Microsoft recently launched a new version of their for-free PST Capture Tool, and has addressed some of the initial product’s shortcomings, not the least of which was a fixed 1000-user limit. This latest release continues to reinforce that Microsoft acknowledges what email administrators have known for years – that PST files are evil.
In the latest version of this tool – whose genesis was the former RedGate tool which Microsoft acquired some years back – many of the initial issues are addressed and a couple of new features added :
- Support for Exchange 2013 – keeping the tool up to date with Exchange versions.
- RPC over HTTP (Outlook Anywhere) User Profiles – allowing access to locked down or remote Exchange environments
- Resolved major issue – with import failures to Exchange Online.
However, users complain that V2.0 is still extremely slow when importing into Office 365 – a primary use for Microsoft’s PST Capture.
Unfortunately it’s not possible to upgrade the tool from V1.0 to V2.0 – it requires an uninstall of V1 and then a new install of V2, and most of the other problems from the initial V1.0 tool remain:
- Client Software Install – software must be installed on each client, and this is not an automatic process. For large organizations, this simply doesn’t scale.
- No scanning of shares – it is not possible to scan network shares unless the file server is running Windows (so common devices such as NAS boxes, NetApp Filers etc cannot be scanned).
- PST Ownership – there are two issues here. The first is that many PSTs show-up in the results with BUILTINAdminstrators as the owner, meaning a valid owner must be manually selected from the Global Address List. The second is that for orphaned PST files – i.e., those for whom there is no readily-identifiable owner – PST Capture does not attempt to identify the owner. Not only is this process highly manual, it’s a time and labour intensive challenge.
- Locked PST Files – most users have PST files open in their Outlook profile. PST Capture cannot process those because Outlook has a lock on them, putting an artificial constraint on PST migration (i.e., requiring that users close-down Outlook).
- Disconnecting / Deleting PSTs – PST Capture only imports PSTs – they remain in the original user’s profile. Deletion is a separate, manual process, and if these files are not deleted, users may end up with PST content showing up in several places. Furthermore, for large import projects, having to manually disconnect and remove thousands of users’ PSTs simply isn’t feasible.
This doesn’t mean PST Capture V2.0 isn’t a good tool – it is, and greatly improved – it just isn’t designed to handle enterprise-wide or large scale PST projects. Microsoft gives the tool away for a reason, simply that it’s not competitive with other purpose-built PST migration tools.
Enterprise-class customers who have evaluated Microsoft’s PST Capture Tool and found it lacking have had great success with C2C’s PST Enterprise solution. Unlike PST Capture, PST Enterprise is purpose-built to handle large-scale migrations, and provides the level of functionality necessary for organizations who are trying to migrate hundreds or thousands of PSTs. Some of the key features include:
- No client software install necessary – it runs from the network, in memory on the workstation with a very small footprint
- Automatic determination of ownership using 4 separate algorithms
- Multiple bandwidth throttling options to limit the impact on your network infrastructure
- Multiple client throttling options to limit the impact on your end user
- Intelligent controls to prevent mailbox overload
- Many criteria for select what data inside the PST you want to control
- Many actions that can be carried out on the data inside the PST (Delete, Move, Migrate, Copy)
- Backed by a company and product development team that have been working with PST projects for over 15 years