Recover a Deleted Mailbox

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Daniel Petri in Exchange Server with 0 Comments

How can I recover a deleted mailbox in Exchange 2000/2003?

In Exchange 2000 and Exchange Server 2003, if you delete a mailbox, it is disconnected for a default period of 30 days (the mailbox retention period), and you can reconnect it at any point during that time. Deleting a mailbox does not mean that it is permanently deleted (or purged) from the information store database right away, only that it is flagged for deletion. At the end of the mailbox retention period, the mailbox is permanently deleted from the database. You can also permanently delete the mailbox by choosing to purge it at any time.

This also means that if you mistakenly delete a mail-enabled user account, you can recreate that user object, and then reconnect that mailbox during the mailbox retention period. You should configure the deleted mailbox retention period at the mailbox store object level.

Note: This tip is only useful for mailboxes that have been deleted but are still available in the Exchange database. Purged mailboxes will need to be restored by use of the different process, depending on your Exchange server version:

  • In Exchange 2000 – Alternate Forest recovery method
  • In Exchange 2003 – Alternate Forest recovery method or Recovery Storage Group

I will add some pages on the above topics later this month. In the meantime let’s assume that the mailbox is indeed retained in the mailbox store.

To Delete a Mailbox in Exchange 2000/2003:

  1. Right-click the user in Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Click Exchange Tasks.

  3. Click Next on the Welcome page of the Exchange Task Wizard.
  4. Click Delete Mailbox.

  5. Click Next, click Next, and then click Finish. The mailbox is now flagged for deletion and will be permanently deleted at the end of the mailbox retention period unless you recover it.



To Reconnect (or Recover) a Deleted Mailbox:

  1. In Exchange System Manager, locate the mailbox store that contains the disconnected mailbox.
  2. Click the Mailboxes object under the mailbox store.
  3. If the mailbox is not already marked as disconnected (the mailbox icon appears with a red X), right-click the Mailboxes object, and then click Cleanup Agent.

  4. Right-click the disconnected mailbox, and then click Reconnect. Pick the appropriate user from the dialog box that appears.

  5. Click OK. Now you see that the old mailbox is no longer listed under the name of the old user. Instead it has the name of the user it was reconnected to.

Note: Only one user may be connected to a mailbox because all globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) are required to be unique across an entire forest.

To Configure the Mailbox Retention Period:

  1. Right-click the mailbox store, and then click Properties.
  2. On the Limits tab, change the Keep deleted mailboxes for (days) default setting of 30 to the number of days you want.
  3. Click OK.

This article covers how repair PST file corruption as well.