Is there any harm in removing SoftDeleted mailboxes?

I know Microsoft publishes an article about how to do it but did not know if there were any caveats with removing a SoftDeleted mailbox prior to the retention period specified on the database. Our policy for disconnected mailboxes is 30 days. I am doing a ton of mailbox moves and starting with SP1 in 2010, any mailbox that is moved from one DB to another gets put in Disconnected Mailboxes as a SoftDelete. This ties up space on the source DB and I don't want to wait 30 days before Exchange deletes it through the normal process.

Getting rid of these SoftDeletes makes more whitespace on the source DB and keeps it from growing faster. Unfortunately there is no way to adjust the retention policy without affecting the disabled mailboxes which we want to keep for 30 days. If someone knows of a way to change the policy to only affect SoftDeleted mailboxes, let me know. Or, is there a way to move a mailbox without created a SoftDeleted copy on the source,
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The purpose of the retention period is to give you a quick "backout" solution to restoring a mailbox.  If you are fairly certain you don't need the mailbox data, purge out the mailbox.  You can always restore the mailbox if you need to.

I do this all the time with excessively large mailboxes that don't contain critical data. If they do contain critical data, I export only the critical bits before I purge it.

As for the retention policy, it is per mailbox store.  If you have space for another mailbox store, you could always create a "softdelete" mailbox store with a lower retention period and move them to that store.  Please keep in mind that doing so would create another database file taking up space, while the space would not be taken back from the originating database.  That is of course referencing the "whitespace" you were referring to that must be filled in the original database before the database itself will request more space from the hard drive.
Also, you might try running the cleanup agent (if it's available in 2010) to see if it cleans out the mailbox data that got left behind after the move.
shadowtuckAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I was not aware you could "move" a soft deleted mailbox. Is that what you were referring to with the extra database just for soft deleted mailboxes? If not, it almost seems like I would first have to move the mailbox in question to the Soft Deleted mailbox first before making the final move to the new database so the Soft Deleted mailboxes gets created on that database. That's not practical. So its there (Soft Deleted) in case the user has an issue with the mailbox on the new database? What then? Just right click and select Connect to an AD account without a mailbox? Microsoft seems to make a distinction between a Disabled mailbox and a Soft Deleted mailbox but to me its just a mailbox that you can connect to any AD account that does not have a mailbox.
It actually appears that you cannot move a soft deleted mailbox, as it's sole purpose is to remain in the original location in case errors happen when the real mailbox is moved.

What I did find though (for exchange 2013) were some powershell commands that will list and remove any of these soft deleted mailboxes.

This guy explains the exact issue and command to get and remove all soft deleted mailboxes:

Please note that I would ensure a full backup was taken before I performed this command.  While it's pretty clear what the command is doing, I'd want to be ready if something goes wrong.

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shadowtuckAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I have those commands to purge out the soft deleted mailboxes. I have never been asked to restore a mailbox after a move using the soft deleted mailbox. Its just a snapshot of the mailbox immediately prior to the move so once the user is up on the new database, it quickly becomes out of date. Only time I think you would use this is if you moved a mailbox and the mailbox somehow becomes corrupt and the user cannot even open it or all the messages are corrupted if they can open it. Very unlikely but I suppose it could happen.

At that point you would have to disable that mailbox leaving the user with no mailbox. Then create a new blank mailbox and using power shell restore the Soft Deleted mailbox to the new mailbox. This brings in other issues as the LegacyDN changes with the new mailbox so users replying to older emails sent by this mailbox will bounce. Only way to avoid this is to get the LegacyDN value before disabling the mailbox and create an X.500 address on the new mailbox with this LegacyDN. I know all this because I ran through some tests in my test environment and documented the procedure. Just posting this in case someone else needs to know.

Regarding your comment on a backup before running the commands, its always good to get a backup before doing anything but in this case, I can't see how it would help as a backup will most likely not capture mailboxes in the Disconnected node and even if they did, I don't know of any way to recover them from a backup. I suppose what you could do is create a "recovery" mailbox and then restore the Soft Deleted mailbox to that before purging it completely but that is a ton of work.
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