Configuring EXMERGE

To perform Brick-Level backups of one or more mailboxes found on one Exchange server follow these steps:

Create group called full_mailbox in Active Directory. Add group full_mailbox to Exchange system manager in the security with full control to each exchange server you wish to use exmerge on.

Create user exmergeadmin with membership to these groups

  1. Navigate to the \Exchsrvr\bin folder of your Exchange server and double-click EXMERGE.EXE.
  2. On the Welcome page click Next.

  1. On the “Procedure Selection” dialogue box, select “Export or Import (Two Step Procedure)”.

  1. On the “Two Step Procedure” dialogue box, select “Step 1: Extract data from and Exchange Server Mailbox”.

  1. In the “Source Server” dialogue box specify the name of your Exchange server. If you have a multiple domain environment you'll need to specify the name and LDAP port number of your Domain Controller. Click Next.

  1. In the “Database Selection” dialogue box select the mailbox store you want to perform the action upon.

Note: In a scenario where you only have one mailbox store you will not be presented with this page.

Click Next.

  1. In the “Mailbox Selection” dialogue box select individual mailboxes or press the “Select All” button to select all mailboxes found in that store. In this example I will only select one mailbox. Note that you can also see the mailbox size next to the mailbox name.

Click Next.

  1. On the “Locale Selection” dialogue box select the Locale that you would like to use to search the mailboxes.

Click Next.

  1. Specify the path to the folder where you want to place the .PST files. This folder should reside on a different HD that the one where your mailbox stores are located, but this is only a recommendation for performance benefits, not a must. Also, make sure you have enough free space on that partition.

Click Next.

  1. On the “Save Settings” dialogue box you can now save the settings you've configured so far, or you can just click Next. You can also chance the name and location of the files used by EXMERGE by clicking on the “File Names” button.

Note: Notice where you save these files. You can later modify the settings of the EXMERGE operation by simply altering some parts of these files.

For example, if you look at the contents of the MAILBOXES.TXT file, you'll see that you can easily add or remove mailboxes by adding or deleting rows in that file.

Take some time to explore these files, it's well worth spending a few minutes on them.

  1. After pressing Next the process will begin. This could take a considerable about of time depending on how many mailboxes you've selected and the size of the mailboxes.

Notice an example of a successful process:

If you get a window that states that there were one or more failures, such as this one:

then it's probably because of wrong permissions on the destination mailboxes. Re-read Grant Full Mailbox Rights to an Administrator on Exchange 2000/2003 and start from the beginning of the article.

Automating EXMERGE

You can easily automate the process of exporting the mailboxes to .PST files by running EXMERGE from the command prompt or from a simple batch file.

To perform automated Brick-Level backups of one or more mailboxes found on one Exchange server follow these steps:

  1. Run the steps outlined in the "Configuring EXMERGE" section above - up to step number 16. Do NOT press Next (i.e. do NOT perform step number 17).
  2. In step 16 make sure you save the EXMERGE configuration files in a convenient path, i.e. c:\EXMERGE\ or similar.
  3. Quit EXMERGE (i.e. do NOT perform step number 17).
  4. Notice that the saved files location (i.e. c:\EXMERGE\) holds a few files. At the minimum, it will hold the following files:

EXMERGE.INI
MAILBOXES.TXT

  1. Open the EXMERGE.INI file (with Notepad or similar) and notice how the EXMERGE settings are entered. In most cases you will not need to manually edit these settings, however make sure you read the following note:
  1. After you're satisfied with the changes you've made to the files (if any changes were made in the first place) you can now run the EXMERGE operation via the command line or through a simple batch file (which can also be scheduled by using the AT command):

EXMERGE -F C:\EXMERGE\EXMERGE.INI -B

  1. Note how the .PST file(s) will be added to the folder which was specified as the file location. Note that this process might take a considerable amount of time, all depending on the number and size of the mailboxes being exported. You ill not get a visual confirmation of the operation, and you will not be notified when it has ended, however, if you're in doubt, use Task Manager to see if the EXMERGE.EXE process is still running.

If you want to get a visual GUI you can add -D to the command, thus causing EXMERGE to display the GUI while running

EXMERGE -F C:\EXMERGE\EXMERGE.INI -B -D

Done. You will need to change the exmerge.ini file with the full name if going to another server for backup eg: DataDirectoryName =\\nrich1\f$\BRICK

Create a batch filled called brick.bat with the following lines replacing the server and drive with what ever is needed.

rmdir/S/Q \\nrich1\f$\brick
mkdir \\nrich1\f$\brick
d:\Exchsrvr\bin\exmerge.exe -F d:\Exchsrvr\bin\exmerge.ini –B

To setup in task manager create a new task with the following settings, make sure you use the run as exmergeadmin user and set the password and also add the user exmergeadmin to the security tab with full rights.

Restoring the mailboxes

You have several options when you need to restore mail from a mailbox’s .PST file. You can run EXMERGE in normal mode and select the .PST data by a range of dates or other criteria and restore them directly to any production mailbox.

Or you can copy the .PST file to the user’s local disk or make it available on a network share. Then, instruct the user to add Personal Folders to their Outlook Profile and add the .PST file when they do so. The user can then browse through the .PST file’s contents and retrieve the messages they are looking for.