PSTs and Exchange 2010

PSTs are the devil's candy of IT. You know they're bad for you, all the current best practices are urging you to stop using them . . . but it's just so hard to get away from them. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 introduced Personal Archives as a possible method of eliminating PSTs going forward. But what do you do with all those files already out there—somewhere—on your network?

Red Gate Software found that many organizations that were planning to move to Exchange 2010 and import PSTs had no idea how they would accomplish this. Therefore, Red Gate answered this question by releasing PST Importer 2010, which provides a GUI for searching your environment, locating all PSTs, and importing them into the correct user's mailbox. The product can search servers, client machines, and network storage, and you can schedule searches or run them manually.

Exchange 2010 SP1 introduced a new Windows PowerShell cmdlet to let you import PSTs into user mailboxes; but even though Exchange admins largely no longer fear or avoid using PowerShell, this method still isn't as simple to use as a GUI, nor does it offer all the features of PST Importer 2010. I spoke to Red Gate product manager Elizabeth Ayer, who said that with the PowerShell method, "There's nothing to help you actually find PSTs on the network, there's nothing to help you gather them, or manage the connection between where you found them and who owns them and what mailbox to put them in. So from our perspective, this is an incredibly manual and potentially error-prone process because your chance of importing your PSTs into the wrong mailbox are scarily high."

I was surprised by the fact that Exchange would let you import a user's PST into a different user's mailbox, but of course there are reasons you'd want to be able to do that—for instance, someone leaves the company and someone else needs to manage that Inbox. Nonetheless, having a GUI such as that provided by PST Importer 2010 makes the whole process extremely visible and easy to manage.

PST Importer 2010 also lets you import calendar, task, and contact items. For more information and pricing, or to download a trial version, visit Red Gate's website.

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