Product Review: Lepide Exchange Manager

Product: Lepide Exchange Manager

Product Homepage: http://www.lepide.com/exchange-manager/

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Introduction

Exchange Manager is developed by Lepide Software, which was founded in 2004 and has, over the years created software tools that assist with Active Directory, Exchange and a range of other products that assist with Enterprise-level IT management.

For old timers who have worked with Exchange for the past 10 to 15 years and dealt with all that goes into the backup and recovery of servers, mailboxes or individual mail items, Exchange Manager is going to be like a ray gun in the hands of a cowboy. In working with it I couldn’t help but say “I wish I had this 10 years ago!” because it makes locating and working with Exchange data as simple as Source-Destination-Done.

Whether you are dealing with a corrupt database that you need to grab data from and move to a PST or another Exchange database, or performing an entire Exchange migration, Exchange Manager reaches right into your source EDB and allows you to see the full hierarchy of the database, including right into individual mailboxes and items within. It does all of this without performing a brick level backup of individual mailboxes.

Let’s look at the installation side and then we can discuss specific usage cases.

Installation and Quick Use

The installation was as easy as NNF (next-next-finish) with one minor hiccup that was actually my own fault. Exchange Manager works best with a system that has Outlook installed on it. Depending on the flavor of Exchange you are working with (2000/2003/2007/2010) there are recommendations on the version(s) of Outlook required. You can install Exchange Manager on everything from a desktop OS (XP, Vista, Windows 7) or directly on the Server (2000, 2003/R2, 2008/R2) keeping in mind the need for Outlook as well for it to work smoothly.

Once installed and the application comes up, you are presented with a very simple (in a good way) management screen, shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: The Exchange Manager primary dashboard

You’ll note in the top left that there are two buttons ‘Add Source’ and ‘Add Destination’. Choosing ‘Add Source’ allows you to select one of the following options (shown in Figure 2):

  • Offline EDB File
  • Offline OST File
  • Outlook PST File
  • Live Exchange (Single Mailbox)
  • Live Exchange (Multiple Mailboxes)


Figure 2: Choosing your data Source

In my case I grabbed for an offline EDB file on my Exchange 2010 Server. The database didn’t have a ton of data in it but I was still impressed with how fast it grabbed it and loaded it into the Source List pane. Once you have your Source data up in the Source List dialog pane you can choose your Destination option (shown in Figure 3):

  • Existing PST File
  • Create New PST File
  • Live Exchange (Single Mailbox)
  • Live Exchange (Multiple Mailbox)


Figure 3: Adding your Destination

Once you have your source and destination in place you can search for the specific message you need through a very robust search feature that is built in (shown in the Figure 4) or, if you know what you are looking to copy or export you can simply right-click it and choose Copy (Folder or Item) to just copy it over to the destination or choose Export Message(s) to be used for import.


Figure 4: The robust Search options

Note:
The Search options include everything from To/From search, to subject and message text searches to specialty searches (items with flag, item type, items with attachments, etc…) to specific message sizes and/or dates. And you can exclude duplicates if you wish.

One additional feature is a Report option (shown in Figure 5) that allows you to select from the Folder List and select one or more Report Types to generate.


Figure 5: The Report feature

After performing a variety of different tests it was obvious that everything worked just as reported and as smoothly and swiftly as I had ever seen before. The benefits of a tool like this in your Exchange environment is clear to see especially if you have ever had to work with a backup/recovery solution that required the installation of special agents to perform this type of brick level backup and restore or if you have ever had to use a recovery server to locate that one email message that slipped past the Deleted Items retention time. But let’s consider a few usage scenarios.

Specific Usage Cases

One of the obvious usage cases for a tool of this sort is in the event I mentioned above where a person deletes an item or a mailbox is deleted by an administrator and the deleted mailbox/item retention time has been exceeded. Unless you have a brick level backup/restore solution in place you might be looking for your backup EDB to be restored to a recovery system and then start looking to move over the data needed. With Lepide Exchange Manage (LEM) you can have the backup EDB as the source and recover the data over to a PST or directly into the working mailbox(s). You read correctly… no recovery server needed and no brick level backup required to search and restore specific mailboxes or emails from backup.

Another scenario is where the Exchange database has become corrupt. Typically you are looking at a restore from backup but in the event there is data in the corrupt database that must be acquired immediately, LEM has the ability to reach into a corrupt database and extract the data over into a PST, which can then be accessed by Outlook directly. That can be a real life saver if that email data is essential for a deal to be closed that day or there is some essential information that has perhaps been deleted from a person’s Outlook (or perhaps the database went corrupt before they were able to receive the important message from it to their Outlook). In addition, if the backup happens to also be corrupt, LEM has the ability to grab that data and restore it into a new database.

You might also use LEM to perform migrations or to export mailbox data to PSTs in the event that some employees that are relocating from one place to another. You might also use LEM to perform legal discovery of data where that data may span multiple years and be strewn across various backup EDB files that have been backed up. While there exists modern methods of archiving and such, if the data required legally goes back several years (prior to your company implementing a modern compliance method) you will be tasked with the chore of locating that data. Using LEM with the Search capabilities can make that nightmare into less of one.

Note:
LEM can also take data from OST files and move these to PST files for access.

Pricing and Support

The website pricing says there are two models: perpetual and subscription. The functionality of the product is the same regardless of which model you choose, however perpetual starts at $799 and subscription starts at $349 (which will require renewal to continue). There is a ‘Request for Quote’ option on the site and I would recommend you just ask for a quote and discuss the sale with a person directly.

As for support, I often judge a company with regard to support based upon, first of all, how much support the product needs and how much is provided easily online. I prefer NOT to have to call a company if I can just figure it out on my own. I found this product easy to install and work with all on my own. But I cannot take all the credit because there was a 5 minute video that is on the site combined with plenty of screenshots that really help you to see every aspect of the product and how you can use it within your organization. I found the product to work exactly as advertised and the online support to be sufficient (more than sufficient, excellent) for any Exchange admin to work with.

Final Thoughts

I can honestly say I loved this product. Personally, I was the Exchange 5.5/2000 backup/recovery training expert for CommVault Systems back ten years ago and, more recently, completed a backup/recovery course for TrainSignal. Brick level backups and/or recovery servers are just ancient solutions when you have the ability to easily reach into a database and grab the data you need as you can with Exchange Manager.

I’m confident giving Lepide Exchange Manager the Gold Award it deserves. There is a Feature Request button on their web site and I pondered that for a moment, wondering ‘is there anything missing, or anything more I would like to see here?’ and, in this case, no… the product is solid and smooth.

MSExchange.org Rating 4.9/5


For more information about Lepide Exchange Manager click here

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