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Summary: The growing number of large email attachments is causing Exchange database sizes to increase, potentially impacting server performance and file corruption. This article outlines manual methods like ExMerge and PowerShell for removing attachments. It also suggests a third-party tool, Kernel for Exchange Server Recovery, as an easier and more reliable solution for extracting attachments from Exchange messages.

The burgeoning volume of bulky email attachments contributes significantly to the burgeoning size of the Exchange database. Emails bereft of attachments occupy relatively minimal storage space. However, the inclusion of various attachments such as documents, images, and other files considerably inflates the storage requirements. With a rising influx of messages containing substantial attachments, the Exchange Database swells in size, potentially reaching several gigabytes. Ultimately, this expansion may adversely impact the performance of the Exchange Server and even result in the corruption of Exchange database files.

How to deal with large email attachments?

To effectively reduce the size of Exchange database files, the initial step for users should involve relocating or exporting email attachments to a separate location outside the Exchange database. This proactive measure will liberate valuable space within the Exchange database. Furthermore, various manual methods can be employed to eliminate attachments, tailored to the specific Exchange version in use.

Extract Attachments Using ExMerge Utility

Microsoft provides a complimentary utility known as ExMerge, designed for effortlessly extracting Exchange data, including attachments. You can conveniently download this tool directly from the official Microsoft website. Typically, the ExMerge utility is compatible with Exchange Server versions 2000, 2003, and 2007.

How to use ExMerge Utility?

Prior to using this utility, it is essential to ensure that the Exchange user account has been granted full mailbox rights over the relevant user mailboxes. Next, obtain the ExMerge utility from the official Microsoft website, proceed to install it on your system, and then initiate the application. You can effortlessly complete the process by simply following the step-by-step on-screen instructions provided.

  1. Launch the ExMerge utility and click Next till Procedure Selection wizard is displayed. Now select Extract or Import (Two Step Procedure) and click Next.
  2. In this wizard, specify your Exchange Server name, and click Options.
  3. In the Data tab, select the checkbox User messages and folders and click OK.
  4. In the Import Procedure tab, select Archive data to target store.
  5. Click on the Message Details tab and specify the document format (.doc. .pdf. .xls, etc.) to extract from emails. Then click OK. Click Next to continue.
    Launch the ExMerge utility
  6. Now click Select All to select all the items and again click Next.
  7. In the opened window, make a selection of the desired locale.
  8. In the next dialogue box, provide the destination PST file location and click Next.
  9. Click Save Settings button to save the settings of the export process and finally click Next.

The export process gets completed soon depending on the amount of the data exported.

Definitely ExMerge utility comes free, but has many limitations on data, i.e. target PST file size is limited to 2 GB and the entire message is exported along with the attachments (attachments are not exported separately) with this process.

Extract Attachments Using Exchange Management Shell

An alternative method for extracting attachments involves utilizing the Exchange Management Shell. To achieve this, one can employ the Export-Mailbox PowerShell commands, specifically tailored for Exchange 2007. However, it’s imperative to ensure that the user possesses comprehensive access permissions to the relevant user mailboxes. This necessitates that the user’s account is endowed with the Exchange Administrator role and is enlisted as a member of the local Administrators group.

Get-Mailbox | Export-Mailbox -AttachmentFilenames “*.DOC” -PSTFolderPath C:\Attachments.pst –DeleteContent

When you execute this command, all the messages containing .doc files will be moved to the specified location C:\Attach.pst and removed from its earlier location.

For later versions like Exchange 2010, 2013, 2016, users can use a different set of cmdlets. Use this command to assign the rights:

New-ManagementRoleAssignment –Role “Mailbox Import Export” –User Administrator

Now, export the attachments using the following command:

Get-Mailbox | New-MailboxExportRequest -ContentFilter {Attachment -like “*.DOC”} -FilePath “\\SERVER01\PSTShare\Attachments.pst

All the messages with attachments having a .doc extension are now saved to Attachments.pst file located in the shared folder named PSTShare. The exported messages are not deleted from the source location though.

Need an easier solution to extract attachments from Exchange emails?

After exploring these manual solutions, users should now grasp that extracting attachments from messages is indeed feasible. However, these methods can prove to be rather cumbersome, demanding a certain level of technical proficiency in utilizing PowerShell commands and the ExMerge utility. To circumvent these challenges, users have the alternative of employing specialized recovery software. By harnessing the capabilities of this robust Exchange Recovery software, users can effortlessly save attachments in their preferred location, conveniently stored in PST format.

Let us understand how the tool helps in easily extracting attachments from Live Exchange.

  1. First, launch the software and select the Offline EDB File option.
  2. Note: You can add live Exchange Server also as a source.

  3. Then browse and add the desired EDB file and click Next.
  4. When the EDB file data is displayed, right-click on any desired mailbox and click Extract Attachments.
    Go for Extract Attachments
  5. A dialogue box will get opened. Here, you can select the folders for extracting attachments, apply Item Type and Date Range filters and provide the destination location. Then click Extract to start the process.
    set filter and extract to start process
  6. After the extraction is completed, you will get information via message.
    extraction is completed

So, as you have seen, extracting attachments from offline EDB file or live Exchange is easy with Kernel for Exchange Server Recovery software.


This article provides insight into various manual methods, including the ExMerge utility and PowerShell commands, for the extraction or removal of attachments from a live Exchange environment. It also explores the limitations associated with these methods. Additionally, we offer a recommendation for a third-party tool that ensures a reliable and foolproof extraction of attachments from Exchange messages.

Kernel for Exchange Server