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Where are email files kept on Exchange?

Posted on 2013-11-29
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Last Modified: 2014-02-03
Where are the users' mail files kept on Exchange server?
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Question by:jmarkfoley
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Expert Comment

by:Seth Simmons
ID: 39685550
All users' mail accounts are stored in databases.
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Expert Comment

by:David Atkin
ID: 39685562
As per the other comment, the emails are stored in your Exchange Databases.

For more information on how mail is handled, have a read here:

Exchange 2013 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996349.aspx
Exchange 2010 - http://msexchange2010.info/archives/1656
Exchange 2007 - http://muralidharanmcts.wordpress.com/ex-2007-mailflow/
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39685767
Is there any way to access messages in these databases directly, for example to recover messages from a backup?
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Expert Comment

by:guswebb
ID: 39685800
You can restore an Information Store (the database containing the emails) from backup and mount it in order to export data from a mailbox. Which version of Exchange are you using?
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39686329
guswebb: Excellent! I am using Exchange 2007. How would I go about doing this?
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guswebb earned 500 total points
ID: 39686530
You need to create a Recovery Storage Group (essentially a copy of your Information Store which you mount for the purpose of retrieving content).

Here are two guides on how to complete the process...

http://www.petri.co.il/using_rsg_in_exchange_2007.htm
http://www.msexchange.org/articles-tutorials/exchange-server-2007/high-availability-recovery/Working-Recovery-Storage-Groups-Exchange-2007.html
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39695947
guswebb: Thanks, I'll check those out ASAP.
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39700348
Kind of stuck ... Your link http://www.petri.co.il/using_rsg_in_exchange_2007.htm seems to provide both the process of creating the Recovery Storage Group and the all important part of snagging the backup for use in the RSG. The 2nd link seems to assume you have the backup copy "somewhere" already. The problem with the info on the petri link is his example backup source. He shows the desired file located at Desktop > Microsoft Exchange Server > SQA-LCS2005 > Microsoft Information Store > First Storage Group. That's great, but I have no such location on my SBS 2008 host and a search for "Microsoft Exchange Server" and "Microsoft Information Store" turn up no matches. Also, "My Computer" shows in his folder hierarchy whereas SBS2008 and WIN7 use "Computer", so I wonder what OS he is hosting Exchange 2007 on?

Anyway, I'm still stuck at square-one: where are these files located on SBS 2008? If I can figure that out I can get to the backup and maybe follow the rest of petri's instructions.
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Expert Comment

by:guswebb
ID: 39700418
You can view the path of your Information Store by right-clicking your mailbox database in Exchange Management Console and selecting Properties.
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39701930
Inching forward ... there are 3 'mailbox' entitied in the Exchange Management Console, one each under: Organization Configuration, Server Configuration and Client Configuration. Only the one under Server Configuration appears to have First Storage Group > Mailbox Database. I assume, therefore, this is the one I want, correct?

I'll see about restoring from this First Storage Group per the petri instructions and post back.
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Expert Comment

by:guswebb
ID: 39702999
That is where your live Information Store is, yes. If you are mounting an older copy of the Information Store you might place it in the same directory however you could really mount it wherever it is stored just by specifying the path to it when creating the new mailbox store. The instructions I gave you previously should be adequate to guide you through this process, but please ask if you have any further queries.
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Author Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39734384
I've restored the First Storage Group and Second Storage Group folders from a backup to to a temporary folder. Coupla questions before I proceed.

1. The 'petril' instructions have me create a Recovery Storage Group. This is not going to affect my running/current Exchange mail data, is it?

2. I'm then suppose to "restore" the RSG database, then "merge" selected mailboxes or selected messages.

Again, the terms are a bit confusing. I don't actually want to restore anything to the live, current mail data. I want to examine the backed up mail and possible export a mailbox to a new .pst file, but NOT restore anything to a current mailbox. The 'petril' page is not clear (to me) about this.

Before moving forward, can I still do what I want? If so, I would appreciate some steps which likely depart from the 'petril' link.

THX
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Expert Comment

by:guswebb
ID: 39734510
RSG sits alongside your live mailstore and does not affect it.

Once the RSG mailbox is mounted you can export contents from it e.g. one mailbox at a time, or even the inbox folder of a particular mailbox, for example. Read these links and you will get a better feel for what the RSG offers you....

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb124039%28v=exchg.80%29.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa997694%28v=exchg.80%29.aspx
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Author Closing Comment

by:jmarkfoley
ID: 39829662
I've got the mail files restored, but haven't had a change to pursue accessing the emails yet. I've revisit this in the future. Thanks.
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