Recovering Mailboxes with Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1

Creating a Recovery Storage Group

If you would like to recover a single mailbox on your production Exchange Server 2003 you are able to do so. You just have to add and configure the fifth storage group on your server – known as Recovery Storage Group and you will not have to configure your separate recovery server in an isolated forest as you had to do with Exchange 2000 Server.

You can create this storage group using your Exchange System Manager as seen in the following screenshot.


Figure 1: Creating the Recovery Storage Group

After you have created your recovery storage group on your server you then have to configure the location of its files.


Figure 2: Recovery Storage Group Properties

Now you should choose the database that has to be recovered using “Add Database to Recover” from its context menu.


Figure 3: Adding the Mailbox Store

With this configuration your Exchange Server 2003 now knows that a recovery of this mailbox store is possible. If you look at the properties of this group you will recognize that the feature “This database can be overwritten by a restore” is checked.


Figure 4: Mailbox Store Properties in Recovery Storage Group

Recovering a Mailbox Store

If you now want to restore a mailbox from your backup you just have to choose that database itself and restore it to its original location. The backup software itself does not recognize that there is another storage group where it is being restored. That is done by the registry settings and seems to be very tricky.


Figure 5: Restoring a Database from Backup

So far so good, until that you do not have any changes at all before having installed Service Pack 1. In former configurations without this Service Pack you would have had to use Exmerge to solve your problem. This has now gone. You could do this more quickly and in an easier manner.

The next step now is to go to the Recovery Mailbox Center in Exchange System Manager and add the recovery storage mailbox there.

Now you are able to find your lost mailbox and can reconnect it to the user or another user without mailbox. This is done using a wizard. It can be accessed via the context menu of a mailbox that is currently disconnected in the mounted recovery storage group database.


Figure 6: Starting the “Recover Mailbox Data” Wizard


Figure 7:
Choosing the destination mailbox store


Figure 8: Choosing the recovery method

Then the user can logon and use the restored data.

Conclusion

Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 now has a really good feature for recovering mailboxes on a production server without any downtime or lots of installation procedures. You do not have to buy any 3rd party tools for this if you like this way of resolving your problem. For more information on that feature you should visit: http://www.microsoft.com/exchange.

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