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Damaged exchange store - options to rebuild?

Posted on 2014-01-16
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Last Modified: 2015-04-15
Problem
Exchange has a damaged mailbox store. The raid card was failing (has been replaced) and caused some form of corruption - it's still working and live, we do have backups but the problem is already apparent in them. ESE will not let us create valid backups because of this. We also have a mailbox we can't delete out of the store. We need to somehow repair or replace the damaged store.

Setup
Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 w/ Exchange 2003 Sp2
~30ish mailboxes

I have tried running eseutil against the database and it failed and would not remount. (I can't recall which flags) I restored from a backup and it mounted back.  Are there possibly certain flags to run that might work?

What would be the best way to resolve this? I was thinking of setting up a temporary exchange server and migrating the mailboxes over, recreating the store on SBS, and moving them back over. Would that work? Can you do that with SBS 2003?

Other options: Export to PSTs, recreate store, import PSTs. What are the downsides of doing this?

Open to any other ideas as well.
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Question by:cbrasset
7 Comments
 
LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39787107
I can't advise you how to repair the store other than sending it out to a pro since eseutil couldn't do it.  

But, since you said you are open to other ideas, then why in the heck would you still be running exchange 2003?   With only 30 mailboxes you can easily outsource every bit of this to somebody like rackspace.com and make this somebody else's problem 24x7x365.  They'll even put it on the latest exchange server so everything works properly with mobile devices and insure that it is secure.

So that is my suggestion ... Call a managed exchange ISP and let them migrate this broken system to their environment.  You won't have any downtime and it is a matter of making some DNS changes to MX records and new mail will work fine while you are migrating over the data in parallel.

Cost is probably in the $150 / month range as well less than your time and what you would pay to repair your hardware.
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Author Comment

by:cbrasset
ID: 39787139
Unfortunately, not an option. Thanks for the reply though. Anyone else?
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:Larry Struckmeyer MVP
ID: 39787277
Hosted exchange is certainly one option if the mail will export.  I have just been through the exact scenario you describe and I always call MS Support when working on Exchange.  Most orgs are way to dependent on their mail for me to go it alone.  Well worth the $250 that MS charges to do the repair.  It is even worth it to find out that it can't be repaired and you will have to resort to plan B.
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Expert Comment

by:Korbus
ID: 39787282
ESEutil fails?  yuk.
If the datastore is up and running, which is what it sounds like,  I would go with your alternative route, and export them all to pst files, then import back into a new datastore.  I think you can still use exmerge with exchange2003.
Especially with only 30 mailboxes.  
If particular mailboxes give you trouble with exmerge, due to the damage, you may need to export those manually, (possibly in parts) using outlook.
Just make sure your get the entire mailbox, calendar, tasks, contacts, not just email.  Watch out for mailbox size restrictions when re-importing, thats a headache.

Downsides: I've lost user defined routing rules doing this in the past (though I think there IS a way to save those too).  Fairly time consuming, user email will be down during processing (if not they may loose emails that came in after you export thier mailbox, but before creating the new store).  You'll need to make sure you have somthing in place to catch those emails that come in during that time, (or finish up completely, before sending servers stop retrying and generate NDR's).
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39787287
For what it is worth, the last time I paid for the pro services to reconstruct it was $1000. This was also the incentive I needed to outsource email.  

If outsourced email is not an option, especially with only 30 mailboxes, then I urge you to reconsider why it is not an option.  You may be making some incorrect assumptions.
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Accepted Solution

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cbrasset earned 0 total points
ID: 40717272
Replaced the server and migrated to Exchange 2013.
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Author Closing Comment

by:cbrasset
ID: 40724607
Replacing the server was the best way to get off of Server 2003.
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