Demystifying The Exchange Dial-tone Restore Method (Part 2)

If you missed the other articles in this series please read:





Outlook 2003 Exchange Recovery Mode


Now that the dial-tone database has been created, the next time any user with an Outlook 2003 client configured with cached mode logs on, she will be faced with the dialog box shown in Figure 1.



Figure 1: Outlook 2003 Exchange Recovery Mode


Outlook 2003 Exchange Recovery Mode lets you choose between Connect and Work Offline, if you click Connect you’re connected with an empty Exchange Mailbox similar to the one shown in Figure 2, that means email messages, rules, signatures, etc are gone, but you’re able to search the Global Address List (GAL) as well as send and receive email messages just like was the case before.



Be aware previous Outlook versions don’t receive the dialog box shown in Figure 1. Instead a user who chooses to work online will, in most cases, end up with an unreadable OST file, because the encryption data associated with the previous mailbox would be overwritten with a new key from the new empty mailbox. It’s therefore recommended to inform any user that accesses his/her mailbox with an earlier version of Outlook to open Outlook in offline mode then export the data to a PST file, which then can be opened or imported when opening Outlook in online mode. For more information I also suggest you read MS KB article: 282496 – Considerations and best practices when resetting an Exchange mailbox database.




Figure 2: Outlook 2003 in Online Mode accessing a Dial-tone database


If you click Work Offline the OST file (which is stored locally on the client) is opened, from here you can access any email message which was synchronized between the Exchange mailbox and the OST file prior to the Mailbox Store crash as shown in Figure 3 below.



Figure 3: Outlook 2003 in Offline Mode accessing the local OST file


Restoring the Mailbox Store from Backup


Now is the time to restore our crashed Mailbox Store from backup, we’re going to restore it to a Recovery Storage Group, so before doing anything else we need to create this special Storage Group. This is done by opening the Exchange System Manager, here you drill down to and right-click the respective Exchange Server object located under the Servers container. In the context menu select New then Recovery Storage Group as shown in Figure 4 below.



Figure 4: Creating the Recovery Storage Group


Specify the drive you want to restore the Mailbox Store to (see Figure 5). If disk space allows it, it’s a good idea to restore it to the same logical drive as the dial-tone database is currently located on, as this will improve performance drastically.



Figure 5: Specifying Log and System Path location


Click OK.


Now that we have the Recovery Storage Group in place, we need to add the database (the one we want to restore from backup) to this Recovery Storage Group. This is done by right-clicking the Recovery Storage Group, then select Add database to recover, which brings us to the screen shown in Figure 6. Here you should highlight the Mailbox Store you want to restore, then click OK.



Figure 6: Adding the database to the Recovery Storage Group


Now name the Mailbox Store (see Figure 7) then click the Database tab.



Figure 7: Naming the Recovery Storage Group Mailbox Store


Here you should just accept the defaults, but make sure This database can be overwritten by a restore is check marked as shown in Figure 8 below, then click OK.



Figure 8: Specifying the Recovery Storage Group Database location


We’re now ready to restore the Mailbox Store from backup, in this article we’re using NTBackup but if you have implemented a third party product such as Veritas Backup Exec that’s the one to use.


Start NTBackup by clicking Start > Run and type NTBackup, then select the Restore and Manage Media tab as shown in Figure 9.



Figure 9: Restore and Manage Media tab in NTBackup



If you don’t get the screen shown in Figure 9 when opening NTBackup, it’s because it starts in Wizard mode. If this is the case remove the checkmark in Always start in wizard mode, exit NTBackup and open it again.


Now expand File > Information Store.bkf > Server\Microsoft Information Store\First Storage Group and select the respective Mailbox Store as well as Log Files (see Figure 10).



Figure 10: Expanding and selecting the respective Media item


Notice the Restore files to: text box has Original location.


Click Start Restore then specify the server to restore to and a temporary location for the log and patch files. Also remember to check mark Last Restore Set (Log file replay will start after this restore completes.) and Mount Database After Restore (see Figure 11), then click Next.



Figure 11: Specifying the server, temporary location for log and patch files


The restore will now begin and depending on how large the Mailbox Store is this can take several minutes/hours. When the restore is complete simply click Close (see Figure 12) and exit NTBackup.



Figure 12: Mailbox Store restore complete


That was it for Part 2; look forward to Part 3 where I’ll show you how to swap the Mailbox Store (we just restored) currently mounted to the Recovery Storage Group with the dial-tone database, which is currently the production database. To end the article, I’ll show you how to merge the two databases.


And yes I promise you that the next article will be the last in this series!




If you missed the other articles in this series please read:




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