Exporting and Importing Mailboxes with Exchange Server 2010

by [Published on 12 Nov. 2009 / Last Updated on 12 Nov. 2009]

How to export and import mailboxes with Exchange 2010.

Introduction

This article will describe how to export and import mailboxes with Exchange 2010; based on the Exchange 2010 Release Candidate. Although RC should be finally completed, this may be subject to change in the final release of Exchange 2010.

In the near future, we will take a deep dive into what you will need to prepare/ how to run your tasks with the new release of Exchange. You will realize that preparation-wise, once the prerequisites have been met, it will be as easy to deploy as other versions of Exchange.

 Why Export and Import

First off, we need to define if the task will be exported or imported in the mailboxes. In general, this is quite easy to define. This is what you should do:

  • Migrate from mailboxes completely out of range of your Exchange server environment only when you get the PST file from a user
  • Troubleshoot problems with existing mailboxes due to database errors or anything else
  • Backup all mailbox data manually to a tape without having the backup agent available

Fulfilling the Prerequisites

Before you can start your task you will need to prepare a client system with the following requirements:

  • Installation of 64 Bit Windows Operating System
  • Installation of Powershell 2.0
  • Installation of .NET Framework 3.51
  • Installation of Outlook Office 2010 64 Bit (which is currently in CTP release available)
  • Installation of Exchange Server 2010 management tools
  • Create domain membership for this client
  • Logon with an administrative account with Exchange’s full administrative permissions

Exchange Server 2010 comes with Roll-based Administration; you will need to run the following command first though:

New-ManagementRoleAssignment –Role “Mailbox Import Export” –User “<username>”

This command gives the user permission to import and export mailboxes. Another way of doing this is creating an Active Directory group and adding permissions to this group using the following command:

New-ManagementRoleAssignment –Role “Mailbox Import Export” –Group “<usergroup>”

When you are done, you will only have to add users to this group to allow them to export and import mailboxes.

If we take a look at how to import a mailbox, you will see that the powershell command for this task is actually quite simple:


Figure 1: Importing a mailbox

If we now take a look at how to export a mailbox, you will realize how easy this is too! The following are the steps you need to take to carry out this task.


Figure 2: Starting a Mailbox Export

This procedure may take some time because this depends upon how big the personal folder itself is. Do not panic if it takes its time.


Figure 3: Finalizing the Mailbox Export

As you might have realized, all these steps are Powershell commands. In the Release Candidate of Exchange Server 2010 there is no way of doing this in the graphical interface.  With Exchange Server 2010 Beta Release there is a way of doing this there too.

Hopefully this feature will be back in the RTM release of Exchange Server 2010, I will show you now how this will work.

After having installed Outlook 2010 in 64-Bit on the “Ex-/Import-Computer”, you will have two new commands (if you look at the context menu of each mailbox). These are “Export Mailbox” and “Import Mailbox”.


Figure 4: Mailbox Export in Exchange Administrative Console

When this is done, we need to specify the location of the target mailbox and the target server or the location of the personal folder (PST).


Figure 5: Detailled information on Exporting Mailbox

Importing a mailbox is quick and easy. You can see what option to choose from the Figure below.


Figure 6: Importing a mailbox using Exchange Management Console

The reason why Microsoft has disabled this feature may be (apart from the fact that it may come back in the final release or a first Service Pack) this task is especially for a mail server administrator and not for the general administrator.

Conclusion

As you have seen in the text above, importing or exporting a mailbox in Exchange Server 2010 is quite similar to Exchange Server 2007, if you meet the prerequisites and install Outlook 2010 64 Bit to a dedicated computer. Installing Outlook on the Exchange Server itself has been unsupported in the past and will be in the future, too.

But at first we have to mention that importing and exporting mailboxes to a personal folder makes Exchange Server loose its single instance store. This means that if one item has been sent to a lot of users internally in Exchange Server it only saves this message once. If you are running an export or import, this feature is lost and the size of your mailbox database will rise enormously. So a better solution in order to migrate mailboxes from one server or mailbox database to another is to move the mailbox and not to export and/or import it again afterwards.

If you are migrating from a non Exchange mail server environment to Exchange this might be the only thing you can do to transfer old mailbox entries to the new environment. Additionally, it might be useful if you are still running Exchange Server 5.x and a “move migration” is impossible, you may solve your problem using this feature too.

If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly!

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