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Exchange 5.5 public folders restore & re-homing problem

Unfortunate scenario:
An Exchange 5.5 server in one of the multiple sites of the organization crashed. Then it was restored. Then in unfortunate turn of events, the public folders were restored. Then the development from this scenario happened : (Public Folders Are Re-Homed When You Restore the Pub.edb File)

The whole organization is Exchange 5.5 (I know ...) with plenty of sites in various regions and around 65 GB of data in the public folders. The migration to Exchange 2003 is ongoing (yet the public folders are hosted only on 5.5 servers). Now due to the re-homing (to the restored server) many of the public folders can't be accessed anymore by any user or admin in any site. Needless to say the new restored server doesn't have any data in the public folders.

Microsoft describes the scenario in the support article I mentioned but it doesn't provide any solution whatsoever. Any way I can get the public folder back ? I know the information is there as it takes 20 days for the orphaned directories to expire - but how to recuperate/restore it ?

Any help/advice would be highly appreciated.
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1 Solution
If you have deleted tem retention on you can recover them using a utility called mfcmapi or mdbvu32.

If all Public Folders are contained on a given server(s) You may have to recover them in a duplicate dummy environment. The only real limitation to restoring to a dummy install that you can restore then export the Public Folders from then import back in to current location.

 However the Public Folders should have been rehomed only from servers that were not able to be contacted by the Exchange server that the DS/IS consistency adjuster was run from.

How many 5.5 servers hold the Public Folders alltogether and the critical ones? Also how large are the PF Stores. Do you have any single PF larger than 2GB?
apletosuSupport EngineerAuthor Commented:
That's what I am trying now - restoring it in a dummy environment - by copying the public folder database to a separate server. It takes a while though. I am not sure if I will still be able to access the date once the restored server that run the DS/IS consistency adjuster already re-homed the folders. The replication reached all the critical servers - that's when users started noticing they don't have access anymore.

Altogether the public folders are replicated (parts of, not all the public folders) to around 25 servers. The critical ones were hosted and replicated on/to only 3 servers. The PF stores (I suppose you refer to pub.edb) on those 3 servers are between 45 and 79 GB each.
Are all 3 of the critical servers in the same site?

If so you can use 1 DR server for all 3 restores.
If you have deleted item retention on the public stores you could simply authrest (authoritative restore) 1 of the 3 PF server's directory from before the rehome either 1 day to no more than 30 days old backup of the dir.edb although without a ton of detail here this may be risky but could be your quickest solution. I would keep a copy of the dir.edb from the server you may do this to before you do the authrest so you can always backout quickly if it goes wrong. You NEED to be sure about your restores though which date the backup is from and which server etc...

basic concept is restore dir before the PFs rehomed make sure communications between at least 3 critical PF servers is good so we don't rehome again and then restoreonly the dir if deleted item retention is is enabled and for long enough for it to still be effective the day of restore set the Exchange Directory service to disabled and when ready to start that service before doing so go to exchange cd or MS site and get authrest.exe but make sure it is the Ex 5.5 version and plop it in exchsrvr\bin folder then go to the exchsrvr\bin at cmd prompt and type in authrest 10000, 10000 and then start the directory service. With any luck this single stroke could fix your entire problem.
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apletosuSupport EngineerAuthor Commented:
Yes all 3 critical/source servers are in the same site - fortunately. The problem is there is no public folder backup whatsoever from before the re-homing and what I am trying to do now is restoring by using the already re-homed public folder database store from one of the servers. It doesn't matter that much if I can do "on site" restore - even if I can manage restore in a dummy environment and then copy the data back into the production environment is still ok - as long as I can get the data.

Plus of course I have to somehow fix the production environment and take back the ownership of the messed up folders (without having a previous backup).

I'll look through your recommendations and tools and see what I can come up with. I already finished the restore on the dummy server (using one of the PF databases from the already re-homed PF servers) and although I assigned all the folders to the recovery server's public IS I still cannot access some of them (was succesful accessing some others though).
PAQ / Refund
ee ai construct, community support moderator
Sorry for delay been quite busy. Probably a little too late but...

If deleted item retention was on even with no Public Store backup they could all be recovered with an 1 single authoritatve restore of any of the Exchange servers Directory (dir.edb) from vefore re-home happened but no older that 30 days prior to re-home. This is because the DS is  the responsible database for where a Public Folder or a mailbox "LIVES".
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