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Moving Mailboxes between sites

Posted on 2002-04-03
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
My client has an Exchange 5.5 organization with several sites each site being a branch office. One of the branches has been closed down and all the users and computers move to head office.  I have been asked to decommission the branch’s aging Exchange 5.5 server and transfer mailboxes, public folders, directory in short everything to the Head Office Exchange 5.5 server. Can anyone advise me on how to do this ? is there  some sort of migration tool  I can use ? Bear in mind that it ‘s transferring stuff from one site to another  not just between two servers in the same site .
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Question by:AlanT
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by:jpmarten
ID: 6915551
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jpmarten earned 200 total points
ID: 6915553
First of all, I know there are third party apps that actually can move mailboxes between sites.  I have do not have any references for them, but I know they exist.

If you want to do it manually.
Use exmerge to pull the data out of the current server to pst files. Then, after you do the directory exports below, you do the second step of exmerge to get the data into the new store.

Run a directory export using the mailbox.csv, dl.csv and custom.csv on the Exchange 5.5 disc.

Run the exports in any order that you want.  When you do the imports into the new server, make sure you have imported all the mailboxes and custom recipients before you import the distribution export file.

Mailbox.csv
Run the directory export using the mailbox.csv template.
·     Open the csv file in Excel.
o     Remove all entries under Email Addresses
o     Remove all entries under Home Server
o     Remove all under Alternate Recipient
o     Remove all under Obj-Container
o     Remove all under Obj-Dist-Name
o     Change the Domain name to reflect new domain within the two colums:  Obj-Users and Primary Windows NT Account
·     Copy manipulated csv file to new Exchange server
·     Run the Directory import - Make sure and choose the correct recipients container
o     If you need to create Windows NT accounts, put a check mark in “Create Windows NT Account.  DO NOT check generate random password
§     The password that is created for the account is the same as the username.  The client is prompted to change the password at first log in.
·     If there are errors, view the event viewer to find out what mailboxes failed to be created.

Open up the administrator mailbox that was created when you installed Exchange with a Mapi client.  Exp:  Outlook or Exchange client
·     Send an email to all the users that you just imported.  --  This is prep for the 2nd step of Exmerge.

Distribution Lists
Run the directory export with the dl.csv template to export your distribution lists.
·     Open the csv file in Excel.
o     Remove all entries under Email Addresses
o     Remove all entries under Home Server
o     Remove all under Obj-Container
o     Remove all under Obj-Dist-Name
o     Remove all entries under Accept Messages from
o     Change the Domain associated with the accounts on the following columns:
§     Owner
§     Obj-Users
§     Obj-Admins
Example original user is domainA\johndoe, change that to domainB\johndoe

Custom Recipients
Run the directory export using the custom.csv template
§     Open the csv file in Excel.
o     Remove all entries under Email Addresses
o     Remove all entries under Obj-Container
o     Remove all entries under Obj-Dist-Name

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by:AlanT
ID: 6915751
Thank you ipmartin for providing such a detailed answer.  Where do I find the exmerge utility ? You explain very clearly how to amend the Excel spreadsheet so that information like e-mail addresses etc are removed am I right in thinking that these will have to be manually added back once the mailboxes have been migrated. Can I use exmerge to migrate the public folders that are homed on the branch Exchange Server as well ?

 
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by:jpmarten
ID: 6915774
Public folders will have to be done by a client connecting to the public folder and copying the contents to a pst file.

The items that are removed from the export are automatically regenerated by the new server.

Your plan should be this:
Run the directory Exports
Do the changes and then import into the new server.
Run Exmerge to get the data out
Get on the new server for them and send a test message to each of the people that their directory object was moved over.
Run the 2nd step of exmerge.

If you send me your email address I can send you the executable, the version on your 5.5 disc is old and there is a much newer version.
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by:jrbrown
ID: 6916133
Hello Alan-

The way I see it, you have three alternatives.

I:Exmerge
This is a great tool but it can be time consuming, depending on how many mailboxes you have and how large they are. Exmerge requires each mailbox to be backed up into a .pst file before allowing you to import it into the new Exchange server/Organization. As you may or may not know, exporting e-mails into a .pst file requires the messages to be stored in both ascii and rich text format, essentially meaning the .pst file can be twice the size as the mailbox stored in it's native Exchange format on the server. Keep this in mind if moving mailboxes in bulk, as you will need double the space each mailbox takes up. This tool doesn't move public folders either, so at some point, you will need to export the folders and import them into the new organization.

II:Move Server Wizard
This tool can be found on Microsoft's SP3 and SP4 CDs. It doesn't move public folders either. However, it can remove an Exchange server from its existing organization and connect it to a new or to another existing organization. In other words, you will join the server to an existing site or create a new site in this new organization. This is much quicker than Exmerge. It does require you to become somewhat familiar with the tool though but doing so is to your advantage. You will still need to export/import public folders and highly likely before using Exmerge. Once Exmerge is used, the public folders are useless!

III:NetIQ's Exchage Migrator
I'm sorry I can't give you more details about this tool. I am currently learning about it as I am expected to consolidate Exchange 5.5 organizations within my company. However, I would be glad to share the whitepaper I just got this week from NetIQ. The tool itself requires you too contact NetIQ for trail period access codes that allow you to activate the software. In all honestly, you're probably better off just downloading it and getting the access codes yourself. You have to fill out an online form with contact information. So far, someone contacted me via e-mail and sent the access codes. I haven't been bagdered into buying it. I don't even know pricing at this point. What I can tell you is that it does more than both the move server wizard and exmerge. You can migrate distribution lists, custom recipients, mailboxes, and public folders. Get this, it can even retain the permissions! To my, this is a GODSEND. Migrating our public folders would take forever. So, naturally I would perfer a three day weekend compared to a 1-3 month migration using Exmerge and the Move Server Wizard; this again, depends on the size of your pub/priv ISs though.
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by:jpmarten
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Do not use Move server wizard is all I have to say.  There are too many issues with that program.
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by:jrbrown
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I would first migrate the servers to be decomissioned to the new organization using option I or option II. I'm pretty sure option II should require a 3 day weekend or less. Once in the new organization, I would migrate mailboxes from that server to other servers in the new organization. This would allow you to decommission the server at your own leasure, if time is not an issue.

One more thing to keep in mind, whether using option II or III, do not move the "first server in your site" before the other servers (if you have more than one) without consulting Q152959.

You might want to clarify how many servers reside in your location to be decommissioned as well as what they do (i.e. Server A has mailboxes and public folders; Server B has only connectors to the internet; Server C has mailboxes and public folders. You also may want to indicate which server is your global address book server &/or how big the databases are on each server. That way, we can offer more advice.

Last thing, I have used the move server wizard a total of four times without incident. However, I can tell from the comment above someone wasn't as lucky. I can tell you this much, the move server wizard is ideal for a small-medium location versus a medium-large location that uses Exchange extensively. In our case, our Private and Public folders are equally 35Gigs a piece. So you can imaging moving the public folders with anything but NetIQ's tool would be a long project; especially having to reapply permissions!
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by:AlanT
ID: 6917849
I am very impressed by the response to this question. Thanks to your advice ipmartin and irbrown I have gone from not knowing where to start to having a number of options.

ipmarten I would like to take up your thoughtful offer of the latest Exmerge - my e-mail address is alant@walton5.demon.co.uk.  


irbrown  To answer your questions. The Head office site has one server called Alpha and the Branch has one server called beta. Beta has 93 mailboxes  varying in size from a few k to half a GB. Alpha is the Global address book server. And I hope this doesn’t matter but Alpha is a Windows 2000 member server Beta is a Windows NT 4.0 BDC.


I was thinking of doing the  migration next weekend but am taking heed of your advice that it could take a 3 day weekend so might now  put it off until the next public holiday weekend. I am going to set up a couple of test boxes to try out the methodology before proceeding with the real thing.
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by:jpmarten
ID: 6917868
Exmerge is on it's way to you.
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by:jrbrown
ID: 6918057
I'm sorry AlanT-

The first paragraph of my last response should indicate I would try option II or option III as my primary choice.

You will definitely need a three day weekend or more, performing option I. If you are writing each user's .pst file to the local Exchange server, you will get better performance versus writing their .pst files over the network to a file server/client machine; the performance IS terrible. Especially if you have to export to this location and import from this location. Also, Exmerge requires you to either manually delete the .pst files or configure the utility itself to do so after the migration. If you turn this option on, the deletion occurs directly after the migration completes or essentially between each migrated users (if moving users in bulk) Thus, adding a little more time to an already timely job.

Using Exmerge, you must remember to use the Exchange service account or an account with this level of permissions because it allows access to all mailboxes by default. Next, Exmerge creates the .pst file exports based on the ALIAS NAME for each mailbox. In order to prepare the new server for import, you will need to create new and empty mailboxes for each user. Not sure but I believe you have to log on to each new mailbox once to initialize it, before you can begin the import process. So if you're importing in bulk, you will need to initialize all new mailboxes in bulk. When you import the .pst files, Exmerge is going to MATCH the name of the .pst file to each new mailboxes ALIAS NAME. In other words, if the alias for the old mailbox is JRBROWN, the .pst file is created as JRBROWN.pst, and when you import -Exmerge is looking for a new mailbox with the ALIAS of JRBROWN. If your aliases don't match between the two organizations, rename the .pst file to match the new system prior to import.

Hopefully, I will be using the Exchange Migrator to consolidate my Exchange 5.5 sites. I forgot to mention previously that one of our sites is migrating to a new Exchange 5.5 Organization. Prior to doing this, we will integrate brand new hardware into the new Organization. Then, we'll use the Move Server Wizard or Exchange Migrator to move the old hardware over. Next, all mailboxes will be migrated from the old hardware to the new hardware using the native Exchange tool. Last, the old hardware will be decommissioned. Therefore, applying the same advice I have given you regarding option II or III.

I can honestly tell you this, Exmerge would be my second choice. Move server wizard would've been number one if time was an issue and I didn't have time to learn the Exchange Migrator (pros/cons). In either case, I can guarantee using the MSW or EM to relocate the server, then using Exchange Administrator's built-in move mailbox utility would afford better use of your time. I would also speculate it takes the same amount of time to become familiar with Exmerge, as it does MSW or EM.

Regardless of the option picked, plan for a three day weekend. This allows enough time to right things in case problems occur. Exmerge & MSW are both Microsoft supported tools. EM is NetIQ's. Just offering advice. No pressure.
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by:jrbrown
ID: 6919038
I'm sorry AlanT-

The first paragraph of my last response should indicate I would try option II or option III as my primary choice.

You will definitely need a three day weekend or more, performing option I. If you are writing each user's .pst file to the local Exchange server, you will get better performance versus writing their .pst files over the network to a file server/client machine; the performance IS terrible. Especially if you have to export to this location and import from this location. Also, Exmerge requires you to either manually delete the .pst files or configure the utility itself to do so after the migration. If you turn this option on, the deletion occurs directly after the migration completes or essentially between each migrated users (if moving users in bulk) Thus, adding a little more time to an already timely job.

Using Exmerge, you must remember to use the Exchange service account or an account with this level of permissions because it allows access to all mailboxes by default. Next, Exmerge creates the .pst file exports based on the ALIAS NAME for each mailbox. In order to prepare the new server for import, you will need to create new and empty mailboxes for each user. Not sure but I believe you have to log on to each new mailbox once to initialize it, before you can begin the import process. So if you're importing in bulk, you will need to initialize all new mailboxes in bulk. When you import the .pst files, Exmerge is going to MATCH the name of the .pst file to each new mailboxes ALIAS NAME. In other words, if the alias for the old mailbox is JRBROWN, the .pst file is created as JRBROWN.pst, and when you import -Exmerge is looking for a new mailbox with the ALIAS of JRBROWN. If your aliases don't match between the two organizations, rename the .pst file to match the new system prior to import.

Hopefully, I will be using the Exchange Migrator to consolidate my Exchange 5.5 sites. I forgot to mention previously that one of our sites is migrating to a new Exchange 5.5 Organization. Prior to doing this, we will integrate brand new hardware into the new Organization. Then, we'll use the Move Server Wizard or Exchange Migrator to move the old hardware over. Next, all mailboxes will be migrated from the old hardware to the new hardware using the native Exchange tool. Last, the old hardware will be decommissioned. Therefore, applying the same advice I have given you regarding option II or III.

I can honestly tell you this, Exmerge would be my second choice. Move server wizard would've been number one if time was an issue and I didn't have time to learn the Exchange Migrator (pros/cons). In either case, I can guarantee using the MSW or EM to relocate the server, then using Exchange Administrator's built-in move mailbox utility would afford better use of your time. I would also speculate it takes the same amount of time to become familiar with Exmerge, as it does MSW or EM.

Regardless of the option picked, plan for a three day weekend. This allows enough time to right things in case problems occur. Exmerge & MSW are both Microsoft supported tools. EM is NetIQ's. Just offering advice. No pressure.
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by:AlanT
ID: 6920544
Thanks for the advice irbrown. I didn't realise that you had to create empty mailboxes prior to the migration that might not be workable in my situation. I am putting the real migration on hold until the next Bank Holiday weekend - I have manage to pesuade my boss that he is going to pay for the extra overtime !

I have set up two test boxes to simulate the problem and will try out both the Exmerge and Move Server methods. I will report back about how I got on some time next week.
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by:jrbrown
ID: 6920679
You're welcome AlanT. If you decide to use Exmerge, use it from the Exchange server. Using it from a desktop diverts its network activity through your machine. In other words, if you're exporting .pst files to a file server, the traffic goes from Exchange, through your desktop machine, then to the file server. Hence, part of the reason why it takes so long. Hopefully, NOW you have enough information to make educated decisions on how you will plan/complete your task. Good Luck! Meanwhile, I can send you the white paper on NetIQ's Exchange Migrator if you e-mail me at:

javier.brown@covance.com
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by:jpmarten
ID: 6920707
AlanT, the exports that I mentioned at the start of this discussion remedies the situation for matching aliases.  You export from current server, make the changes I outlined, and then import into the new server.  You will want to then log in via a client and send a test message to each user that you just imported.  Then you run the 2nd step of the exmerge.
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by:AlanT
ID: 6935203
Thought you might like to know how I got on. I tried using both Exmerge and Move Server on some test boxes. For this particular case I have decided to use Exmerge  and instead of doing all the users in one weekend I am going to do them a team ( about 8 per team) at time in the working week because  it makes it easier to handle the client end i.e. connecting the users to the new server and recreating all the permissions delegations etc. Better than having the Helpdesk guys swamped with dozens of calls. I should probably have explained that a lot of these user are a bit senior and have to be "indulged".   But in a few months time I will be doing a much larger migration for which I will probably use Move server.

You have both been so helpful that I have increased the points to 400 with the intention of  sharing them between you - 200 each.  Any idea how I go about splitting the points ?

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by:AlanT
ID: 6935210
Well I tried to increase to 400 points but the server imposes a maximum limit of 300 and would not let me do it. I wonder how I go about giving you 200 points each ? It must be possible - do either of you know how ?
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by:jpmarten
ID: 6935216
Sure don't man, thanks for the offer :-)
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by:AlanT
ID: 6937634
I will ask EE support to sort out hte points and close the question
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by:Moondancer
ID: 6937788
Greetings.

I have changed this question value to 200 points, refunding the other 100 points to you to facilitate the point split you requested.  I also left details in the Community Support question you posted on the process.

Please let me know if more is needed.

Moondancer  -  EE Moderator
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by:AlanT
ID: 6938713
ipmartin I will accept one of your comments as an answer there by awarding you 200 points. irbrown  I have opened up a second question for you to collect your points the url is
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qManageQuestion.jsp?ta=exchangesvr&qid=20288602

Thanks for your help everyone
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by:jpmarten
ID: 6938716
Thanks :)
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