Single Mailbox Recovery in Exchange 2010 – Classic

Introduction

I have written a 2 part tutorial at simple-talk.com about Microsoft Exchange 2010 Backup and Restore in which I have covered all steps needed to successfully backup your database as well as different recovery scenarios. This article can be looked at as an extension of the recovery process, part 2, and will cover the case when a single mailbox needs to be recovered from the backup.

I would like to stress first that it is not usually needed to recover a single mailbox from a backup when running Microsoft Exchange 2010 because deleted mailbox can be found in the “Disconnected Mailboxes” under “Recipient Configuration” and can simply be reconnected. However if you are just curious to learn or you are in need to recover a single mailbox for whatever reason keep on reading.

I will assume in this article that you are already familiar with the backup and restore process and that a successful full backup of the database already exists.

Scenario Preparation

Let’s first take a look at the the mailbox of user2, you will notice a couple of emails and one of them dating after the last successful backup.
user2 mailbox b4 crash

Great! I will now delete the mailbox of user2 and make sure it is not recoverable by purging it from the disconnected mailboxes.

To do so I started by getting the deleting the mailbox of user2 Exchange Management Shell

Disable-mailbox user2

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As expected the mailbox is now found in the disconnected mailboxes

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To purge it we will need first to get the mailboxGuid of all disconnected mailboxes and then force delete it. This can only be done using Exchange Management shell with the below commands

 Get-MailboxStatistics -Database "MBsrv2" | ?{$_.DisconnectDate -ne $null} | fl DisplayName, MailboxGuid
 Remove-Mailbox -Database "MBSrv2" -StoreMailboxIdentity "MailboxGuid" -Confirm:$False

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Searching again for disconnected mailboxes will return empty results proving the mailbox is really purged and only recoverable by restore.
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Mailbox Recovery

Now that we have messed things up it is time to restore, for this scenario follow the same steps as highlighted in “Emails recovery” section of my restore article. I will pick it up here from the point where the recovery database was successfully mounted.

The first thing I was tempted to try was to simply issue

Restore-Mailbox user2 –RecoveryDatabase recdb

This failed without a doubt since user2 now has no mailbox
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Creating a new mailbox for user2 and trying again also failed, obviously because the mailbox GUID has changed.
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My next step was simply “going by the book” and using the following Exchange Management Shell command

Restore-Mailbox user2 -RecoveryDatabase recdb -RecoveryMailbox user2 -TargetFolder "recover"

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This worked OK, as you can see all items, but the email that was sent after the backup was taken, were recovered however not in their original location rather in a new tree under the specified “Recover” folder.
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Conclusion

Even though we were able to recovered all backed items of a mailbox using method highlighted in this article I was still not satisfied with the results. The fact that restored items showed up in a different tree would, of course, be beneficial in most cases but won’t be an acceptable solution for the majority of my clients. I needed a “real” mailbox recovery to convince them.

I will show you, in part 2 of this article, how to accomplish a mailbox recovery as if the mailbox was never deleted so stay posted.

Part 1 – Backup Exchange 2010 for free (at simple-talk.com)
Part 2 - Restore Exchange 2010 (at simple-talk.com)
Part 3 – Single Mailbox Recovery in Exchange 2010 – Classical approach
Part 4 – Single Mailbox Recovery in Exchange 2010 – Magic

I have been working in IT consultancy and solution integration since 1998 and I consider myself lucky to be, one in a few, making a living out of my passion. I am also member of the famous Experts Exchange (profile here) online community where I try my best to share what I have learned along the road.

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  • Peterw102

    Tahnks a lot for this article Antoine.
    One thing – we see many articles all over with windows 2008 Backup – but what can Windows Backup NOT do ? A list of things it cannot do would be nice – in general of course.

  • Michiel

    Fantastic article, I was gonna write an article of my own, but why botter if it has already been done so nicely.

    I will refer people from my weblog to this article!

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