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How to perform Exchange Server data recovery from .OST files

Recovering Exchange Server from offline store (.OST) files can be challenging, but sometimes it's the only option if an Exchange server becomes corrupted. Learn about a third-party tool called Advanced Exchange Recovery that simplifies the process of performing Exchange data recovery from .OST files.

If an Exchange server becomes corrupted, there's a good chance that you can recover the damaged information from a Microsoft Outlook offline store (.OST) file -- especially if the same information is stored redundantly in many users' .OST files. However, recovering Exchange from .OST files can be challenging.

DataNumen's Advanced Exchange Recovery (AEXR) is a third-party tool I've recently discovered that simplifies the process of performing Exchange data recovery from an .OST file.

If the $599 price tag makes you wary, there's a free demo version of the program to let you determine if it'll perform as needed. (The demo version does not recover the actual data, but will tell you how many items have been recovered.)

The Advanced Exchange Recovery tool recovers every type of Exchange object stored in an .OST file, including:

  • Email messages
  • Folders and posts to folders
  • Appointments and meeting requests
  • Notes
  • Task items
  • Contacts

Embedded objects, attachments, and so forth are all recovered along with the items to which they're attached.

The recovered data can be exported into an Exchange personal store (.PST) file as large as 16 million terabytes (although it's likely you'll never have to export a file that large!). The .PST file is compatible with Outlook 97 to Outlook 2003.

Related resources on using Exchange .OST files:

Tip: Recovering Exchange Server from .OST files

Tip: Beware of .OST problems when rebuilding Exchange stores

Tip: Microsoft Outlook caching considerations

Tip: How to enforce Microsoft Outlook cached mode via group policy

Learning Center: All about .OST files

All versions of Exchange from Exchange Server 5.0 through Exchange Server 2003 are supported. Outlook 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 are not currently supported, but will be added at some point in the future.

The program requires the presence of Microsoft Outlook on the computer where the .OST files are present, since it uses Outlook's messaging interface to perform the recovery. For that reason, it should not be installed on the Exchange server itself, since Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook cannot coexist on the same machine.

Your best bet is to install it on a desktop system that's not itself a server but used to perform administrative duties, You can then either copy as many .OST files as you can find to the local machine or access them over the network.

Finally, the copy of Microsoft Outlook on the machine performing the recovery needs to be running in Corporate or Workgroup mode if it isn't already.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of  Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.

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