So you just finished installing Exchange 5.5 into your Windows NT 4.0 network environment. Now, you need to define and attach mailboxes for each and every user account within your domain. Does this sound familiar to you? If you only have a small number of users, you could probably knock out this task without much sweat. But if your network includes hundreds or thousands of users, you’re going to need a little help. Luckily, Microsoft includes the Microsoft Exchange Administrator to assist you in such tasks. In this Daily Feature, I’ll show you how the Exchange Administrator can easily create and attach mailboxes to your existing user accounts.

Getting started
First off, make sure you’re logged in as an Administrator (or with an account that has administrator rights) to the Exchange server and your Primary Domain controller (PDC). Then, launch the Microsoft Exchange Administrator from the Start menu. After the utility opens, click on your site domain name in the left pane and then select Recipients. You should notice that there aren’t any mailboxes in the right pane. Now, click on Tools from the main menu bar and select Extract Windows NT Account List from the drop-down menu, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
You manage your Exchange server’s configuration in the Microsoft Exchange Server Administrator.

Using Microsoft Exchange Server Administrator
When you make the selection, you should receive the Windows NT User Extraction dialog box. As you can see in Figure B, I provided the necessary domain and domain controller names from which to collect our account information, and I defined the output filename. In my example, I named the output file Test1.csv and saved it within the \exchsvr\bin subdirectory. You can use the Browse button to place your file where it would be appropriate for your network environment.

Figure B
Specify the domain name and domain controller to access account information.

Once you specify the correct values for your network, click OK. You should receive a message letting you know that the extraction has completed and whether or not any errors were encountered during the extraction. The time it takes your network to accomplish this task will vary depending on the type of machine you’re running and the scope and scale of your user environment.

Importing the accounts
Now you’re ready to import your NT 4.0 user account information into Exchange 5.5 and attach mailboxes to each account. From the main menu bar of the Exchange Administrator, click Tools and select Directory Import from the drop-down menu. This will bring up the Directory Import dialog box shown in Figure C.

Figure C
You can import your network user account information from the file you created earlier.

You need to provide some of the same information you specified earlier, including the location of the file into which you extracted your NT user account parameters. Once you have supplied the necessary information, click Import to begin the process. As before, the time it takes your network to complete this process will vary depending on your configuration and user population. After the import is complete, you’ll receive another message letting you know if there were any errors encountered during the process. To complete the import, click OK, and then click Recipients once again. The right pane should now contain a listing of your network users’ mailboxes, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D
The mailboxes are attached to your existing user accounts.

Cleaning up and planning ahead
Overall, this process should be simple and clean. As always, you should never attempt to modify the current configuration of your network environment without first completing a backup of your critical files. Be sure to update that backup once you complete the installation and modifications to the user accounts. After performing the import, you may need to fine-tune the user parameters in each mailbox to ensure the proper information is contained. As you see in Figure E, the mailbox property pages are easy to maneuver through and easy to complete.

Figure E
You can input additional account information for users on your network.

To ensure that any future user accounts are created with attached mailboxes, you need to modify the settings of your User Manager For Domains utility. After you open the utility, click Exchange on the menu bar, and select Options from the drop-down menu. In the Options dialog box, select the first option, Always Create An Exchange Mailbox When Creating Windows NT Accounts. As you can see in Figure F, I also selected the option to delete mailboxes upon deletion of the account. By making these selections, you ensure that mailboxes are automatically created each time you create a new user account on your network. Of course, you’ll need to set these options to reflect your own network’s requirements.

Figure F
You can configure your utility to automatically create mailboxes when creating NT user accounts.

Creating Exchange mailboxes for existing NT users after you install Exchange 5.5 can be a pain. Fortunately, Microsoft Exchange Administrator helps you take some of the tedium out of the process.