Exchange Server 2013 Backup and Restore 101 – Disabled mailboxes (Part 4)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

In the previous article of this series, we covered the process to restore data from a disabled mailbox. The process to restore the data from a deleted mailbox is not that different, and we are going over a few scenarios to demonstrate how an administrator can recover information from a removed mailbox situation.

Besides the process to restore the regular mailbox, we will work with Archives and we will go over the process to refresh the list of disconnected mailboxes from any given server and/or Mailbox Database.

Removing an existent mailbox…

Our first step is to define a user that we will use throughout this article, and we will be using Number6 mailbox (Yes, it is in honor of The Prisoner series) and our special mailbox has 6 messages on its Inbox, as shown in Figure 01.

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Figure 01

Based on the previous article, we know by now the difference between disabling and removing a mailbox, and in the Figure 02 we are going to delete the mailbox. Just to make sure that we are still on the same page, the process of deleting a mailbox will delete also the Active Directory account.

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Figure 02

It is time to restore…

As explained in the previous article, the task that we have just performed in the previous section will delete the Active Directory account and as part of the process the mailbox will be hanging in the Mailbox Database and it will show up as disconnected.

Since we ended-up in the same status of the previous article, we know that we share a couple of ways to restore the content of any disabled/removed mailbox, as follows:

  • Use a brand new Active Directory account and connect it to the disconnected mailbox (same thing as Disabled Mailboxes, we went over the procedure on the previous article, so no fun for us on this article!). The only difference is that when we use the reconnect button the wizard will have a single option which is No, I want to connect to a different user account (Figure 03)

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Figure 03

  • Restore the content using New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet (we explained this procedure on the previous article, still no fun!)
  • Restore the Active Directory object, that’s new!!

If your Active Directory has the Recycle Bin feature enabled, then we can restore the Active Directory object and that will automatically reconnect the current disconnected mailbox.

In our environment, we have the Recycle Bin enabled and we are running Windows Server 2012 R2 domain controllers (but the same is valid for previous versions that have Recycle Bin support). In order to restore any deleted user, these following steps can be used:

  1. Open the Active Directory Administrative Center
  2. Expand your domain and click on Deleted Objects container
  3. Find the desired user on the list displayed on the right side, and right-click on the object and then click Restore (Figure 04)

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Figure 04

As soon as the object is restored, the mailbox information will be displayed on the Exchange Admin Center as shown in Figure 05. The end-user will have access to logon to the network and access his mailbox exactly where he left off before being removed from the network.

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Figure 05

How about In-Place Archive mailboxes associated to the user? They will be restored as well. There is no need for additional steps.

How to refresh disconnected Mailboxes…

In several scenarios to restore data we will need to connect mailboxes. The process itself was shown in the third article of this series, and it is the same process to restore deleted mailboxes, the page with all disconnected mailboxes is shown in Figure 06.

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Figure 06

In some cases, a deleted/disabled mailbox may not show up automatically on the list of disconnected mailboxes and we can force that by using the Update-StorageMailboxState cmdlet.

If you want to refresh a list of a specific Mailbox Database, then the following cmdlet can be used:

Get-MailboxStatistics –Database <Mailbox-Database-Name> | ForEach-Object { Update-StoreMailboxState –Database $_.Database –Identity $_.MailboxGUID –Confirm :$False }

If the plan is to perform a refresh of an entire server, then this similar cmdlet can be used (where we change the filter of the first cmdlet):

Get-MailboxStatistics –Server <Server-Name> | ForEach-Object { Update-StoreMailboxState –Database $_.Database –Identity $_.MailboxGUID –Confirm :$False }

Restoring deleted Archive Mailboxes…

When a mailbox that has an In-Place Archive is deleted from Exchange Server 2013, the result will be two disconnected mailboxes. We can use a simple scenario, where the Number6 user has both mailbox and In-Place Archive.

In some scenarios we may want to restore only the content of the In-Place Archive mailbox. We can see the OWA view of the Number6 user in Figure 07, where he has some items on its Mailbox, and a folder called The Village on its In-Place Archive and that folder has two messages.

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Figure 07

We are going to delete Number6 user by selecting the account on Exchange Admin Center (EAC), and then clicking on delete button, and finally confirming the operation clicking on yes. (Figure 08).

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Figure 08

The result of this operation above is that on Exchange we will have two disconnected mailbox: the mailbox (no surprises here) but also the In-Place Archive mailbox, as shown in Figure 09. You may be wondering that the logical step would be to connect the In-Place Archive using Exchange Admin Center however, that is not supported, and we must use Exchange Management Shell.

We are going over the process to reconnect an Archive in more detail on the next article of this series, in this article we will focus on restoring the data of a deleted mailbox.

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Figure 09

How can we restore that information? Well, there are several ways to do that but we will work on two scenarios: restoring the disconnected In-Place Archive to a folder on an existent mailbox; or creating an Archive to an existent user and restoring that content directly to that new In-Place Archive mailbox.

Restore Option #01: Restoring the In-Place Archive to a folder…

The first step is to find out the MailboxGUID of the disconnected In-Place Archive mailbox and we can do that using the cmdlet below (Figure 10), a hint is that on the list of disconnected mailboxes on Exchange Admin Center will show up the Database Name so you can use that information in the cmdlet.

Get-MailboxStatistics –Database <DatabaseName> | ft DisplayName,MailboxGUID,DisconnectReason –AutoSize

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Figure 10

Having the MailboxGUID, the next logical step is to create a new Mailbox Restore Request using the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet (Figure 11). We will use additional parameters, such as –TargetRootFolder Restore-Number6-Archive, which is self-explanatory; and –AllowLegacyDNMismatch, which allows you to restore the data to a different mailbox than the original.

New-MailboxRestoreRequest –SourceDatabase <DatabaseName> -SourceStoreMailbox <MailboxGUID> -TargetRootFolder <FolderName> -TargetMailbox <Mailbox> -AllowLegacyDNMismatch

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Figure 11

Before testing, we must guarantee that the operation was completed, and to keep track of the status we can run the following cmdlet and wait for the Completed on the Status column (Figure 12)

Get-MailboxRestoreRequest

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Figure 12

The results can be seen in Figure 13, where the user Administrator will have a new folder that we defined as Restore-Number6-Archive containing the entire In-Place Archive of that deleted account.

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Figure 13

Restore Option #02: Restoring the In-Place Archive to an existent In-Place Archive..

This option is similar to the previous scenario but in this case, but we will restore the entire content of the disconnected In-Place Archive to an existent In-Place Archive mailbox. We will use the Number2 mailbox as target in this scenario, where the user has an empty In-Place Archive as shown in Figure 14.

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Figure 14

We are going to run a similar cmdlet (Figure 15) but at this time we are going to remove the parameter to define a folder on the destination mailbox and we are going to add –TargetIsArchive which will restore all data from the disconnected In-Place Archive mailbox to the In-Place Archive of the target mailbox (Number2 in this case).

New-MailboxRestoreRequest –SourceDatabase <DatabaseName> -SourceStoreMailbox <MailboxGUID> -TargetMailbox <Mailbox> -AllowLegacyDNMismatch -TargetIsArchive

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Figure 15

The result can be seen on Figure 16 where the In-Place Archive Mailbox of the existent Number2 user has all the information that used to belong to the Number6 user.

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Figure 16

Conclusion

In this article, we went over the process to restore mail data from deleted mailboxes using Active Directory Recycle Bin, and how to refresh the list of disconnected mailboxes in Exchange Server 2013. We also worked a couple of ways to restore data from a disconnected In-Place Archive mailbox either to an existent user or to another In-Place Archive.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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