Message Tracking Using Exchange 2010 Shell Only Works With US Date Format

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If you use a date format other than US (mm/dd/yyyy), the message tracking cmdlet (Get-MessageTrackingLog) in Exchange 2010 fails.

Let’s walk through an example to prove this with Exchange 2010 SP2 UR3 at the backend. I have sent an email to my wife today (14th Oct) at 20:41.

Email to be traced

A simple Get-MessageTrackingLog command with the sender and recipients parameter brings the desired output.

Track messages without dates

When the cmdlet is extended by specifying a time frame (dd/mm/yyyy), it returns the following error message.

Message tracking fails

Cannot process argument transformation on parameter ‘Start’. Cannot convert value "14/10/2012 20:38" to type "System.DateTime". Error: "String was not recognized as a valid DateTime."

If I run the same command with 14th Oct in US format (10/14/2012), Exchange displays the message trace.

Message tracking works in US time format

In short, unless you use the mm/dd/yyyy format for date with the Get-MessageTracingLog cmdlet, you are not going much further with the trace ;)

Is this a bug? Has anyone come across this before? Any workarounds?

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About the author: Exchange Architect, Blogger, Husband & Dad. I have been in IT for the last 11 years, with Exchange Server becoming the prime area in the last few years. I am active on TechNet forums & Experts Exchange.

10 comments… add one

  1. Percy J

    This is just a guess. could that be because of the date setting of the OS? (MM/DD/YYYY)
    Im here in the states so….

    1. No Percy, date settings on the server are correct, set to UK timezone. Looks like it is a bug!

  2. Zoltan Erszenyi

    Yes, I have come across it lots of times as in Australia the date format is dd/mm/yyyy.

    Since it doesn’t affect functionality, I wouldn’t consider it a bug. Instead it appears to be an unfinished localization issue, considered by MS not sufficiently important to complete.

    Never took the effort to look up possible references. I just accepted the fact and used it with US dates.


    1. Hi Zolta,

      Given that MS releases language packs and Exchange 2010 install itself in a number of languages, this should be fixed. I know it is a minor issue, but people do use Shell for advanced query.


  3. Yep, seems to be the way it is.

    I wrote an article with some examples of searching time/date ranges in message tracking logs:

    I don’t run into that little quirk too often because normally I use Get-Date to specify relative time/date rather than fixed ones.

    But one way to get around any awkwardness with the US time format is to use Get-Date to set a variable with the start/end time + date that you want, then use the variable in the Get-MessageTrackingLog command.


    [PS] C:\>$date = Get-Date “17/9/2012 12:00:00″

    [PS] C:\>Get-MessageTrackingLog -Start $date -End $date.AddHours(8) -ResultSize unlimited

    1. Thanks for the tip Paul.

  4. sahal

    Hello Sir,
    its mentioned in the help info for get-messagetrackinglog cmdlet. that the -start vaule should be in specific format.
    any way nice to learn this.

    1. Thanks Sahal. But, there should be a reason why MS insists on US date format!

  5. I explained the official workaround on linked-in (use [datetime]::Parse( ) ).

    That being said, to be clear, MS is not insisting on a “US date format” but what they call a “culture invariant” date format. It just so happens that this is the en-US date format. :) A picky difference, to be sure, but relevant.

    There are a number of cmdlets, not just in Exchange, where this occurs. It isn’t a bug, it is “works as designed and intended”. Arguably, the documentation could be improved.

    Michael B. Smith
    Consultant and Exchange MVP

    1. Thanks for the explanation Michael.

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