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Alexander Zammit has been developing server applications for over 15 years. Most of his works involve Exchange integrated applications, including a FAX server, a mail security product and anti-spam products.
PSTs have troubled Administrators for many years. So Microsoft tools dealing with PST management are certain not to go unnoticed. Today we take a look at PST Capture, a tool that Microsoft acquired and is now making available for free.
Last January Microsoft released PST Capture, a tool for searching and importing PST files. Microsoft Partners have been providing tools like this for a long time. However, quite obviously the MS logo and a zero price tag make a big difference. So here we are with our PST Capture introductory article.
PST Capture is basically made of two main components, the Central Service and a number of Agents. Agents are installed on user machines to search for PSTs. Any discovered PSTs are passed to the Central Service for importing into Exchange.
You will find the list of system requirements at the PST Capture Download page. Here I want to expand a bit on these requirements focusing mostly on what is NOT supported.
Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 are the minimum supported client and server platforms. This immediately leads to the first point, Windows XP is not supported.
Not supported does not necessarily mean "does not work". In the forums I found someone claiming that he was running PST Capture on Windows XP SP3 just fine. So I tried to install the PST Capture Agent on XP myself. The installation failed immediately without giving me any useful information.
That is as far as I got on XP. If your experience is different, please post a comment.
The next requirement worth discussing is the supported Exchange versions. PST Capture supports Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange Online (Office 365).
Exchange 2007 is not supported, but not all hope is lost in this case. Ankur Kothari (MSFT) in a comment on the Exchange Team Blog says that the tool was simply not tested on Exchange 2007. Other comments implied that the tool should work. I did not test Exchange 2007 myself yet. Will let you know if I do. Again if you are running PST Capture with Exchange 2007 please post a comment.
The last requirement I want to highlight here is the need for Outlook 2010 x64 on the machine where the PST Capture Central Service is to be installed.
For a complete list do make sure to check the system requirements at the PST Capture Download page.
Before starting the installation it is good to check the permissions PST Capture requires. I will not reproduce this information here. Just check the list under Permissions Considerations for PST Capture.
Here I will just remind you how to check for the necessary RBAC roles that on-premise imports require. PST Capture on-premise imports require the Organization Management and Public Folder Management roles.
Start by opening the Exchange Control Panel. You can launch this from the Exchange Management Console | Tools | Role Based Access Control (RBAC) User Editor
This will open the browser taking you straight to the Control Panel login screen. Logon using an Exchange Administrative account (more details in Exchange 2010 OWA - Exchange Control Panel).
From here move to Roles & Auditing | Administrator Roles. Scroll through the roles list and in turn open the Organization Management and Public Folder Management roles.
In the details page make sure that the account to be used by the PST Capture Central Service is listed as a member of these roles.
The PST Capture download page includes three MSI files.
PSTCapture.msi - PST Capture Central Service and the configuration console.
PSTCaptureAgent.msi/PSTCaptureAgent_x86.msi - PST Capture Agent for x64 and x86 platforms respectively.
If you did your homework correctly before starting, the installation should be very straight forward.
We start from the Central Service (PSTCapture.msi). Here I did this installation on an SBS 2011 machine. I know that SBS users like to be assured that tools used in standard Exchange installations can be safely employed in their environment and this is why I made all my testing on SBS.
You can click your way hitting 'Next' through all the steps. The only step worth highlighting is the one where we specify the service credentials.
Here I supply an account having the RBAC roles discussed earlier. This will later allow me to perform on-premise imports.
Next we need to install the Agent on the user machines to be searched for PSTs. In general you will want to push this to all machines running Outlook, however don't forget that the minimum supported platform is Windows Vista.
Again running the install manually is intuitive with only one step worth discussing:
This step identifies the machine where the Central Service was installed plus the TCP port to which the service is listening. Unless you changed the default configuration of the Central Service, you should keep the default 6674 port setting here.
This completes the installation of PST Capture. Next we should configure the Central Service and start searching for PSTs. With the returned list of user machines and PSTs, we will be ready to complete the process and import the emails back to Exchange. We will walk through this in the second part of this article.
Working with PST Capture
PST Capture Download
PST Capture TechNet Documentation
.PST, Time to Walk the Plank
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