Microsoft PST Capture Tool (Part 3)

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

Searching and Importing

If you followed the previous two articles of this series, you should have everything in place to start importing PST files into users’ mailboxes. This process consists of two steps:

  1. First we need to run a search to find all PST files in the computers where we deployed agents (we don’t need to include a computer in the search just because it has an agent);
  2. After getting a list of all the PSTs found, we chose which ones to import and to which mailboxes by creating an Import List.

So let’s get started. On the PST Capture Tool’s main window, click on the New PST Search… button. This will start the New PST Search wizard which consists of 4 steps.

In the first one, we select the machines we want to search. The Agent Detected column helps identify which computers have an agent installed. Although you can select computers that don’t have an agent, they will not be searched, so not sure why you can select them… You can also use Find in case you deployed agents to dozens or hundreds of computers which will help you look for the computer(s) you want to search. If you want to search all computers in your organization, simply check the box next to Computers or to your domain at the very top.

In my case, I will be searching across 1 file server and 2 workstations:


Figure 3.1: New PST Search – Computers to Search

In step 2 we chose which locations to include in the search. As you can see, the software is quite powerful in this aspect as it provides a variety of options. We can choose to scan:

  • All: this includes all hard drives (it does not include mapped network drives or USB drives);
  • These locations: in here you can specify multiple locations separated by semi-colons, such as C: ; C:\PSTs for example;
  • None: in this case no hard drive will be searched, only removable drives;
  • All removable drives: by selecting this option you can search attached USB drives for example.

It also allows us to exclude certain locations:

  • System folders: this will make the search skip system folders like C:\Windows for example;
  • Program files folder: this option will exclude the default installation path for programs: %ProgramFiles%;
  • These locations: the same as in Locations to search, only this time every location specified will not be searched.


Figure 3.2: New PST Search – Locations to Search

If we were importing a big amount of data in a live environment, we would probably set the import to run over night. In this case, I am setting it to No schedule (run manually) and will start the search manually when I am ready:


Figure 3.3:
New PST Search – Scheduling the Import

The final step is only to set a meaningful name for the search, if desirable. You can leave it with the default name which is made of your domain name and the current time. In my case, I will call it First PST Search:


Figure 3.4:
New PST Search – Summary

Once you click on Finish, you will return to the main window but on a new tab regarding the new search we just created:


Figure 3.5:
Ready to Search

Before progressing further, I must apologize for the quality of some pictures, but the console doesn’t let me resize the window to an appropriate size suitable for screenshots…

We are now ready to search the computers we selected previously for any PST files. However, notice that the Status column says “No contact from agent since (…)”:


Figure 3.6:
Agents’ Status

There are many reasons for this to happen, but the most common ones are:

  • The computers have been turned off;
  • The firewall is blocking the communication;
  • The agent’s service is not running.

Once you fixed the issue, all you should see in the Status column is “Not started”.

When you are ready to start the search, click on the Search All Now button. While the search is running, you can keep track of its progress by looking at the Not started, In progress and Completed labels:


Figure 3.7:
Search Progress

Once it is complete, we get a list of all PSTs that were found together with their location, size, computer, owner, and when they were created and last modified:


Figure 3.8:
First PST Search Completed

In my case the tool found 10 PSTs, 4 belonging to BUILTIN\Administrators and 6 to LETSEXCHANGE\nuno. The first ones belong to Administrators because I used my admin account to export a couple of mailboxes to PST from Exchange and the other ones I used nuno’s account together with Outlook.

If you want to change any option regarding this search, you don’t have to create a new search from scratch. Simply click in Edit PST Search… at the top which will allow you to edit the current search by taking you through the 4 steps we just completed (Figures 3.1 to 3.4).

In case you get a list of dozens of PST files, it might help if you select an individual computer. This will make the display pane below only show PSTs found on that computer:


Figure 3.9:
Individual Computer Selected

Now that I have found all the PSTs in my organization, at least all the ones in the computers where I installed an agent, let’s import them to Exchange. For this test, I am going to select 3 PSTs:


Figure 3.10:
Select PSTs to Import

Then we click in New Import List… and select the OnPrem Import List option. This will create a list of all the PST files to import to an on-premises Exchange environment (we will see how to import to a mailbox in Office 365 in the next article).


Figure 3.11:
New Import list

As I mentioned before, we can also add PSTs directly to an existing import list from computers that don’t have an agent installed, like a NAS device. To do this, click in Add From Folder…, browse to the location where the PST you want to import is located, select the PST file and then click Open. Remember that you can also use UPN shares as well as mapped network drives.


Figure 3.12:
Import from the Network

In this example, the first PST I added by manually specifying a UNC path while the third one is a local PST file. You can easily differentiate PSTs that were manually added as these don’t have any information regarding the Computer where they are from.

I tried to use a mapped network drive, but I always got the error message “You cannot add files from a network share that the Administrator cannot access using her own credentials” no matter what permissions I gave my service account. Even after I made svc_PSTCapture a member of the Domain Admins group it wouldn’t work…

Next, we need to specify to which mailbox each PST will get imported to. To achieve this, we have a couple of options. The first one is to use the Set to File Owner button which will set the Destination Mailbox attribute the same as what is displayed in the File Owner column.

In my case, however, I created a few PSTs under my admin account but I want to import them to another user’s mailbox so this option is not the best one. What I have to do is set them manually by clicking in Set mailbox… which will give us a list of available mailboxes to choose from. You can do one PST at a time or multiple at a time by pressing Ctrl and selecting the ones you want to import into the same mailbox.


Figure 3.13:
Set Destination Mailbox

In this case I am selecting which mailbox I want to import the CEO_Mailbox2012.pst file to as you can see from the screenshot above. I select [email protected] and click OK.

If you realize you don’t want to import a PST from the list anymore, right-click on it and select Remove from List.

Once you set where to import all PSTs they will be no longer highlighted in red:


Figure 3.14:
Ready to Import

We are now ready to import these PST files. When you click on the Import All Now button all settings are saved and made available for the agents. Once they poll this information, the import process will begin. The Central Service will start by requesting the PST files from the agents and copy them to the staging area on the PST Capture host computer:


Figure 3.15:
Downloading PSTs


Figure 3.16:
Copying PSTs to the Staging Area

From the screenshot above, we can see that the Central Service is copying the PSTs to C:\PSTStaging as we set previously in the options.

If you double-click on any import in the lower panel, you will be able to see further details such as the number of messages and folders being imported and/or any possible errors:


Figure 3.17:
Import Progress

Once the import is complete, it is time to analyze the results. In my case, 1 PST was successfully imported while the other 2 failed with the error “Mailbox (…) has no archive mailbox”. If you remember, in the Archive Mailbox Settings in the second article of this series (Figure 2.18), we set the tool to not import any PSTs if the user is not enabled for archiving. So this is the expected behavior:


Figure 3.18:
Import Completed with Errors

If we login to Nuno’s mailbox and have a look at his Archive, we will see a folder called Nuno_Mailbox_2012 (the same as the PST filename) with all the contents of the PST we just imported:


Figure 3.19:
Import Results

In case we wanted to retry the 2 imports that failed, we don’t need to go through the whole process from the start – just right-click on the failed ones and select Move to Import List so you can try again.

If, for example, you want to import the same PSTs to a different mailbox, you will see that the PSTs you just imported (or tried to) are grayed out:


Figure 3.20:
Greyed Out PSTs

In this case, you have to go back to Home, delete the Import List that includes these PSTs by clicking on the big X, go back to the search and refresh the view.


Figure 3.21:
Delete Import List


In this article we searched and imported PST files. In the next and final part we will see how (or if!) the tool works with Exchange 2007 and Office 365. We will then finish with some troubleshooting and how to resolve common issues.

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Scroll to Top