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Prevent "Writing" to a PST file...

Posted on 2003-12-03
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Last Modified: 2006-11-17
Does anyone know if there is a way to prevent Outlook from modifying a PST file.  I know about the issues of making the file "Read-Only", I'm more looking for a "permissions" of sorts.  I need to allow my users to view/copy items in their PST file without being able to add/delete/modify them.

Is this possible?
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Question by:DASchroeder
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jacks33 earned 250 total points
ID: 9870890
Microsoft states that the pst has to be writable,  see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 297019
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by:DASchroeder
ID: 9871206
Hence my comment:

I know about the issues of making the file "Read-Only", I'm more looking for a "permissions" of sorts.

I'm not asking if I can make it "Read Only" (file attribute) or if I can write it to a CD (which is the other common question).  I'm asking if there is a way to prevent someone from writing to the PST file with some sort of "permissions" or access restriction.

The situation is as follows:

We have a bunch of people with very large (300MB up to 1.5+GB) PST files.  These are stored on a network drive so that they can be backed up.  This is causing problems with accessing the files, and YES, I know that MS doesn't support PST files on over LAN or WAN links.

What we are planning on doing is eliminating the mailbox size restrictions on our Exchange Server and having our users start creating sub-folders under their inbox on the Exchange server instead of using PST files.  Rather than move messages back to the Exchange server from the PST files, we would like to move a "COPY" of their PST file to their local hard drive for them to access for "historical" purposes only.  We would leave the "disconnected" PST files on the network server so that they can stay backed up should a local hard drive fail or PST file get corrupt.

Here's the problem.  If the users have the ability to move things to their PST file...they will...even if we tell them that the file they are looking at is no longer backed up and any changes they make could be lost if the file gets damaged or deleted.  This is why I want to know if there is a way to make the files "view only".

Does that clear up the confusion any???
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by:jacks33
ID: 9871344
MS states that pst's MUST be readable and writable.  So you will not be able to make a archival pst as you suggest.  What you can do is keep the pst files on the client and then do a client backup to the server.  Then write the server backup to tape and there is your archive.  If you have to restore you just bring back the pst and open it up.  This also will allow you to clean up the server and the network.  Your users must be dying having to access the server everytime they do email.  Let the client do the dirty work on mail,  let your server just receive it and push it out.

thanks
jack
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by:DASchroeder
ID: 9871701
I can't have the clients doing backups to the network, my users would never stand for waiting while the PST file copies to the network (when they close outlook for instance).  Some of these files are over a gig, waiting for that to copy (even at 100Mbps) would be more painful to them.

Actually, until a few days ago, performance of the PSTs over the network was not that bad.  Now, all of a sudden, the PST files are "disconnecting" for no apparent reason.  One minute you'll be able to use it and the next it will say that it can't access the file.  Closing Outlook and reopening it will fix the problem temporarily.

I'm really surprised that there isn't an internal (to Outlook) way to flag a PST file as "closed" so that it can still be accessed but gives an error if you try to delete, modify or add to it.  I'm not looking to make the file "unwritable" to outlook, just make it so outlook won't let the use do the writing (if that makes sense).  If I truly can't do this, I'll be in for some fun when my users change their local PST, then it gets corrupt or deleted and the one I restore from backup is missing those changes.
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by:jacks33
ID: 9871714
Don't have them wait to do a backup.  Launch a xcopy or robocopy command through a script that they start at the end of the day.  do a CTRL,ALT,DELETE and lock the workstation.  There gone and there backup is working.  Just make sure they are out of outlook before they start the script, no open files.

thanks
jack
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by:DASchroeder
ID: 9871829
You're asking a lot.  Our plant is a 24x7 (3 shift) shop.  Many of the computers are logged in as different users at different times of the day.  This makes this entire setup a real PITA..which is why having the PST on the users network folder was ideal...it was available whereever they log in.

The scheduled copy commands won't work for 90% of our users.

Since it doesn't look like I can do what I originally wanted, lets look in a different direction...

When a message is moved out of the Exchange server and into a PST file...then...moved back to the Exchange server...the Single Instance Store is screwed up for that message...right?  I would just move the PST contents back to the Exchange server for all of my users if I thought that doing it would put the messages back the way they were originally.
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by:jacks33
ID: 9879127
You need Veritas or robocopy and some script writing  Using Veritas you can do a remote backup from the client to the server for the people that work on the first, second or third shifts.  While the first shift user is working the Veritas could be backing up 2nd and 3rd shifts data and so on.  You could also do this with the robocopy and AT commands as well but it won't be as pretty.  Although this will slow down the network a little with the movemnet of the files it will allow you that archival pst.  Actually it may not slow down that much since you were already sending the pst over the wire.

thanks
jack
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by:DASchroeder
ID: 9879388
For 275+ computers?!?!?! <yikes>  We have over 500 domain users and over 300 e-mail accounts...AT commands and individual backup job configuration would be a nightmare.
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by:DASchroeder
ID: 9883015
Scratch that...I just looked...we have 457 Exchange users here.

It's unfortumate that MS doesn't provide a way to make a PST file "read only" within the Outlook program.  I guess the functionality I'm after would be similar to that offered in Excel, where a file can be saved with settings that require a password in order to modify it, but it can still be viewed, printed, etc.  Anyone from MS listening...?
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