How To: Merging multiple PST files in Outlook into one Master archive

Note: This entry has also been posted on my company's website here: http://blog.cwps.com/bid/57269/How-To-Merging-Multiple-PST-Files-in-Outlook-i...

A customer had gone through several computers with several iterations of Outlook.  Per Microsoft’s default preferences (grumble grumble), each different Outlook profile insisted on creating its own Auto-Archive folder in the user’s Application Data directory.

Obviously, this is bad from a backup perspective—what had prompted this question was the fact that her old computer’s hard drive had died, having succumbed to the “click of death.”  She lost everything that wasn’t backed up on the network drive (including, presumably, the latest iteration of her local Auto-Archive folder).  We continue to suggest to all customers that they:

1) Turn off Auto-Archiving

2) Manually create an archive PST file on the network drive (which should be backed up nightly)

3) Name the PST file something useful (like 2008 Archives)

4) Drag-and-drop items as needed into the new archive folder, making sure to not let it get too large—if it does, repeat steps 2-4 to create a new archive and break it out further

At any rate, I was looking for a way to combine multiple PST files into one—in order to consolidate all of the old Auto-Archives (some of which had thankfully been moved to the network drive prior to her hard drive crashing) from previous Outlook profiles into one master archive file.

Note: I made sure that combining the files wouldn’t create an archive larger than 1-2 GB.  There are different schools of thought on “what Outlook can effectively handle” regarding the size of archive PST files—I tend to play it safe and break things out into multiple smaller archives, rather than one large one.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any truly freeware applications out “in the wild.”  Everyone wanted $29.99.  I was convinced I could do it for free.

Note: The next steps & screenshots are from Outlook 2010.  Steps will differ in Outlook 2003 & 2007.

For my test, I created three archive files: 1, 2 and 3.  Within each, I created subfolders.  Archive 1 had folder 1.  Archive 2 had folder 2 and folder 1.  Archive 3 had folder 3, folder 2 and folder 1.  Folder 1 always contained copies of the same item (three in total once merged—if it doesn’t eliminate duplicates).  Folder 2 also contained copies of the same item (though different from the item in folder 1)… for a total of two copies once merged).  Folder 3 contained one item:

 

I then created a “Master” PST on the network drive that is to contain the merged contents of archives 1, 2 and 3:

 

Once named & saved it to the network drive, we can see that it’s blank:

 

So, with “Master” highlighted in my Folder List view, I went to File > Open > Import:

 

I then said “Import from another program or file”:

 

…and “Outlook Data File (.pst)”:


Unfortunately, as I discovered, you have to close the PST file first:

 

…so after closing the file:

 

…I ran the same steps again, making sure to select “Do not import duplicates”:

…and match the options below:

 

I then repeated the process for archives 2 and 3… closing the archive, importing into the Master archive, and checking the contents:

At this point, I moved the physical 1, 2 and 3 PST files to a folder marked “Old Archives – Merged into Master Archive.”

The final (and most important) step is to change the Auto-Archive location in Outlook to be the same as the Master archive PST file:

Now, all of the archives are in one Master PST file, safely tucked away on a backed up network drive.

Fix: Outlook for Mac 2011 & Exchange 2007: Unable to send messages over ~5MB

After having scoured the Internet long and hard and trying a variety of solutions, I’m prepared to label this a “Fix” with the caveat that I’m not entirely sure which setting actually “did the trick.”  There are an abundance of forum posts out there about this very issue—I’d even gone so far as to place a (free) call into the Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 product support team, who in turn tried to convince me that the issue was with Exchange and not Outlook (which is not true, as this issue does not occur in Entourage 2008… a point I was unsuccessful at arguing).

Yes, I’m aware that Outlook for Mac 2011 (hereafter referred to as Outlook 2011, as there is no Outlook 2011 for PCs) communicates using the Exchange Web Services (EWS) instead of WebDav; however, Outlook 2010 (for the PC) also uses EWS without issue.

Anyway, onto the problem… when running Outlook 2011 and attempting to send a message over ~5MB in total, you’ll end up with the following error (check for the little yellow exclamation point on the bottom right of your screen):

…and when you click on the little yellow exclamation point, you get:

  

Outlook 2011 then drops the message that failed to send into your “Drafts” folder.

I narrowed it down to a total message size of ~5MB that failed in this way.  Note that I said message size, because even though your attachment size might be exact, the MIME conversion adds overhead to the messages (around 20-30% from what I’ve seen).

By way of example, this was the sending progress indicator for a message with an 8MB attachment (notice how it’s 9678 KB):

 

First, I updated the web.config files in the following directories on the Exchange 2007 server:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\ClientAccess\Sync
C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\ClientAccess\Exchweb\EWS

…in said web.config files, I modified the maxRequestLength attribute, changing it from the default of 10240 to 30720.

I then restarted IIS using the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager snap-in, highlighting the server, and clicking Restart:

 

(Note that you may have to hit “Restart” a few times… the IIS Manager is a bit buggy and doesn’t wait long enough for IIS to stop before it complains.)

Unfortunately, I now had a new problem… when sending, I’d now get this error instead:

 

So I then updated the Send Connector (which in this case was going to a Smart Host (irrelevant… you can just update the default one)) to allow messages up to 30720 KB:

 

Still, no love from Exchange.  I found one other command on another newsgroup that I tried as a last-ditch effort.  I have duplicated & modified that command here.

First, I ran the command that gathered information about the value I was going to be setting, and popped up Notepad, which I could then use to search for the requestFiltering section and verify that the maxAllowedContentLength attribute (set in the next command) was not yet present:

%WINDIR%\System32\appcmd list config "Default Web Site/owa" > currentConfig.txt & notepad currentConfig.txt

Once I confirmed that maxAllowedContentLength was not present in the requestFiltering section, I ran the following command to add it and re-check the current configuration:

%WINDIR%\System32\Inetsrv\appcmd.exe set config "Default Web Site/owa" -section:requestFiltering -requestLimits.maxAllowedContentLength:31457280 & %WINDIR%\System32\Inetsrv\appcmd.exe list config "Default Web Site/owa" > currentConfig.txt & notepad currentConfig.txt

If you’re wondering where I came up with 31457280, that’s 30 MB in bytes, that’s right, bytes.  If you set this value thinking it’s in KB, you’re going to break your ability to send anything but the smallest messages.

Here we can see the value set up:


At this point, I restarted IIS again (per my aforementioned procedure) and attempted to send my slew of test messages… they all went through, as we can see in the Sent Items in Outlook 2011:

 

…and in the Inbox of my OWA account:

 

Needless to say, the client was very pleased to now be able to send e-mails over 5MB in size.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t test beyond 10 MB, it’s because many recipient e-mail systems won’t process messages that large—and as such, I don’t recommend to clients that they send anything over 10 MB as a “general rule.”

Tip: BlackBerry Enterprise Server & BESx: Best practices for service stop/start

 

Straight from BlackBerry Support Specialist:

 

Stopping BlackBerry Services

1. Stop the BlackBerry Controller service

2. Stop the BlackBerry Dispatcher service

3. Stop the BlackBerry Router service

4. Stop the remaining "BlackBerry" servers from top-to-bottom alphabetically

 

Starting BlackBerry Services

1. Start the BlackBerry Router service

2. Start the BlackBerry Dispatcher service

3. Start the BlackBerry Controller service

4. Start the remaining "BlackBerry" services from top-to-bottom alphabetically

Fix: The one Exchange/AD checkbox that will get you EVERY TIME...

There are all sorts of Exchange, BlackBerry and Outlook-related issues that can be caused by this one magical checkbox not being checked.

I won’t go into all of them… they’re all obscure, they’re all frustrating, and nobody ever thinks to check this checkbox, because there is no good reason why it should ever be un-checked.

So, if you’re slamming your head against a wall trying to figure out:

·         Why won’t the damn BlackBerry send?

·         Why can’t Suzie log in to OWA?

·         Why can’t I delegate mailbox permissions properly?

·         [Insert other obscure Exchange-related issue here]

Open up AD Users & Computers.

Go to View > Advanced Features (make sure it’s checked/enabled).

Find the user’s account, go to the Security tab, and click Advanced.

Check this checkbox… it should always be checked.  If it’s not, check the box and wait a few minutes and try whatever you were trying to do again:

You’d be surprised how many Exchange issues this will fix…

Humor: CWPS 411 (Inclement Weather Hotline): Let's liven it up a bit...

I sent this out to the company on a snowy night in January.  For reference, the 411 “Inclement Weather Hotline” is how we all find out if the office is closed.

I know it’s disheartening to see your car covered in snow, only to call into the office, press 411, and hear the dreaded, “CWPS is open on time today.”

If we’re not going to close, I’d propose the following new message (attached) replace the current 411 recording.  It will at least give us a chuckle as we all head outside, snowbrushes in hand…  :-)

Oddly, I didn’t get any responses :-)