Archiving Exchange messages in PST files

Posted on 2009-12-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Hello to all!

I want to archive messages from mailboxes in an Exchange 2003 Server. To archive messages, I'm going to use Exmerge, that removes the messages from the mailbox and saves it to the PST file.

I've install Microsoft Outlook 2003 in the server (exmerge needs it to save do the PST), but if the archiving session makes the PST grows bigger than 2 GB, it gets corrupted.

How can I avoid this and use a bigger PST without the risk of corruption?


Is there any other free solution to archive messages from mailboxes in Exchange 2003?

Question by:Abilis
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    Examine the mailbox sizes before you begin, and if a person has a mailbox that's say, 10GB, then break it down into chunks.   JSMITH2009.PST, JSMITH2008.PST, JSMITH2007Q1-Q2.PST, etc.

    Not sure that there's a free solution for this.  But once you begin doing this, you'll find what intervals you'll need to honor to keep the sizes manageable.  You can get a decent guesstimate of mailbox size right in Exchange System Manager.

    LVL 58

    Accepted Solution


    You're seeing this problem because Exmerge uses the ANSI PST format, rather than the newer Unicode format. The ANSI format has an upper file size limit of about 2GB, and then, as you state, corruption occurs. Using Exmerge, there is no work around this issue. If, however, you archive using Outlook 2003's Archive feature, you can save to newer Unicode files, which will grow ten times larger to 20GB.

    However, I would strongly advise you against using Exmerge or any form of PST file for archiving. I wrote an article a while ago which explains why you should avoid this like the plague:'t-use-PST-files.html.

    What are your reasons for doing this? To save space on the Exchange Server? Because you've hit your mailbox database limit? You should use a commercial archiving solution (such as Symantec Enterprise Vault or GFI MailArchiver, as discussed in the article) or find some other solution to your issue, rather than use PST files for archiving.

    >> I've install Microsoft Outlook 2003 in the server

    Finally, installing Outlook on an Exchange 2003 Server is NOT supported and could cause you potential issues. Please see

    LVL 58

    Expert Comment

    I have to admit, Tom's solution is rather interesting (break it down into different years), but I would still never recommend archiving to the PST format.

    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    I did that already, but there are to many mailboxes with a lot of data inside. I'm asking right because it was not a good option.
    Any other suggestion?

    Thanks anyway.
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    nb: and I have to admit, tigermatt is right that PSTs are evil.  There's a darned good reason that pretty much EVERY archival product on the market includes, or sells as an add-on, a tool to scrape all the PSTs it finds on your network or in local machines back into the archive.  There are tons of reasons for this, but suffice it to say that it's not an accident.
    LVL 2

    Author Closing Comment

    Everything I needed to know about.

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