Microsoft Exchange and Blackberry Server Specialists

Mailbox Access Account

Sometimes it is necessary to make changes to a wide number of mailboxes, or grant an account access to the entire mailbox store. However with Exchange 2003 SP2 and higher administrators are explicitly denied access, so granting access via one of the administration type groups doesn't always work.

You may also have concerns over auditing of the access to ensure that the access isn't abused.

Therefore it is a good idea to have a special account that has its permissions locked down that is used for mass mailbox access.

Typical uses of an account of this type include:

  • Application or service (Blackberry for example)
  • Import-Mailbox or Export-Mailbox command
  • Mass mailbox manipulation (using set perm / admodify - details)

The account should be created with just the permissions it needs so that the deny permission on high level accounts doesn't cause a problem.

This is NOT a service account, or a way to grant yourself access to all mailboxes. An Exchange administrator does not require access to all mailboxes by default to do their job.

Account Creation

  1. Create the account in the usual way, using the Exchange Management Console. Be sure to set up the account with a strong password and a mailbox.
  2. Do not add the user to any groups. This will ensure that there are no problems with inherited deny permissions.
    This includes (but not limited to) Administrators and Domain Admins. The account should only be a member of Domain Users.
  3. Open the Exchange Management Console, expand Organisation Configuration. Right click on Organisation configuration and chosoe Add Exchange Administrator. Run through the wizard to grant the account Exchange View Only Administrator.
  4. Download and use to grant the "Full Mailbox Access" permission. Do not grant any other permission to the account.

Workstation Setup

If you are doing an import/export for data using Import-Mailbox or Export-Mailbox, then you need to setup a workstation. This makes it easier to run exmerge than trying to deal with permissions on the server itself.

  1. Add the special account created above account to the local administrator group - not domain admin or any group on the domain.
  2. Install Exchange Management Tools and Outlook.
  3. Configure Outlook to use the account.
  4. Powershell should already have the import-mailbox command built in.

You should now be able to run import-mailbox correctly from this workstation without any permission errors.

If you have forgotten a stage and haven't set the permissions correctly, remember that Exchange will cache permissions, so do not expect a change in permission to take effect immediately. The best practise is to presume that you have NOT got the permission and check before attempting the task. Then if you need to change the permission it will be available immediately because Exchange hasn't read the invalid permissions and cached them. To get the change to take effect immediately you need to restart the System Attendant service, which will restart the store as well.

Related Links


Exchange 2007 Admin Tools Prequisites