Need assistance with Exchange 2010 SP3: Export user mailbox by date prior and remove from mailbox after export

Greetings all, I have a dilemma and would like to see if anyone here has a solution to my need.
My company has never enforced any kind of quota or retention policy on our email system, (mostly due to user pushback).  This has resulted in us having roughly 6TB of storage used by the Exchange system for about 400 users.  Some of our largest mailboxes are approaching 90GB in size.  Myself and others in the IT dept here are finally getting approval to do something about it and since our management elected to not archive existing data offsite (citing continued cost of service as opposed to continuing to purchase more expensive SAN space to accommodate massive stale emails, as well as further degraded email performance), we now need to do this process in-house.  

Our plan was as follows:
1. Export user's mailbox to PST
2. Enact mailbox retention policy to delete all messages over 90 days
3. Store copy of PST on users PC as well as on cheap NAS for period of up to 3 years while users save any business related emails to our Document Management System
4. Restrict user's ability to save new emails to PST to get around retention policy if possible

I am able to export the content of a mailbox prior to a specific date, however, it doesn't remove from the mailbox, which prevents this being viable to do without user intervention.

Does anyone have a process they have used to do something like this in the past they could pass on?  We are wanting to get a good start on this before we get into November so we can possibly address the largest space abusers over the holiday breaks.  

Thanks for your future comments, suggestions, and hopefully solutions!

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ericd000Author Commented:
I also feel the need to add:

We do not have Enterprise CALS for all users, therefore aren't licensed to use Archive Mailbox in Exchange, which to my understanding has to be stored in the same database as the mailbox being archived, which won't work for us, since we'd run out of space pretty much immediately on the SAN.  Unless MS has changed that requirement in one of the later service packs. I don't recall seeing that in the change logs though.
Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
Due to some of the mailbox sizes you need to have multiple PST files 50GB is possible but not recommeneded. It is recommended to keep them around 20GB. It is also not a good idea to keep these PST's in a network location becasue you have a hire propability that there will be corruption.

Based on what you have said I would do the following...
- take a backup of the data
- export the mailboxes to PST
- Disable the mailbox and create a new Mailbox using the email address and x500 address on the new mailbox

This mitigates having to delete the content from the original one and starting net new.

Doing this you will need to ensure that you have the x500 addresses on the new mailboxes to ensure that no NRD happen when replying to old messages.

Store the PST locally for faster response and to prevent corruption.

ericd000Author Commented:
Thank you for the response Will.  I will bring up this option with my supervisor for discussion.  

We had already anticipated having to break up the larger mailboxes into multiple PST files.  The intention of the NAS location is as a backup to the copy on the user's machine, in the event the machine crashes, or gets corrupted, etc.  

This might be a bit disruptive to our users, since many have ActiveSync devices tied to their accounts.  Recreating mailboxes would probably kill those connections, forcing users (and by extension the helpdesk) to expend extra resources to get the impacted users back working on mobile devices.  Some have multiple tied to their accounts.  

I'm guessing this would necessitate rebuilding of their Outlook profiles as well, since the ID of the mailbox it connects to will change from what's stored in the machine's registry.   Not to mention breaking autocomplete cache and calendar/contacts from existing mailboxes.

Maybe I'm overthinking the process.  But I work for a bunch of attorneys (as in nearly 200,) who can get a bit irate when their email is down, even with prior warning.
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AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
I am dealing with same situation. First tell me, if these DB's are part of DAG?
ericd000Author Commented:
Yes, 3 MB node DAG with 3 node CAS Array. 2 each in Production, 1 in DR site.
Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
I'm guessing this would necessitate rebuilding of their Outlook profiles as well

IF you create a new mailbox then a new Outlook profile is required. I prefer this method because it is a clean slate going forward and i would highly recommend that you set quota and attachment size limits for this Exchange environment.

AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
First, remove PST solution from your mind completely. That's what we did for one of our customer.

1) First we educated user to clean up their mailbox and we gave then two weeks to perform clean. User performing maximum clean were awarded. I know, that sound bit crazy, but without reward no one is going to sit and clean up the mailbox.

2) We order new disk for our Exchange servers. We are using DASD. Added more DB's and load balanced the mailboxes.

3) Implemented retention policies to archive old data into Archive mailboxes.

4) Implemented mailbox limits.

5) Exclude db's from mailbox provisioning, where space is less than 20%.

6)  I am using circular logging for DAG DB's with no backups. Only backup I use is deleted item retention policy at db level.

You can review with your management and decide best route. However in current situation you need more space and db's.

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ericd000Author Commented:
I work for a largeish law firm, where "no one has time to clean up their mailboxes", as evidenced by the fact that we have given them 2+ years to get their mailboxes cleaned up already.  At this point we've reached critical mass where we cannot afford to keep expending new disk space on data that should be stored in our DMS, of which, some if not the majority of it already might be.  

If our firm was run by a typical CEO/CIO/CTO/CFO team, then we would have more leverage to mandate/force users to a path where we could start them over with a 'clean slate' per se, but given that the partnership (approximately 80 individuals currently, with another 60 some-odd associates) make the rules here, we can only present our options and get their consensus on what we can expect to be able to do based on what involves the least disruption and downtime for the legal staff, while taking into account current trial caseload.  Hence the reason that the decision to export & ingest PST into our external email archival service, and the main reason that our push to reduce mailbox sizes over the 5 years that I've been here hasn't been heeded.  So now our only recourse is to force it via the least abrasive means.  
Part of our plan is to implement 90 day mailbox retention policies once the PST is created.  In further discussion with our IT staff, we've decided to just rely on the retention policy to purge the messages after export. The policy will be turned on at a later time after the initial export, as all internal and external messages since 8/7 are being journaled to MimeCast.  While we would prefer to not deal with PST files at all in this regard, we pretty much have our hands tied as the powers that be decided against offsite archival via MimeCast's ingestion service, or acquiring an in-house archival solution.  

I thank you Will and Amit for your discussion and input, in a perfect world (well just not in the legal field) I'd more easily be able to take the steps you laid out.
AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
You are completely right. I know the pain. In my case, I am dealing with 30K users with nearly 120 TB DB size (30+DB's).

I also found one thing, which you might need to look. Legal hold. That also consume lot of space on Exchange servers. I have seen user with 50 GB recover deleted items.
ericd000Author Commented:
Amit, I appreciate your input.

We don't currently have legal hold enabled on any DBs or mailboxes.  We don't have enterprise CAL's for our users so the one time I had to enable it here, we had to shuffle users around and enable legal hold on a specific DB.  As for deleted items, we enabled a retention policy to delete after 90 days about 3 years ago, as part of the initial phases of this email policy change we are getting to the crux of right now.
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