Managing Personal Archive in Exchange Server 2010 (Part 4)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:


In the previous article we saw a couple of options on the client side that helped us move data from PSTs to Personal Archives which are okay but they are not practical for large migrations. Using Exchange 2010 Service Pack 1 we have the ability to import PSTs into the Personal Archive. This is my favorite option of transition, however, the downside is that users’ PSTs must be somehow moved to a central location and the import requires a couple of cmdlets.

The first step is to assign permissions to a user or group to perform such import operations. In our scenario we are going to use the administrator account. Let’s run the following cmdlets:

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

Figure 01

Then close the Exchange Management Shell and re-open it, we will have access to the cmdlets required to complete our tasks. We also need to create a shared folder, let’s create a Shared Folder called PSTMigration$ and the requirements for this folder is having Exchange Trusted Subsystem group with Change permission on NTFS and also any other users that you may want to. For the sake of simplicity the shared folder permission will have Authenticated Users with Change permission at Share level.

Now that we have completed the prerequisites to use the feature we can import PST using the following syntax:

New-MailboxImportRequest –Mailbox <MailboxName> -IsArchive –FilePath \\Server\share\file.pst

The example above in action can be seen in figure 02, where we import the PST file (andy.pst) into Andy’s Personal Archive mailbox. After doing that we can run Get-MailboxImportRequest to check the status of the process.

Figure 02

We can take advantage of PowerShell and create a batch file to migrate all PSTs of a specific folder based on the file name. Let’s create a scenario where we sent a brave help desk team member to a crusade and he was able to talk to each user and move their PSTs to our PSTMigration$ share and also removed the PST from the end-user Outlook. He also may have assured the users that all their data will be available next morning.

Since the guy helped us a lot we don’t want him to stay late at night doing import process one by one, right? We can use the Get-Item \\server\share\*.pst as initial cmdlet to list all PSTs on our PSTMigration$ folder and from there we use pipe to migrate each file to its correspondent mailbox based on the file name. In figure 03, we can see the cmdlet in action.

Get-Item \\ server\share\*.pst | ForEach { New-MailboxImportRequest –Name <Name identifier> -BatchName <Name Identifier> -Mailbox $_.BaseName –FilePath $_.FullName –IsArchive }

We decided to use –Batchname switch to facilitate the process. This way we can run Get-MailboxImportRequest | where { $_.BatchName –eq “<BatchName>” } and only the PSTs being imported by the previous cmdlet. It helps to keep track of the process, and also to remove the files that were already imported.

Figure 03

Configuring Outlook to deny PST access…

If you are planning to remove PST access to your users because of the many advantages of using Personal Archive you must make sure that the users do not have the option to play with PST after their migration. In a previous article series we discussed how we can configure GPOs to manage Outlook:

There is an Office 2010 Administrative Template available since that article was created and we can use the same steps to Disable PST or at least prohibit them of adding content to the current PSTs.

The path to find the PST settings on the new Template for Office 2010 is Administrative Templates / Microsoft Outlook 2010 / Miscellaneous / PST Settings, and the possible options to be defined are shown in Figure 04.

Figure 04

Combining Retention Policies and Personal Archive

Exchange Server 2010 introduced a new concept in the Messaging Records Management (MRM). This version is also known as MRM v2, where we can have several new items such as: Personal Tags, Retention Policy Tags, Default Policy Tags and so forth… all that is to help administrators and users to classify the data and take actions about the content using the new features such as Personal Archive.

This article is not about Messaging Records Management but very relevant to know that an Exchange organization can have multiple Retention Policies. A retention policy object is applied to the users, and that Retention Policy consists of three components:

  • Default Policy Tag (DPT): It is applied to all items that do not have a retention tag and we can have up to three DPT per Retention Policy (using different actions). Default Policy Tag is the tag that has All other folders in the mailbox as Tag Type.
  • Retention Policy Tags (RPTs): These policies are associated to default folders in the mailbox, such as Inbox, Sent Items, and so forth. We can have one Retention Policy Tag per Folder per Retention Policy. The reason is that makes no sense having two policies on the same folder doing different things on the same Retention Policy.
  • Personal Tags: Those tags are used by the latest clients (Office 2010 and Outlook Web App) where the user can associate them to folders and messages. It helps when you have a scenario where you have configured a Personal Tag to archive for 5 years, and the Inbox folder has a RPT of 2 years. When the user receives a messages that requires 5 years then he is able to assign the Personal Tag that will make the message available for 5 years without messing up any other messages/folders.

By default when we enable a mailbox to use Personal Archive and if that mailbox does not have a Retention Policy assigned to it, then the Default Archive and Retention Policy will be automatically assigned to it. You can check this out, enabling Personal Archive and then going to Exchange Management Console / Microsoft Exchange On-Premises / Organization Configuration / Mailbox and then Retention Policies tab, double click on Default Archive and Retention Policy and click on Mailboxes and you will notice the mailbox that we have just enabled is right there.

The end users experience is not affected by MRM process because all items archived on the Mailbox will be placed in the same folder in the Personal Archive. If the folder doesn’t exist then it will be created automatically by the Managed Folder Assistant process.

All Personal Tags that have the option move to archive (Figure 05) will show up on the client (Office 2010 or Outlook Web App) as Archive Policy (Figure 06)

Figure 05

Figure 06

The Move to Archive action which will take advantage of our Personal Archive feature can be used only with All other folders in the mailbox, Personal Folder or Recoverable Items folder types during the New Retention Policy Tag wizard.

From MRM perspective the Mailbox and Personal Archive use the same retention policy which means that we need to be careful when using Archive and Deletion options in ours tags. Rule of thumb, make sure that the deletion tags are longer than archive so that you don’t have data removed from your users’ mailboxes.


In this final article about the Personal Archive feature we have seen a demonstration on how we use Import/Export Management cmdlets to help during the transition and how we can make sure that end-users stop using the PST through Group Policies.

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