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Recover former employee's email

Posted on 2011-09-13
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I need to access the email of a former employee.  This is a 2008 SBS domain  

Here's the situation:

His profile is still on his old computer and I have full access to the machine

The 2008 sbs domain that the computer was connected to is still in service

His account and mailbox were deleted a few months ago from the server, but his old profile is still on the old workstation

I might have an old backup that would still have his original account, but the time frame is probably before the emails we need to retrive.  

What's the easiest way to recover his emails?









 
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Question by:KMDComp
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530522
Log on to the workstation - on the network, then pull the LAN cable out once the logon has completed, then open up Outlook.

It should open up the locally cached copy of the emails and then you can Export them to a .PST file if you want to keep a copy more easily available.
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36530524
Can you find his .pst on the machine? If you can open outlook click file/open and click on the .pst The name of the folder associated with the data file should show in the Folder List.
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36530550
Alanhardisty: Do I need to log in under his user name?  I don't know his old password.

Raremind: In his profile, he just has a OST file, no pst.  
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36530574
Not a problem, OST it is! this is your solution:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/195793

Let us know how it works.
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530580
Yes - in which case - having seen that the account on the server has been zapped - you would need to know the password.

If you don't know the password, then you can look through the profile logged on as another user, copy the .OST file (if using cached Exchange mode) and then look for a tool to convert the .OST to a .PST file (many available on the web at various prices).

If there is a .PST file available, then that makes your life a thousand times easier.
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530603
@raremind - that would be useful if the password was known - but as it isn't, it won't help.  Also, if the password was known, you could simply log on and open Outlook with the LAN cable unplugged, which would force Outlook into offline mode anyway (as it would on a laptop without Wi-Fi or a LAN cable).
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36530609
I just thought of something, if I use one of those linux hacks to reset his accounts local password, that might give me access to his local profile and let me try your orginal suggestion.

Or maybe I could create an account for him on the server and then reconnect his old profile to that new account?  

Just thinking out loud, but if I have to spend some cash, so be it....
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530623
Yes to the linux idea - but we can't discuss that on EE!

Connecting his old profile isn't going to work unless you create an account with the exact same SSID as they had before.
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36530632
Ok, I won't go try it right now.
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530636
Sure - you make sure you don't!  ;)
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36530688
@alanhardisty if there is not server side mailbox, would the not to be mentioned idea work?
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530701
Yes - if the PC can be logged in to using the old account cached on the PC.

Needs to be done off the LAN though or the PC will moan about the lack of account on the domain to log in to.
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36530707
That's my point it has to be done on the LAN does it not?
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36530717
Nope - if you can login to the PC locally without a LAN cable attached, then you can open up Outlook happily and read the emails.

If you don't have an account on the Server, then you try to login to the PC connected to the LAN, it won't let you login as it will authenticate to the DC and deny you access.
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Expert Comment

by:AlexM1337
ID: 36531712
Try this:

Log on his computer with the network cards turned off.

Check to see if the OST file still exists on the computer

Log in as that user on that computer

Open up outlook (with any luck it will show his mail)

From here you can archive out his mailbox with the outlook archive tool

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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36531751
@AlexM1337 - your comment adds nothing that hasn't already been suggested.  Please read all other comments fully before joining in a question half-way through.

NIC disabled is the same as LAN cable unplugged.

Alan
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36531764
Grrrrr, no good on that way that I'm not actually going to try, can only mess with local users, not domain users that weren't added to any of the local groups on the machine.  
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36531766
@alanhardisty Thanks! Wow I hate when people throw up answers without reading the whole post.
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36531811
It happens - I did it when I started posting on EE and learned quickly not to!!

Drive-by postings are often unhelpful or repeat something that has been said before.  It's all part of the fun @ EE :)
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36531823
What flavour is the client that the account is in?  XP?

If so, create a new user account in the LAN, login as that user on the PC then reboot the PC and login as a domain admin.

Delete the profile C:\documents and settings\new profile\*.* and then copy over the profile of the user who has left.  Make sure you can see hidden files and folders before you copy / paste.

Log off and unplug LAN cable.  Log in as new user and you should get old user profile.  Open Outlook and hopefully smile :)
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36531848
Recreate the user on the domain? Wouldn't that be easier?
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36531875
No - it will be given a different SSID.  The profile on the PC won't match the SSID in AD and it will complain and not let you login.
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Assisted Solution

by:raremind
raremind earned 100 total points
ID: 36531923
@alanhardisty You can recreate a deleted account in AD from the PC http://support.microsoft.com/kb/840001
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36531992
You can - but it is a step that isn't / shouldn't be necessary.  You would need to take the DC offline and boot into DS Restore Mode, which is not for the feint-hearted, and we don't know if there is a System State Backup handy.

Not to mention the disruption to everyone else on the domain!
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36532231
I get an error, can't start microsoft office outlook
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36532258
What is the error?  Is the LAN cable unplugged?
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36532275
Yep, cable unplugged, "cannot start microsoft office outlook", going to check event viewer when I get a chance.  
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36532301
Oh well - not what I was hoping for.

Do you see their .OST file in their profile?

If so - how big is it?
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36532305
1.2 GB
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36532311
Is there a way to create a new account and change the SID?  His old one is listed on the security tab of his folders or is that not what it looks like/not possible?
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Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36532328
Well - as raremind has suggested, you could use a backup of AD to restore the deleted account, or you could get the .OST file converted to a .PST file.  That would seem to be the easiest approach right now.
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Accepted Solution

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Alan Hardisty earned 400 total points
ID: 36532340
I use Kernel OST to PST tools to convert any that I need to for customers:

http://www.nucleustechnologies.com/exchange-ost-recovery.html

Other products do exist and I am in no way affiliated to Kernel :)
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36532442
Thanks for all the help guys.  I might give the DS recovery mode a shot this weekend when I can take the DC down for awhile or I might try restoring an old backup that should still have his account on it as a VM.  

If that doesn't work, I'll just bite the bullet and pay for the converter software.  Either way, I learned a lot about windows profiles and user accounts today.



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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:Alan Hardisty
ID: 36532456
No problems - be careful with DSRestore - VM would be a good option to play with.

If you know someone who has the software - they could always convert it for you to save you buying it for a one-time use.

Anyway - good luck and if you need more help - just post again.

Alan
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Expert Comment

by:raremind
ID: 36532492
I agree be careful, let us know how it plays out.
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Author Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36538372
I tried a few more agressive things to get that account working, still no go.  

I downloaded some software this morning and got the file converted to a PST and found the emails I needed.  $74, not too bad.  

Thanks for all the help.
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Author Closing Comment

by:KMDComp
ID: 36538396
Gave the bulk of the points to alanhardisty, since that's the solution I ended up using, but I felt that raremind's solution would have worked as well if I was dead set against spending money.  Thanks guys.
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