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What's involved to fix a disconnected mailbox?

Exchange administrators can disable or delete disconnected mailboxes using the EAC or Exchange Management Shell.

There are two core elements to every Microsoft Exchange 2016 mailbox. First, an enterprise Active Directory user account provides security and retains the configuration information for the Exchange mailbox. Second, the user's mailbox data is kept in the provisioned Exchange mailbox database. These Active Directory and data storage elements work together to form a mailbox. However, a mailbox can disconnect when the association between data storage and AD user account elements breaks.

Disabling or deleting a mailbox will disconnect it. Disabling a mailbox removes Exchange details from the Active Directory (AD) user account, but the AD user account is preserved. Deleting a mailbox deletes the AD user account along with the Exchange details. Any contents of a disabled or deleted mailbox are still preserved for the deleted mailbox retention period -- usually 30 days -- before being purged. A disconnected mailbox can be disabled or deleted using the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) or Exchange Management Shell.

Disabling or deleting a mailbox will disconnect it. Disabling a mailbox removes Exchange details from the Active Directory user account, but the AD user account is preserved.

A third disconnected condition may occur when a mailbox is moved to a different database. The old mailbox isn't deleted when the move is finished. Instead, the old mailbox is retained and set to a deleted state -- called soft-delete -- where it is retained until the deleted mailbox retention period expires or it is purged deliberately.

Exchange administrators can take a variety of corrective actions by reconnecting disabled mailboxes to the same AD user account, connecting the disabled mailbox to another user account that doesn't already have a mailbox, restore the deleted mailbox content to the user's new mailbox or permanently delete the disconnected mailbox. Administrators can reconnect or restore disabled mailboxes using the EAC or the Connect-Mailbox cmdlet through the Exchange Management Shell. Similarly, administrators can merge the contents of disabled mailboxes with another existing mailbox using the Mailbox Replication Service driven by the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet. The steps and syntax used for these procedures is detailed in Exchange 2016 documentation.

A major part of Exchange administration revolves around organizing and managing recipients. Exchange 2016 supports an array of individual, group, and resource -- such as room and equipment -- recipient types that allow tremendous flexibility and control. But it's important for Exchange professionals to understand what recipient types are available, the roles each type serves, and the features that can be applied individually or in bulk.

Next Steps

Uses for an inactive mailbox

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How does your organization handle disconnected mailboxes?