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The amazing reappearing mailbox

Why it happens, and what to do.

One peculiar and frustrating Exchange problem involves deleted mailboxes that haven't been deleted correctly. For example, an administrator deletes a mailbox, only to still have it appear in Mailbox Resources with an allocation of space in the database. Attempting to retrieve properties for the mailbox (or delete it again) brings up the following error:

"The object cannot be found in the directory. This may be because replication has not completed. / c1010aae"

This problem can have several causes, the most common of which is a replication failure, but it is also known to happen if the administrator attempts to delete mailboxes selectively by using the bulk import feature. (See Microsoft Knowledge Base article 184160 for more on this phenomenon.)

To resolve this problem, create a new mailbox with the same directory name on the same server, then delete it. Having a mailbox with the same name will force the non-de-allocated space from the old mailbox to be allocated to the new mailbox, and deleting the new one should free up the old space.

If there are several mailboxes that are exhibiting this problem, the best way to re-allocate their space would be through the DS/IS Consistency Adjuster on Exchange 5.5 or higher, available through the Exchange Server Administrator application. Run the Adjuster and select only "Synchronize with the directory, and create new directory entries for mailboxes that do not have a corresponding directory entry." Do not use any of the other options, but select "All Inconsistencies" for the filter. After the Adjuster finishes running, delete the mailbox.

Note that this will only adjust inconsistencies for that server, and not for mailboxes that are homed on one server but have resources on another.

Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators – please share your thoughts as well!

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