We are currently planning the move to Exchange 2007 from a generic pop3 email server. I've read a few books on exchange, and it seems like most of technet to get ready for this. A question I keep running into.

What do I do with the old pst files? Do I import them into exchange? What about the large ones with years of data? Leave them as an archive locally for the user? Can I import only the last year of data? I believe I could with exporting, but is there an automated way to do it without touching every computer? And, what about space issues right up front? I'm going to limit mailbox sizes, but what if the user is over the limit just with the initial pst import?

Seems like a lot of questions all in one, but boils down to what do I do with the old pst files and what has worked for you?

Note: The pst files are all in Outlook 2003.


You could use ExMerge (official name: "Microsoft Exchange Server Mailbox Merge Wizard") to import PST Files. You can set some filters for the import, like the mailboxes to import and a date range.

Here is a good tutorial:

Exchange Server Tools: Use ExMerge To Import PST Files

If you have a modern server infrastructure and plenty of server resources, I would tend to import all data and forget about the pst files. It makes your handling (backups, ...) so much easier. Maybe you can think about letting your users clean their mailboxes before the import, so they can decide, what's important and must be kept, and what can be deleted.

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    ExMerge is not supported on Exchange 2007. It has been replaced by the Import-Mailbox and Export-Mailbox cmdlets. – ThatGraemeGuy Jun 5 '09 at 18:53

I haven't had to deal with a situation like this, but I would probably use the Import-Mailbox cmdlet to import from PST. I have used it in the past on a once-off basis and it works very well. You can use the StartDate and EndDate parameters to limit what is imported if desired.

If disk space allows, you could also start out with no limits on your mailbox store/s and import everything from the PSTs, then look at reducing mailbox sizes with a view to applying limits as required at a later date.


Before making this decision, I would make the decision about how you are going to handle disk space, quotas, archiving, etc. Then you make the conversion decision congruent with those policies.
--> My thoughts on this matter are here.

My recommendation ...
1- Decide on archiving and retention policies. How long are you saving what kind of email. When in doubt, go longer .. you can always reduce but once something is gone it is gone.

2- Implement a centralized email archiving system (such as GFI). There are a ton of them for Exchange, and they aren't that expensive.

3- Disable archiving in Outlook. This is easily done through Group Policy.

4- For current users, import the PST files into the Exchange mailbox, or into the archiving solution. Most Archiving solutions have a process for finding and grabbing PST files. I would put the PST files from terminated users into a folder on the network somewhere and ignore them until they are needed.

5- Run the archiving system.

If you are not willing or able to do an archiving system, do still import the PST files into the mailboxes for current users if possible. If not possible, I would find them and copy them to a central point on the server for retention. Then I would have each user open the PST in their Outlook manually.

As a side note .. if disk space is already a concern before implementation you are in for lots of problems.

Take care.



Project is near completion, spent a good weekend and week working through 120 users pst files. Here's what I did..

For small pst's. 0-300 Mb. I simply setup the exchange mailbox in their outlook and imported the pst into the exchange mailbox, and disconnected from the old pst. Easy, but very hands on. Feasible for 50 users, impossible for 1,000's.

For larger pst's I did 1 of 2 things. 1. if a VIP, I archived the pst to all but 3-6 months, and then followed the procedure for small pst's above. 2. For non-vip's. I used import-mailbox to import only the last 3 months, and then disconnected the old pst. This didn't give them a lot of old data, but in almost all cases it wasn't needed, and saved tons of archiving time.

Couple of points I learned. 1. Import using Outlook or the import-mailbox commandlet. Don't just copy. Just copying files creates a mess, doesn't deal well with calendars, tasks, and contacts. Importing is much cleaner. 2. It's best to have 1 Personal Folder in Outlook. Everything else should be archived. If not, you get multiple contacts, multiple calendars, and most pda sync programs tend to freak out and get confused. 3. Allot a lot of time for the project. It will always take longer than you expect.


Use exmerge utility provided by Exchange server to move and recover data from one location to another. You can also utilize import-export cmdlet for the same.

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