Microsoft helps bring in .PST from the wild

Email governance just got easier with Microsoft's launch of a free tool that can locate .pst files wherever they are on a network and import them into Exchange Server or Exchange Online.

PST Capture is designed to discover PSTs throughout a network, including on PCs, fileshares and USB drives.

"As we've had a lot of success with our archiving technology and people adopting Exchange 2010," said Ankur Kothari, a senior product manager with Exchange, "one of the things that customers have been asking us for is the ability to stop having these rogue bits of data across their organisations."

PST Capture helps fight this problem by collecting PSTs "in a centrally managed place so that they can do things like discover against that data or have appropriate policies in place that will expire content, or keep it, as needed," Kothari said.

Another new feature in Outlook also prevents .pst files multiplying on a network. It allows administrators to disable copying files to the local file system, which prevents the number of .pst files from growing as a result of copying or moving them between accounts

At the heart of PST Capture is the PST Capture Central Service. The Central Service maintains the list of all PST files found in your organisation and manages the data as it’s moved to the Exchange servers or Exchange Online.

Discovery of the PST files is performed by PST Capture agents that must be installed on computers. The agents also send the PST files they find to the host computer when an import operation is started on the PST Capture Console.

Microsoft says when using PST Capture, the greatest impact on network utilisation is when the actual PST data is being transmitted over the network. When you import a PST file to a mailbox, it is first copied from the client computer where the PST Capture agent is installed to the staging area on the host computer where PST Capture Console is installed.

According to answers provided on a Microsoft blog, PST capture can only work in Active Directory environments. The computer which has PST Capture Console installed must have 64 bit Windows and requires Outlook 2010 64 bit installed. It’s not required to install an extra Outlook client on the computers which have PST Capture Agent installed.

Microsoft Exchange PST Capture is based on technology acquired from Red Gate and is available as a free download here.

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