Backing up an Exchange Mailbox to a PST file

I’ve never trusted Exchange Server backup 100% ever since Exchange 2000, following a service pack, refused to restore backups from the non-service packed version (yes honestly).

So I’ve always had a 2-pronged approach to backup, do the usual monolithic backup using NTBackup, but also have mailboxes individually backed up as plain old PST files, which Outlook can easily mount to make it easier to do partial restores. In the past I’ve used ExMerge to do this, but it’s a becoming a bit neglected and is very clunky to script: it’s a Windows app (rather than a console app) that’s driven by an INI file.

Anyway, whilst doing some integration work against Exchange for a client I came across Dmitry Streblechenko’s superb Redemption Data Objects library. It is a really easy to use COM wrapper around Extended MAPI – a super-charged version of Collaboration Data Objects (CDO).

Honestly I really can’t understand why Microsoft didn’t ship a library like this (or improve CDO) rather than expecting you to write gnarly C++/COM/MAPI code to do what this library allows you to do easily from .NET code or a script. The Exchange API goalposts move from one release to the next: “Use the M: drive! No, use WebDAV! No, use ExOLEDB!… No, use Web Services!” with the only constant being good old MAPI.

Anyway – here’s part of our PST backup script – it relies on the Redemption Data Objects (RDO) COM DLL being registered. The free developer version pops up a prompt once when you RegSvr32 it, the royalty-free redistributable version is a incredibly reasonable $199.99. RDO relies on MAPI being installed, so grab it here if it’s not present on your system.

/* BackupPst.js */

// e.g. copyMailboxToPst(
           "FredB backup")

function copyMailboxToPst(serverName, userName, pstFile, pstName)
  var session = new ActiveXObject("Redemption.RDOSession");
  session.LogonExchangeMailbox(userName, serverName);
  WScript.Echo("Logged on to " + session.ExchangeMailboxServerName);

  var mailbox =  session.Stores.DefaultStore;
  var pstStore = session.Stores.AddPSTStore(pstFile, 1, pstName);

    WScript.Echo("Opened " + mailbox.IPMRootFolder.FolderPath);
    WScript.Echo("Error opening mailbox '" + userName
       + "' (access denied?). " + err.description);

  foreach(mailbox.IPMRootFolder.Folders, function(folder)
    WScript.Echo(" * " + folder.Name);


// Utility to allow enumeration of COM collections
function foreach(collection, fn)
  for(var e = new Enumerator(collection); !e.atEnd(); e.moveNext())

This could be further improved for incremental backups by using RDO’s newly introduced wrappers to the “Incremental Change Synchronization” API where you can use the same syncing technology that Outlook’s cached Exchange mode uses!

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