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Exchange 2003 Recovery using ost files

We've recenly inherited someone else's problem, and need some expertise in trying to get this server back up.  This client's Exchange 2003 Enterprise server was practically nuked by someone.  Regardless, this is the situation: all of the ost files are sitting out at each users computer, and the exchange server is gone.  All of the stores have been lost, but all the inbound mail is queued up at an alternate mail server.  

We're trying to find the cleanest/easiest solution to this problem.  I was thinking of putting in a new exchange server in the mix, with a new name and moving the mailboxes over to it.

The key to this is going to be what needs to be done to the ost files if anything to get the mail back onto the server.

Thanks in advance.
2 Solutions

First thing I'd be doing is exporting the data from the client machines to PST files. You should be able to start the client in offline mode therefore viewing the data in the OST file and create a new PST file and copy the data into the PST. Then check that the data is accessible via the PST file and backup the PST's to a secure location that is being backed up.

Once you do this and get Exchange up and running again you should be able to use exmerge to import the data from each users PST file (that now contains the OST data) into their new mailboxes.
carlosmpAuthor Commented:
That was going to be our backup plan.  I was hoping to avoid visiting 65 desktops in 3 countries...

I was hoping that Exchange would be smart enough to know that the ost file had to be put back in the server...

Any other ideas?
Nope.  OST files are bound to the old server - the first thing you should be doing is emailing instructions out to get your users to export from the OST to a PST.

The only other hope you have is that you can find the EDB and STM files on the dead server.

The thing is, are you prepared to risk the loss of the data, just so that you don't have to visit some workstations? I wouldn't. Rule number one of disaster recovery - protect what data you have. That means you need to look at getting a copy of the mail in to PST files so if something else goes wrong you have a copy of that email.


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