Managing Multi-Mailbox Search in Exchange Server 2010 (Part 2)

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


In the initial article we saw how to assign the Role Group to allow regular users to use this feature. In this article we will be looking at the features available during the creation of our first Multi-mailbox Search Request and also the default Discovery Mailbox.

Starting the creation of our first Multi-Mailbox Search Request…

Now that we have the legal mailbox assigned with the proper permissions, we can use Exchange Web App to log on to that mailbox using its credential. Click Options and then See All Options. Finally, click Manage Myself next to Options: and select My Organization (Figure 01).

Figure 01: Switching to Organization Management using Exchange Control Panel

We will notice that now we have only two items on the left side (Users & Groups and Mail Control). You may be wondering why we have Users & Groups item for the legal user since we added the mailbox into Discovery Management role group. The reason is that by default it has two roles: Legal Hold and Mailbox Search. The legal hold role can manage Litigation Hold at mailbox level and that is the reason our legal mailbox is able to see such items. In a future article we will see how to copy Role Groups and further restrict the permissions for a regular mailbox.

When you click Mail Control the only option available on the right side will be Discovery (Figure 02), and on the same page we will have everything that we need to manage a Multi-Mailbox Search task using Exchange Control Panel (ECP). The buttons starting from the left are self-explanatory: New (create a new Multi-Mailbox Search), Details (you can change an existent Search), Stop Search, Restart Search, delete search and refresh (just the ECP portion not the Search tasks themselves).

Figure 02: Multi-Mailbox Search main page using Exchange Control Panel

Click the New button and here we go, all we need to perform a Search using ECP, and we have 5 (five) main sections to configure our Multi-Mailbox Search request and an overview of each one will be described below:

Keyword Section…

In this section (Figure 03) we have several ways to enter the keywords that will be used to search the mailboxes. A simple way is to type in the keywords that we want to search for, such as: “String01” “String02” and so forth; we can also use some simple logical operators (AND, OR and NOT) to provide better results, such as: “string01” AND “string02” which will bring only items that have both keywords listed on it. By the way, we can also use wildcard “*” to increase our chances to find what we are looking for. In our example below, we are seeking for the keywords Project* and also the phrase “Top Secret”.

We also have the option to use AQS (Advanced Query Syntax) which is also used in Outlook, so if you already use that format to search for things in your Inbox, you can do the same here.

A final option is the message types, by default we have only E-mail items however, we can select which different types of items to search for.

Figure 03: Keywords section

Messages To or From Specific E-mail Addresses section

This section is a piece of cake, basically we can narrow down our search by defining the addresses (Figure 04) on either FROM, TO which includes CC and BCC. We have the option to click on Add users and select it from the Global Address List as well.

We can also use an entire domain using in either field. Bear in mind that by default there is no setting which means everything will be included.

Figure 04: Defining messages to or from specific e-mail addresses

Date Range section

In this section we just need to define the range that we want to search for. By default, the option selected is Don’t limit the search by date range but we can define the dates by just selecting Year, Month and day to start and end date as shown in Figure 05.

Figure 05: Defining the date range for the Multi-Mailbox Search request

Mailboxes to Search section

Here, we can define if we are going to search specific mailboxes or all mailboxes of the organization (Figure 06). By default, the option Search specific mailboxes or the mailboxes of member of distribution groups is selected however, there is no Mailbox or Distribution Groups listed, so we have to add the mailboxes that we want to search for or Distribution Groups where the members of that specific mailbox will be part of the query.

In case we need a global search just select the option Search all mailboxes.

Figure 06: Defining the mailboxes that will be part of the Search Request

Section Search name, Type and Storage Location

In this section we have to define the name of our current Search. In this initial search we are going to use Case 001 – Project XYZ Search and then we can define if we want to estimate the search results (default option) or we can use the option to Copy to a destination mailbox (Discovery Mailbox). We are going to use that in a bit!

Finally, we can check the option Send me an e-mail when the search is done. This way we don’t need to keep an eye on the task in the Exchange Control Panel.

Figure 07: Defining the Search Name and the results

Now we can click Save to start our first Multi-Mailbox Search request however. We saw that we can estimate the results to have an idea of what we are looking for, but we also have the option to copy the results to a destination mailbox which are called Discovery Mailboxes.

Validating the default Discovery Search Mailbox

In the initial article we went over a brief description about the Multi-Mailbox Search feature and we stated that Discovery Mailboxes are the repository for the discovered data. In the previous steps of this article series we were able to see where we can use a Discovery Mailbox and now we are going over the default Discovery Mailbox. Later on, we see how we can manage additional Discovery Mailboxes.

First of all, let’s see the properties of the existent Discovery Mailbox created during the Exchange Server 2010 deployment which is called Discovery Search Mailbox. The first thing that we notice is the different icon and all Discovery Mailbox share the same icon. Also, they are by default hidden from the exchange address list (Figure 08).

Figure 08: Discovery Search Mailbox properties using Exchange Management Console

The Discovery Mailbox has a limit of 50GB enforced at mailbox level which can be increased if it is required. If we use the estimate option in the Search we can predict the size of the data. This can help the administrator to increase the size of the Discovery Mailbox. The Discovery Mailbox is secure by default where the mailbox cannot receive e-mails and the Active Directory user associated to it is disabled as well.

Another good example that Discovery Mailboxes are not regular mailboxes is that we cannot even get the properties of the Message Delivery Restriction as shown in Figure 09.

Figure 09: Discovery Search mailbox mail flow Settings tab

If we look at the Full Access permissions of the default Discovery Mailbox (Figure 10) we will notice that the only group that has access to it is the Discovery Management. This is the reason why when we click on [open] after a Search is complete, we can open the mailbox without any issues. We will be using this in our next article.

Figure 10: Full Access Permissions wizard of Discovery Search Mailbox


In this second article of our series we validated all building blocks to create our first Multi-Mailbox Search Request and we have validated the initial Discovery Search Mailbox which is created during the installation process. Now that we have the basics, in the next article we can perform our first search exercise. 

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


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