If you need to build an Exchange domain for a large number of users in a short period of time, the Exchange Directory Import Utility can be a big help. This tool allows you to add information to your current Exchange network or create an entire Exchange environment from a standard comma separated value (CSV) file. Not only does it allow you to create Exchange user mailboxes, but it also lets you create the corresponding Windows NT/2000 user accounts. Importing the CSV file is a simple process, and I’ll walk you through each step.
Building your CSV file
First, you must create your CSV file. This may sound simple, but it is actually the most complicated part of the process. Begin by deciding what information you will need in your mailboxes. You can do this by looking at any mailbox in the Exchange Administrator utility and selecting the fields you want to fill in. All fields in the mailbox have a corresponding header associated with them. The key is that you must format the Exchange headers correctly, or they will not import properly.
Once you’ve selected which headers you want to use, you have several options. You can research Microsoft TechNet to find a listing of headers and their correct formats, or you can use the Exchange Resource Kit utility Header.exe on an existing Exchange server to extract the headers into a CSV file. The Header.exe utility brings up a window that has all of the selectable headers on one side; just select which headers you want to use, based on the mailbox requirements that you came up with. You can also select Required Fields, which will automatically add the required headers and then allow you to select the optional headers. When you finish, select where you want to save the CSV file and click Generate to save the file. Figure A shows a sample of a header file. Not all the fields in this figure are required, but using them can give you more complete information for your new domain.
After you create the CSV, open it in Microsoft Excel (or another spreadsheet application). Next, you can begin putting your information into the spreadsheet. It should end up looking something like Figure B.
Now save your spreadsheet, again making sure to save it in the CSV format. Open the file in Notepad to verify that it looks accurate. It should look like Figure C.
Importing the file into Exchange
Now that you have your CSV file in place, you are ready to begin the directory import. Start by opening up Exchange Administrator and selecting Tools | Directory Import to open the dialog box shown in Figure D.
At this point, you can begin to fill in your information. The name of your current Exchange server will be the default, as will the domain of the local machine. You must then choose Import File and browse to the location of your CSV file. In the Account Creation subgroup, select the Create Windows NT Account check box. If you leave the Generate Random Password option deselected, all the users will be created with a blank password. They will then need to change their password the first time they log on.
Next, select the Logging Level (how much information is written to the event log) and specify whether you want to overwrite any information that is duplicated in the import. Select Import and you're done!
When you have finished this, you will instantly have a domain with all the users you created in your CSV file. This is an ideal situation for a large network, for migrating to Exchange from a legacy mail system, for setting up a new office, or for integrating a new division as the result of a merger or acquisition. Also, if you are in the process of migrating to Windows NT/2000 from another operation system, this can be a real time-saver.
How could this tool help you with your Exchange administration?
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