Exchange 2003 Move Mailbox

Over the next few weeks/months, I'll be looking at the new administration features in Exchange 2003. I'll start by looking at how the ability to move mailboxes in Exchange 2003 has been vastly improved.

Moving Mailboxes With ESM

The most obvious new feature is that you can now move mailboxes from within Exchange System Manager (ESM) in addition to the old method of using Active Directory Users & Computers. In ESM, you drill down to the mailbox store that contains the desired mailbox and underneath the mailbox store you'll find the Mailboxes object. Clicking this object reveals a list of mailboxes contained within the mailbox store. If you now right-click the mailbox you wish to move, you'll see the familiar Exchange Tasks menu, as shown below. Don't forget that you can select multiple mailboxes by holding down the CTRL or Shift keys, which is really useful if you need to move multiple mailboxes at the same time.

ESM Exchange Tasks

Multi-threaded Moves

Whilst on the subject of moving multiple mailboxes at the same time, this leads nicely onto one of the major performance benefits of moving mailboxes in Exchange 2003. The move mailbox task is now multi-threaded to the point where four mailboxes can be moved at the same time. Although you could select multiple mailboxes for moving in Exchange 2000, the actual move task occurred one after another; the new move mailbox task will actually move four mailboxes in parallel. If you are about to embark on your Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 migration project using the move mailbox method, you can already see that you should be able to generate significant savings in time during the move mailbox process.

Scheduling Your Moves

You can now schedule when your mailbox moves will take place, as shown in the figure below. The obvious benefit here is that you can set the move to occur during periods of low activity on your system. You'll also notice an option to cancel the move tasks that are still running after a certain time. The good thing about this is that if a mailbox is currently being moved when the finish time is reached, the messages are rolled back to the source server; all other mailboxes that have been moved will remain in their new location.

Schedule Moves

Handling Corrupted Items

One of the more annoying features of the Exchange 2000 move mailbox task was that if it failed to move one of a series of mailboxes, the entire process would stop. I bet that there's quite a few administrators out there who, like me, have kicked off the moving of a batch of mailboxes and then gone home, only to find out later on that the move mailbox task failed on mailbox number 2!

The new move mailbox task gets around this issue because it can now handle corrupted items. There are two options available within the task, as shown below.

Corrupted Item Handling

If you elect to just create a failure report, a report is created for the problematic mailbox and that mailbox is not moved. If you elect to skip the corrupted items, then you should understand that this option assumes that the corrupted items are to be deleted when the mailbox is moved. Also, if the number of corrupt items exceeds your stated threshold, then the messages that have already been moved are moved back to the source server.

Move Mailbox Reporting

A detailed log file of the move mailbox operation is saved in XML format into the \My Documents\Exchange Task Wizard Logs folder. To make these a bit nicer to read, just apply an extensible style sheet to the log files. The Exchange 2003 SDK has XSL/HTA files that show how the format of XML reports can be changed to a more readable format.

And Finally....

Another useful snippet of information for you. If users try to login to their mailbox when it is being moved, the following event log will be generated. This includes access via OWA as well as via MAPI clients.

Event 9660

Account Deleted on November 12, 2003 at 07:57 AM in Useful Info
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Tracked on Feb 15, 2007 4:21:46 AM


This tool works well for moving mailboxes, especially the 1800 mailboxes we've had to move between sites. One problem though: The cross-site-move mailboxes end up with 2 BOLDED X.500 addresses, one for the old site, and one for the new. This causes problems when someone tries to reply: the double bolds mean there are 2 primary X.500 addresses, and Exchange simply bounces the message as a recipient who can't be found.

Has anyone else seen this? Is there any way to avoid it? We have to go in and remove one of the X.500 entries from every mailbox that moves between sites.

Posted by: Michele at Sep 3, 2004 10:10:09 AM

Good information in here. One question: Why are we not able to access the newly moved mailbox? Although the name can be checked but Outlook fails to log on to the mailbox in the new location. The other exchange is in the same organization and domain.

Posted by: Anwer Abbas at Sep 17, 2004 7:48:55 AM

Great news,but why cannot we have a full .NET enabled api to do this. Nobody wants to run a GUI many times a day when stuff can get automated and besides ExMerge in Ex2000 sucks when it comes to automation. ???

Posted by: Morten at Dec 12, 2004 10:30:48 PM