Restore an Exchange Mailbox Database using Data Protector

Forgive the boring title for this post but I do think that this is a really important topic and one that I had to deal with recently at work.  Somehow one of our Exchange mailbox databases became corrupted and one of our users lost a ton of email, which, I’m almost 100% sure was related to the outage catastrophe we experienced 1.5 weeks ago.  This event made me thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I was getting good backups from our (sometimes shaky) backup solution, Data Protector.  Anyway, for this topic I will just assume that you are getting backups from whatever backup solution but it isn’t all that important because the majority of this post will cover specific instructions for the procedure within Exchange, so you can take bits and pieces and apply them where you need to.

Before I go any further, it is always worth mentioning;  make sure you are getting good backups! 

Ok, now that we have that out of the way I will show you the basic restore procedure within the Data Protector environment.  Select the Restore option from the drop down list -> MS Exchange 2010 Server.

Then select the source to backup up (Whichever database that needs to be restored).  With in Data Protector specify the restore options that you would like.

These are the options I used most recently.

  • Restore method: Restores files to temporary location
  • Backup version: Whichever data you decide you need to roll back to
  • Restore chain: Restore only this backup
  • Target client: Select the mailbox server that you want to restore to
  • Restore into location: This can be any location, just make sure there is enough disk space.
  • Select Restore databse file only

Once you have chosen your restore options, click the restore button to begin the restore procedure.

Once the database has been restored with Data Protector

Now for the fun stuff.  This is the part that I’m guessing most will probably be concerned with, but I didn’t want to leave out my Data Protector peeps.  Open up an Exchange Management Shell on the mailbox server that you restored your database to.  Technically it can be from any server as long as you connect to the correct mailbox server I guess.  Anyway, rename your restored database to something like “recoverydb.edb”.  Change directories into the restore folder, then check the status of the newly restored database with the following command:

eseutil /mh recoverydb.edb

You should see something similar to the following:

If it shows Clean Shutdown you can skip ahead.  Since we didn’t bring any log files down with us in this restore we will need to run the database hard repair on this database using the following command:

eseutil /p recoverydb.edb

After running the repair you should get a clean shutdown state if you check again (eseutil /mh).

Now we need to create a recovery database for Exchange to use in order to recover this data from.

New-MailboxDatabase -Recovery -Name “recoverydb” -Server Mailbox1 -EdbFilePath “M:\recovery\recoverydb.edb” -LogFolderPath “M:\recovery” -Verbose

It is important that when you create your recovery database it matches the renamed .edb file.  So since I renamed my recovery database to recoverydb.edb, I used recoverydb in the Powershell command.  If you want to check to make sure this step was done properly, use the following command to verify that the database is roughly the size you are expecting it to be:

Get-MailboxDatabase -status | select Servername,Name,DatabaseSize

After everything looks good we mount our database.

Mount-Database recoverydb

Just to verify that the database has stuff in it and we can find the person we’re looking for, we will take a quick look at the database contents, as shown below.

Get-MailboxStatistics -Database recoverydb

It looks like there are users there so all we need to do now is dump their emails into a temporary/recovery account in Exchange with the following command:

Restore-Mailbox -RecoveryMailbox “user_to_recover” -Identity “temporary_account” -RecoveryDatabase recoverydb -TargetFolder “RecoveredItems”

  • -RecoveryMailbox is the user mailbox that we are pulling data from, the source mailbox
  • -Identity is the user mailbox that we are putting data into, the destination mailbox
  • -RecoveryDatabase is our newly created recoverydb
  • -TargetFolder is the a folder that we will create on the target user to house the recovered items
  • -Verbose optional debugging information if there is a problem anywhere in the process

The wording and syntax of this command is a little bit tricky.  Just remember that the -RecoveryMailbox signifies the backup location and the -Identity signifies the restore location.  After this process completes (could take awhile depending on the mailbox size) you should be able to log in to the temporary account and take a look at the newly created “RecoveredItems” folder in which the mailbox contents of the user mailbox we are restoring have been copied in to.

Once this is done, just right click the target mailbox (temporary_account), click Manage Full Access Permission and give the restore mailbox (user_to_recover) full permissions through the Exchange Console so you can copy over messages, etc. in Outlook.

This step can be done any number of different ways but I chose this method because I was more concerned about the safest way to do this.  You could, for example, copy the contents directly into the user mailbox if you wanted.  Another option would be to export the contents of the temporary user out into a .pst file, with something like the following:

New-MailboxExportRequest –Mailbox mailboxserver –FilePath \recovery.pst

That should be it, after you are done and the emails have all been recovered , be sure to dismount the recovery database and delete the files to free space back up on your mailbox server.


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Josh Reichardt

Josh is the creator of this blog, a system administrator and a contributor to other technology communities such as /r/sysadmin and Ops School. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.