One question that seems to come up a lot is “How can I delete a message from all the users mailboxes”, this question gets asked for many reasons, such as someone sent an email to the wrong group of people, you know that a message is in your system that contains an attachments that you do not want your users opening, you can probably think of a few more reasons.
So, how do we go about flushing this message from the system, the answer lies in a little utility called “EXMERGE”
You can get EXMERGE from http://support.microsoft.com/directory/article.asp?ID=KB;EN-US;Q174197&
Now that we have installed Exmerge, how do we use it to remove the relevant messages, here is a picture of a user’s mailbox.
We want to get rid of the message that contains the subject of “Top Secret Documents”, from all users’ mailboxes.
1. Start Exmerge
2. On the “Procedure Selection” dialogue box, select “Export or Import (Two Step Procedure)”
3. On the “Two Step Procedure” dialogue box, select “Step 1: Extract data from and Exchange Server Mailbox”
4. We are now presented with the “Source Server” dialogue box, specify the name of your Exchange server, and if applicable the name and LDAP port number of your Domain Controller, if you do not specify the Domain Controller Exmerge will use your Global Catalogue server to find the users, this will take longer, but if you have a multiple domain environment this should be used.
5. Click on the “Options” button, this is where we will specify the messages that we would like to extract.
6. On the first tab “Data”, select “User Messages and Folders”
7. On the second tab “Import Procedure”, select “Archive Data To Target Store”, this is the procedure that will delete the message from the users mailbox.
You will be prompted with a dialogue box notifying you that this process will delete the message from the Information store once it has been copied to the PST file, respond Yes to this.
8. The third tab gives us the ability to select what folders we would like to search through, if we leave this section blank, then all folders will be searched.
9. The forth tab allows us to select a date range for searching the messages.
10. The fifth and final tab will allow us to select the text that appears in the subject of the message and/or the attachment name we are looking for.
11. We have selected “Top Secret Documents” and also select the “Exact String Match”, so that we do not delete any other messages.
12. Once we have click on Next the “Database Selection” dialogue box is display, from here we can choose what Stores we would like to search through.
13. Once we have selected the correct store and clicked on Next, we are presented with the “Mailbox Selection” dialogue box, you will need to select individual mailboxes or you have the option to “Select All”
On the “Locale Selection” dialogue box, select the Locale that you would like to use to search the mailboxes.
When messages are located that meet the criteria specified, they will be copies to the location you select on the “Target Directory” dialogue box, make sure you remember where you put this, as we will need to delete the files later.
14. If you would like to chance the name and location of the files used by Exmerge you can do this on the “Save Settings” dialogue box by clicking on the “File Names” button.
15. Once we click on “Next” the process will begin, this could take a considerable about of time depending on how many mailboxes we are search through and the size of the mailboxes.
So if we now look at the mailbox that we opened at the beginning of this document we should notice that the “Top Secret Documents” message has now been removed.
16. The final step in the process would be to go to the directory that we specified in the “Target Directory” dialogue box and delete the files created by Exmerge.
As you can see Exmerge is a very powerful little utility and care should be taken before running this in a production environment, test it out thoroughly before using in on “live” mailboxes and always do a backup of your data before running it.