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The company I work for is in the middle of a legal dispute. As part of the dispute we have been asked to provide all emails SENT TO or RECEIVED from a list of 141 individuals during a 4 month time span.

There are about 12 people in the company, we use Outlook 2010, and our mail is hosted Exchange. The hosting company said they cannot help us, other than to export all our mail to PST and send to us, which doesn't seem like much help at all. They also said it would take "a few days" to give us the exported PST files. We have to provide the applicable messages to the lawyers in 2 days so we have to do something now.

Is there a fast or scripted way to search and extract messages from our OST files?

As it stands, it seems like we will have to perform two manual searches per name:

  • One search for messages FROM the person
  • then a search for mail TO the person

… times 141 names. That's 282 searches per user, times 12 users. The searches are not quick either, since users have about 4-6 GB OST files.

What would you do in this situation? Am I out of luck?

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Can't you file for a delay on providing the info with the explanation that you PHYSICALLY CANNOT COMPLY IN THE TIMEFRAME LISTED? Your hosting company will obviously back you up here... – Shinrai Sep 20 '11 at 19:13
Your first question, what would I do? It would probably involve quiet contemplation in a dark room, followed by crying. – Bart Silverstrim Sep 20 '11 at 19:30
@BartSilverstrim I think that is the correct answer! Thanks! :) – David Sep 21 '11 at 21:03
For future reference, Access can import outlook data and offer extremely powerful data manipulation tools. – user127610 Apr 10 '12 at 18:47
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would purchase and use Emailchemy Forensic Edition to convert the OSTs into some format that can be grepped (I'd recommend Maildir), then write a shell script or Perl script or whatever works best for you in order to extract the relevant ones. Make sure you have plenty of disk space.

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Perhaps use Outlook's Export To A File functionality to export all mail to a CSV (comma separated values), and then use Excel's "Sort and Filter" options (or another spreadsheet program's equivalent) to sort the CSV and remove unwanted entries.

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You might want to try FileLocator Pro, which can search OST/PST files (including attachments) without having to export them first:

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pffexport will do it (just copy the compiled version of the sift distribution if on linux, otherwise compile for windows with mingw)

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Some more information for this obscure title would be helpful. – AthomSfere Jul 19 '13 at 11:49
nice description of pffexport at… – chris Jul 20 '13 at 16:17

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