Help Deleting Exchange mailbox and backing up data

Posted on 2011-10-03
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I am at a client site and they want me to remove old user mailboxes but save the emails for future reference and to save space on the server. How can I do does?

I was told to log in as the user create a pst to store all emails and save it to a hard drive.
Then disable the user mailbox and delete it. Not sure if thats a good way but I hope you all can shed some light on this for me.

Thanks in advance
Question by:IT_Fanatic
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    This is really straight forward with no risk. There are differences between exchange 2000/2003 and exchange 2007/2010, but the easiest way, if you have not a lot of mailboxes to export is to grant an account full mailbox rights on target mailboxes and log in Outlook to browse them.

    From there, you can safely select file-> export and save the full mailbox in a PST file

    You can validate the export by opening PST file from another Outlook and see everything is in there.

    If you use 2000/2003 you will want to delete exchange mailbox from DSA.MSC and run a cleanup agent on your storage group to purge explorted mailboxes.

    If you're using 2007/2010 you must disable the user to detach its mailbox from Exchange EMC (since Delete will erase both mailbox AND AD user)

    Read about Exmerge and powershell scripts to automate this process if you have lot of mailboxes to export.

    This WILL NOT make space on the server since database can not be shrink dynamically. You will have to dismount it and run eseutil /d to offline defragment it and shrink the database. It requires free space in the disk (if database is 50gb, you will want to have like 80+ gb free)

    If you dont run eseutil, the database will have 'free space' in it, some blank pages reserved for future data.

    Author Comment

    Ok so you are saying to go to a pc with outlook and create a pst of all the emails and just save that file to a hard drive for example? Then once that is backed up to disabled the mailbox or just delete it to get it out of exchange completely?
    LVL 6

    Accepted Solution


    1. get rights

    In exchange 2003 : Use dsa.msc, display advanced functionnalities, change mailbox rights and add a user who is NOT domain admin. give him Mailbox full access
    In exchange 2007 SP1+/2010, go in exchange EMC, mailboxes, right click and give rights to mailbox to this user

    2. Access Mailbox

    On a PC with Outlook, create a new profile for this user. connect his main mailbox. In advanced parameters, add all other mailboxes, they will all be displayed on the left pane

    3. export mailboxes

    Select each mailbox and click File/Export to file-> PST, select top of mailbox, include subfolders and chosoe a destination folder and name for PST file (external harddrive, network folder...)
    In outlook 2010 click menu-> Open->Import/export to access this feature

    4. check PST

    Open PST on another outlook. Check contacts, calendars, feel safe

    5. Disable users

    If using Exchange 2003 : Use DSA.MSC and disable the user. Right click it and use Exchange Task menu to DELETE MAILBOX.
    Open Exchange manager and browser Information store. Right click -> Cleanup agent.
    Click each MB with a red cross mark and select Purge

    If using Exchange 2010 use Exchange EMC -> Recipients select user and Disable its mailbox.
    I dont remember the powershell command to purge the mailboxes so you'll either have to wait for the retention time to expire or turn it to zero. Tomorrow, ull turn it back to whatever it was (14 or 30)
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    Hello, Have I answered your question or is there anything else you want to ask ?


    Author Comment

    I am going to try your method but my co-worker says that is not a safe way. He suggests buying symantec enterprise vault. What do you feel about his response?
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    they want me to remove old user mailboxes but save the emails for future reference and to save space on the server.
    I think he just wants to clean it up but keep the archives "just in case". PST Export is perfectly safe, and used a lot.
    Of course Symantec Enterprise Vault is the big way to do it, it has some requierments to be installed and less quicker than a simple export. You should talk with your clients about his real needs: Does he want to keep some archives (PST) of old mails, or does he need a full automated email archiving and indexing solution usable from a web browser ?

    His answer will give you the answer :)

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks Ill give that a shot and sounds like a great idea.

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