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We recently implemented an email archiving solution at work.  One of the requirements was that we configure automatic purging of messages older than 6 months in Exchange. 


One of our IT managers spent the better part of a month moving items out of the only copy of his PST into his mailbox so that they could be captured by the archive system and free him from his PST.  For whatever reason none of these messages were captured by the archive system and were purged by Exchange as per the items older than 6mo managed folder rule.  It took the manager 3 weeks to realize this so I had to come up with a creative way to get these messages back.

Today’s post covers how I was able to recover messages from his dumpster out of a 3 week old database backup.

Step 1: The Restore

Without boring you too much, the first thing required was to create a recovery database using the New-MailboxDatabase cmdlet.

New-MailboxDatabase –Recovery –Name RecoveryDB –Server MAIL1 –EDBFilePath D:\Recovery\DB\Recovery.edb –LogFolderPath D:\Recovery\Logs

The –Recovery option is very important as it specifies your new database as a recovery database. 

Once the database was built, I made sure to leave it offline and called in the Operations team to redirect the database restore in BackupExec to the Recovery Database.  Complete the restore then mount your database.

Step 2: Pulling Data from the Recovery DB

In order to restore mail from a recovery database you must have another mailbox on a live database.  Exchange does not allow you to take data from the RDB and move it directly to a PST file, it must first be moved to a mailbox.  There are actually two mail recovery cmdlets for Exchange 2010 SP1.  The first one I used was restore-mailboxThis cmdlet is great however after 3 hours I learned that if you want to recover dumpster data, this is NOT the one to use. 

The proper powershell command to use is New-MailboxRestoreRequest.  In addition to restoring email and dumpster data, you can also use this on disconnected and disabled mailboxes.  The most important  thing to know is that mailbox you list after –Identity is the target mailbox you want to restore mail to and –RecoveryMailbox  is really the source mailbox you are copying mail from.  Also the –TargetFolder option is also helpful as you can specify where data should go to.  This is especially helpful if you are restoring data to the mailbox of a live user.

New-MailboxRestoreRequest –identity targetuser –RecoveryMailbox sourceuser –RecoveryDatabase RecoveryDB –TargetFolder RecoveryFolder

Like my last post, this process is also managed by the Mailbox Replication Service.  This gets queued up and to get the status you can run Get-MailboxRestoreRequest with no attributes.  Once the process is completed you will have a live mailbox full of someone else’s data along with all of their dumpster items.

Step 3: Dumpster Diving

There are several ways to get mail out of the dumpster depending on what you need to do with it.  The first is to export the mailbox to PST.  You can do this using the New-MailboxExportRequest cmdlet.  For more information on how to use that, check my last post Exporting Mailboxes to PSTs.  This will take all contents of the mailbox and put it in a PST.  The items from the dumpster will be found under \Recoverable Items.

The command I chose to use was Search-Mailbox.  Similar to the previous step, you will require yet another live mailbox to export the mail to as it cannot be exported to itself.  Since this cmdlet is part of the enhanced auditing tools in Exchange 2010 I suppose it makes sense that you’d want to export the results to a separate mailbox but was obnoxious for my purposes.   Another reason I chose this cmdlet is because of the –searchdumpster option which let’s you do what it says.  So away I went:

Search-Mailbox –Identity SourceUser –TargetMailbox TargetUser –searchdumpster –TargetFolder DumpsterRecovery

Once this command completed I was able to open up the TargetUser mailbox in Outlook and there, see picture below, I found all of the lost messages purged by Exchange and ignored by my archiving system.  Hopefully, I’ll never have to do this again and neither will you.  

To give some credit where it is due, Andy Olson’s blog post Working With Exchange 2010 Recovery Databases was essential in helping me figure out where to begin.

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2011 6:37 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1

# re: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1
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There is something new in IntelliJ. The development involves making WebOjects nicer in IntelliJ. I am fascinated with how the development of IntelliJ. Seems like every other week, there is something to look forward to. - Kyle Thomas Glasser
Left by Kyle Thomas Glasser on Jan 15, 2012 3:43 AM

# re: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1
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You may also check how to send SMS from MS Exchange 2010 with Ozeki NG SMS Gateway:


Left by Ian Ecle on May 21, 2012 9:27 AM

# re: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1
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Recovering Exchange database is possible with free inbuilt utilities such as ESEUTIL and ISINTEG. Apart from these, third party Exchange Recovery tools are available hat support all major versions. More information is available here:
Left by Jenny on May 30, 2012 4:27 AM

# re: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1
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Some time you have lost your .edb files database of any reason for such problematic occurrence can be the uninvited corruption in the Exchange database, which happens mostly after Server crash or malware intrusion etc. In such a serious situation, the problem increased if you do not have a latest backup of the lost data, as it can say that this is database lost condition from exchange server. At this time, I have talk about to a third party Kernel for Exchange recovery tool is must. So, if you are facing such problem visit here :
Left by Bert Leen on Sep 06, 2012 8:13 AM

# re: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1
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truly agree with the statement to Exchange does not allows to take data from Recover Database directly. Regarding the severe situation, exchange database recovery application supports extracting data from Disconnected, Disabled, Dumpster and Recovery Database. It's a short and simple alternative to escape from technical complexities.
Left by olive on May 07, 2013 5:39 AM

# re: Dumpster Diving and Recovery Databases in Exchange 2010 SP1
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Thanks for placing this useful information on recovery database in exchange Server.
Recently, our organization was also experiencing critical data loss situations due to some hardware failure. Then, with the help of a third party Exchange Server Recovery software, we successfully recovered and restored our damaged Server,

R. Jim
Left by Robert JIm on May 27, 2013 8:27 PM

# Exchange Recovery from Disconnected, Offline & Crashed Server State
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thanks for elaborating the concept of Exchange server recovery. Database recovery is surely possible when Exchange is available, but what if Exchange sever is crashed, dirty shutdown or unavailable. At this time, a direct recovery from Offline and Dismounted EDB to PST should be conducted, to easily extract mailboxes out of crashed server into Outlook. Import these pst files into any Production Server. (The entire work procedure can be automated with Trusted 3rd party applications.)
Left by Lucifer on Jun 12, 2013 4:46 AM

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