ExMerge – Archiving E-mail

ToolsWelcome to a brand new segment: Tool Tuesday!

Exmerge is an excellent tool to use when working with importing and exporting from Microsoft Exchange Server. Most documentation points to the use of this tool when migrating from one Exchange serve to another. However another excellent use is for exporting data into a PST file for archiving. While there are excellent archiving tools for the enterprise space, as well as highly recommended archiving service providers, this is a great method for small businesses who want to retain terminated employee mails in a readable format, while removing the data from the Information Store.

This tool can be run against a single mailbox or multiple mailboxes. The documentation is clear and is almost unnecessary as it is very easy to use. However, here are the two most common problems that people encounter because they don’t read the directions:

  1. When you download the tool from the Microsoft website (here), you will have an exe which will extract the files anywhere you want. You must choose the ExchSRVR/BIN for the destination. It will throw a dapi.DLL error if you don’t.
  2. If the process runs very quickly, and results in small PST files, then you likely have a permissions error: see MS KB292509

There are a couple of other common, supported and documented purposes for this tool:

  1. Brick level backup of an Exchange Server (without the added cost of a third party plug in)
  2. Extracting data from the dumpster
  3. Extracting folder rules
  4. Extracting data from a damaged Private Information Store
  5. Removing particular messages from an Information Store

And a few other uses which are a natural use for the tools, not specifically documented, but easy to figure out:

  1. Archiving older e-mails (move data from IS to PST for last year, etc)
  2. Extracting particular messages (by subject line) for litigation purposes
  3. Importing PST from a previous POP3/IMAP implementation into the Exchange Server as part of a large migration project


Top 5 Virus Tips

syringeHere is the top 5 tips to reduce your risk of becoming infected by a computer virus:

  1. Always logon to your computer using a limited or local user security group. If you are on a managed network and don’t know what this means, you’re probably safe. If you don’t have a managed network, and you don’t know what this means, your probably at risk, and if you are an administrator, you know better and should be using RUNAS instead of a local admin or domain admin account for your day-to-day duties; 
  2. Only open attachments which are from known individuals and are expected. If the e-mail is not from a known sender, or if it is unexpected, it is better to check with the sender first before opening the attachment;
  3. Only install website related Active X, Java, Scripts, Applications, Plug-in, if you know the publisher and the act is intentional. Do not download software from the interent with a specific purpose
  4. Ensure that your computer is fully up-to-date with the manufacture’s security updates/downloads;
  5. Ensure that your anti-virus software is fully up-to-date with the lastest version and signature file;

With these basic tips, we took a single client with 5 Windows XP Professional workstations and ran them for 8 months for a trial with their anti-virus software removed. They were told to relay the above 5 steps to the employees on a semi-monthly basis, along with a small poster campaign in the break-room.

At the conclusion of the trail, none of the systems had any known infections. However it is not a reccomendation to run a system without anti-virus.

Good lucky

Monitoring employee activity

i found you!A request that comes around a couple of times each year is a client who is looking to monitor the internet activity of their employees. I’ve been helping clients with this for years, but the first place we always start is the employee handbook: do you have a policy to permit your monitoring. Why you ask. According to the trial courts of California, your employees have an implied sense of confidentiality because they use a password on their computer. So, what can you do? A couple of options. One would be to amend your employee handbook. Another would be to have a written computer use policy. Beyond simply settings yourself up to monitor this activity, the mere fact that you publish this policy will be a strong deterrant to your employees.

So, what should you include in this policy…

  • The computer network, servers, computer and internet is the property of the company
  • Information created, stored or transmitted through the company network is subject to inspection and monitoring
  • Personal computer or other technologies, which are connected to the company network are subject to monitoring and inspection
  • There is no assumption of confidentiality for any activity taking place on company resources
  • The personal use of the company network is {discourage, prohibited, permitted}
  • The use of the company network for illegal activities, including p2p filesharing, is prohibited
  • Company harrasement policies include electronic forms
  • The company may backup, make copies or otherwise duplicate any information on any equipment connected to the company network
  • Management, at it’s discretion may monitor, track, log or otherwise review the use of the company network, including internet and e-mail activities.

As always, be sure to consult your business attorney before implementing a policy of this nature, as well as before taking any form of monitoring actions towards your employees. The illegal use of monitoring of employee activity may not only nullify any sort of disciplinary action, but may also open your company to legal action

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