exporting a Mailbox

Once the above pre-requisites are complete, you can use the PowerShell cmdlet Export-Mailbox to export the mailbox.

Export-Mailbox -Identity <emailaddresstoexport> -PSTFolderPath C:\PSTFiles\export.pst

This will export the mailbox to the specified path.

export the mailbox to the specified path

Depending on the size of the mailbox, the process may take some time.

Import PST to Mailbox

Once the pre-requisites are complete, you can use the PowerShell cmdlet Import-Mailbox to export the mailbox.

Import-Mailbox -Identity <mailboxtoimportto> -PSTFolderPath <PSTFileLocation>

This will start importing the PST file into the specified mailbox.

importing the PST file

Filtering during Import and Export

When importing or exporting, Exchange Management Shell offers some filtering options, such as the start date, end data, subject keywords, and content keywords. Other filters include Locale, AttachmentFileNames, AllContentKeywords, SenderKeywords, and RecipientKeywords. An example of the filtering is given below.

Import-mailbox -Identity ricardr -PSTFolderPath D:\PSTs -StartDate 1/1/06 -EndDate 12/1/06 -SubjectKeywords:’review’ -ContentKeywords:’project’,’alpha

Conclusion

Exporting or importing a mailbox, by using the above mentioned methods, can take a considerable amount of time and resources. Also, you need to setup a separate computer/ server and use a lot of scripting to export or import. To ease the job and make the process faster, you can use a third-party application, like Stellar Converter for EDB. The application features a lot of filtering options with a great GUI. With EDB to PST converter, you will be able to open any version of EDB database – Exchange 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019, and export the data to PST and other formats. You can also export directly to a live Exchange Database and Office 365 tenant.

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