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Restoring an Exchange 5.5 mailbox

A step-by-step guide to restoring a mailbox.


Restoring an Exchange 5.5 mailbox
Adesh Rampat

There are any number of reasons that you might need to restore an Exchange mailbox. Perhaps the most common would be user error. For example, a user may accidentally delete a very important mail or a worst-case situation, the administrator may have deleted a mailbox.

To restore an Exchange 5.5 mailbox, you need a good knowledge of the features of the Exchange server, and you need a lot of patience.

There are third-party products that have the ability to restore a mailbox with ease. I now have one, but if you don't, you still may need to restore. This is a discussion of the resources I used to restore an Exchange mailbox without third-party tools and how I did it.

You will need a recent full backup tape and a backup server.

The hard disk capacity on the spare server will need to be larger than the size of the information store that will be restored. For example, if the current information store is 2GB, then the hard disk drive size on the spare server should be 4GB. The memory configuration should be a minimum of 256MB.

Install the necessary operating system (in my case it was Windows NT 4.0), but make sure that you do not use the same name for the server as that of the current Exchange server.

  • Install Exchange and create a new site using the same name as the current one.
  • Install the same Exchange service pack as you have on the original server.
  • Install Outlook.

Now you are ready to do the restore.

Insert the most recent full backup tape and run NT backup software from the newly installed recovery server. Do not join the original site. Instead, install to the new site and enter the original site name. Set up the restore this way:

  • Restore only the information store, not the directory service.
  • Enter the name of the backup server.
  • Erase ALL existing data including the private and public store.

Click the OK button.

Once the restore is completed, start Exchange Administrator on the backup server and click on the Servers button.

  • Select the backup server then click on the Properties button.
  • Choose the Advanced tab then select the Consistency Adjuster.
  • Check all options for the Consistency Adjuster.
  • Select OK.

Copying the mailbox

  • Go to the Recipients container on the backup server and double-click on the mailbox that needs to be restored.
  • Add the administrator's account as the Primary Windows NT Account then click OK.
  • Create a messaging profile, then add the mailbox to be restored by selecting the advanced tab of the Exchange Server Service. For a detailed discussion of setting up the Exchange server service, go to
  • Configure Outlook to access the mailbox to be restored. From the File menu select Import/Export. Then select export to a file. You will be exporting the mailbox to a .PST file.
  • Once the export is completed, copy the .PST file over to the original Exchange Server.
  • Create a new mailbox on your original Exchange server for the user and log on as that user.
  • Import the PST into the user's mailbox using Outlook.

This is an extensive operation, but it is one that has worked for me in the past. If there are other suggestions for performing a mailbox restore, please respond to this tip with that suggestion.

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.

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