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PSTs - How many users can I realisitcally migrate per week? per month?

Level 3
This is long, and probably something most all of you have already gone through.
I'll cut straight to the question and then provide some background info:

Question:  How many users do you realistically migrate (Ingest PSTs for) on a weekly or monthly basis?

We started our EV implementation back in June.  We've somewhat successfully completed our first pilot and made a ton of usability changes as a result of that pilot.
We were creating short stubs for messages after 30 days and archiving everything, and stripping attachments everywhere.

Now after the first pilot, we're archiving items older than 1 year old.  We're using the full message body as the shortcut.  We're not archiving tasks, notes or contacts and we're not stripping any calendar attachments.  These changes should make EV all but invisible to the majority of our 9200+ users.

Our first pilot included about 225 users.

We're set to begin a 2nd pilot in a few weeks.  I've been asked to work on a plan/schedule for PST ingestion.  I've talked with a few EV admins and done what research I can.  I know how fast the servers can ingest data, but that's only one piece to the whole puzzle.

We are going to be ingesting all PSTs and stubbing everything with full message body.  Then we'll have EV delete the PSTs as they're ingested.

I know we'll be dealing with corrupt & password protected PSTs.  Don't know how many yet, so I've gotten some industry average numbers and have tried to use them to setup a schedule (I think 1-4% password protected and 8-10% corrupt is average, but I don't have the numbers in front of me).

For the longest time, we've forced users to save emails to PST files, because we had mailbox quotas in place.  We still mostly do, but they've increased significantly, but we haven't advertised it.
Users of course got tired of manually moving emails, so many of them created rules to move data to PST files. 
Also many users always click yes to the autoarchive prompts that outlook generates.  PSTs are everything - PCs and all over the network.

With 9200 users, I've got about 27,000 PSTs.  Probably about 13,000 of them are under 265K, so they're 'basically' empty, but EV will still find them and ingest them somewhere.
I've also got about 2TB of data in the 13-14K valid PSTs.

I've read the data.  I can ingest about 2gigs per hour.  Assuming I ingest for 8 hours per day, I can ingest 16gb per day, or 2tb in about 125 days.
But, I've got 2 EV quad core servers, so I can halve that to about 62 days, or basically 2 months.

I've been given 7 months total to do PST ingestion, and I'm trying (in vain) to explain that that's not enough time.  While the data could be ingested that quickly, folks were up in arms when we archived data 30 days old using a small shortcut and only once we changed the plan to 1 year with full message body did we get approval to move forward.  PSTs are going to be a huge culture shock. 

I work in a hospital environment and the majority of our users are not very computer savvy.  If their outlook rules no longer work, it'll be a support call.  If they can't find their PST files, support call.  If they can't create a new PST file, support call.

Our helpdesk doesn't have time to handle these types of calls, and our field services primarily provides hardware support.  99% of the support calls for EV will be routed to the myself or one other admin.  We'll still be responsible for other support issues (7 windows admins supporting about 550 windows servers). 

To make matters more fun, we're running exchange 2003.  Performance is OK, but I really want to move to exchange 2010 for performance gains.  That, plus trying to get users to understand 20,000 messages in the inbox or 90,000 messages in the sent items folder is bad is impossible. 

The size of our exchange environment will more than double with the ingestion of 2tb of PST data.  (we've got about 800GB now I believe).  But the number of objects in exchange will likely triple, and I'll be dealing with performance issues as well.  And the number of messages per single folder - I don't even want to think about it.

Admins I've spoken with say a good target is about 100 users per week.  I've also heard that's a pretty full-time gig doing just that.
I'm having a hard time getting anyone internally to listen.  Again today, I've been asked to do some testing to determine ingestion rate.  Ingestion rate is the only thing anyone seems to care about.

I'd love to hear some real-world data.


Partner    VIP    Accredited Certified
Hello Glenn,

Don't you love management ;)

I am running a show with 89.000 archives/users

We had Exchange 5.5 when EV was introduced. We configured EV to archive everything older than 28 days, or after 7 when larger then 1MB. We show only the 1st 250 characters in the shortcut with links to the archived items. Initially, we created a folder called My Archive (using EVPM), to which users could copy/paste their pst's. This folder is archived the same night, without leaving shortcuts. When users click on the folder, it will open Archive Explorer. We explained users in the welcome message that they could always find their old mails using the shortcuts, using Search Safe, or using Archive Explorer.

We did not use pst-migration. It was decided that it was up to the user to make sure old mails they wanted to keep was placed in the My Archive folder. We disabled the creation of pst-files. Additionally, we're archiving deleted items, and obviously sent items.

It is my experience that users have no problem with this. For a user it is seamless if it is a ' regular'  mail, or if it is an archived mail.

We have currently about 90 exchange 2003 servers. We're going to move shortly to Exchange2007 (15 servers, CCR, W2008 64bit etc). EV helps us in bringing the mailboxes down in size. Average size of a mailbox is less then 40MB. (quota is set to 2GB, but we now (using EV80) also run quota based archiving)
Implementing EV will help you in bringing down the size of storage of Exchange. We have not performed any training on users side, except for what is in the welcome message. It shows the icons. Using EV to get the pst's is a good way of getting them in. Do read the manual. You'll see EV marks the pst's itself, and i believe it will get the password also (as soon as  a user logs in, the ev-client marks the pst etc). My guess is it is possible to complete in 7 months. You should try to find a logic to get the big pst's first. Users in an OU, on a specific Exchangeserver or something else.

As for the rules, I don't know how to work around that. Perhaps you do have to think about a ' user training'  perhaps via an internal website where everybody looks at? We have something similar with FAQ's. (like ' how to find an old mail')

You might also ask for Symantec Consulting to help. This is my 2cents. I'm interested in how you get along, do let us know here.

Good luck.
Regards. Gertjan

Level 6
Partner Accredited Certified

Have a look at our website,
We have got a Tool called "PST Migrator" which helps managing the whole PST Migration process, which could be interesting for you.

As you already found out, ingesting the PST's is easy and fast, but management of the whole process is mostly complicated and time consuming.


cloudficient - EV Migration, creators of EVComplete.

Level 6
No real data either ... but..

Some random ideas.

Most PST data is "old data" so why not make use of some of the features of the PST Policy and not create shortcuts for items which are say over 2 years old.  That way people will still be able to search on them in the archive, but they won't take up ANY space in Exchange.  Perhaps even change the shortcut policy to not keep the full body.. just the first 200 characters or something like that, which will make any shortcuts that do get created much smaller than the original item in most cases.  Granted doing the things on the shortcut makes EV a bit more "visible" to users... but even if you just opt to not create shortcuts for things over 2 years old, then that will save you a fair amount of space.

Exchange 2010 won't be supported by EV for some time yet..  So don't rush in upgrading environment.

With regards to time taken, well I would say you won't really know until you've been doing it for a while.  Your maths sounds "okay" to me, but remember that PST ingestion is slower than regular archiving (because the PSTs have to be fetched etc).  I would say you would need to estimate 4 months, but every 2 weeks provide a status report to the powers-that-be to tell them of your progress, and re-estimate the finish time each time you do the status report.  

Hope that helps,
Working for

Level 5

Also performing a large pst migration task in a hospital enviroment.

One thing that we noticed recently that some users has used the deleted items folder in the pst file to store mail that they want to use and we are NOT migrating  that to the archive.


Level 3
Management forced me to use full message body for the shortcut.
Management also likes outlook search.  If the full message body isn't available in outlook search, then the project is a complete failure.

We were forced to rewrite the statement of work to state the prodcut would be implemented in such a way as to minimize impact to the user community.  We have to make all email discoverable, so PSTs have to be ingested, but we can't use anything other than full-body shortcuts and we have to ingest and stub EVERYTHING. 

We're not even rolling out archive explorer.  Our users are getting an EV search icon but that's it.  The only time that will get used is if they delete an email that's already been archived.  Since we're arching only after 1 year (again, to reduce impact) that will hardly get used.  They'll come to me to search in the journal.

So rather than using EV to reduce the size of exchange, we're actually greatly increasing it with all these PSTs. And the full-message body shortcut will provide minimal space savings.

Symantec has told me Full EV support w/ Exchange 2010 90 days after Exchange 2010 is released.

Level 3
MichelZ, I've looked at EV Tools.  We have zero budget for anything.  I doubt that'll change, but I plan to keep ev tools in mind if it does.

Level 3
We do plan to have some training materials and I've already got a FAQ and QRG (quick reference guide). 

Regarding this paragraph:

"With regards to time taken, well I would say you won't really know until you've been doing it for a while.  Your maths sounds "okay" to me, but remember that PST ingestion is slower than regular archiving (because the PSTs have to be fetched etc).  I would say you would need to estimate 4 months, but every 2 weeks provide a status report to the powers-that-be to tell them of your progress, and re-estimate the finish time each time you do the status report."

I've told them numerous times I won't know how long it takes until I'm done and I won't have anything internal to guage it on until I start. 
The 7 month figure they gave me is actually 5 months & 2 months of "contingency".  I initially asked for 1 year just for PSTs, but after speaking with some admins in the field, came up with the 100 users per week number.

I guess I'll have to follow this advice though and provide frequent updates to the time estimate.

Only thing I'm changing though - I'm not estimating 4 months.  I think I've been on record stating it'll take longer than that.  I don't want to estimate 4 months and be on the hook when the schedule gets blown apart.

One of my favorite quotes from Symantec Materials is:

"It is imperative not to be too ambitious for large-scale PST migrations"

I forget which manual that's from (whatever contains: Chapter 7: PST Migrations).
I've had that quote hanging on my wall for 1/2 a year now. 
Hasn't seemed to help.

Level 5
I performe two runs a week with the maximum of 400 pst files at the time.

We have also updated the schedule some times due to the problem after the migration, password error unspecified error and so on.

Every error that we cant fix in a acceptable time we put on list that we handle later on, if not urgent to the user.

Level 3
So a max of 800 psts per week.

are you creating shortcuts or just injesting into the vault?
What version of exchange are you on?

We've got 27,500 PSTs.  Of that 27,500, 13000 are less than 300K, or basically emtpy files.