Disable, Remove, and Rebuild a Exchange 2010 Mailbox without affecting the AD object

I have an odd issue with a User's mailbox that is going to require me to remove and rebuild the mailbox, and local Personal (Online) Archive, without affecting the AD User object. When removed I will need to rebuild the Mailbox and the Personal (Online) Archive using the original email address. I have already manually copied all emails from the Inbox and Archive.

I have read the MS documents but want help verifying and confirming all of my steps before moving forward. It seems that I always run into something that was not mentioned in the MS articles.

Are these steps correct and what do I need to be aware of? - if I missed anything:
1) DISABLE the Archive in EMC
2) DISABLE the Mailbox in EMC
3) Perform a REMOVE MAILBOX command, in PowerShell, on these two items.
4) Perform REMOVE MAILBOX on the Archive (how is this done?)
     - How do I identify the Archive mailbox ID to perform the Remove?    
     - Can I leave these mailboxes detached instead of removing them in case I need to connect them again for     troubleshooting the root issue?
5) Create a new mailbox and a new archive for the existing User, from within EMC with the original email address
     - Will the original email address be available for use?
6) Manually copy all emails and folders from my local .PST copy back to the newly created Mailbox and Archive

Are these the correct steps or have I missed something?
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Michael MachieIT SupervisorAsked:
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Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
The steps outlined by you look good to me.

As for your questions:  #4 and #5 are related.  If you leave the mailboxes detached instead of removing them completely, then the original email address won't be available for use with the newly created mailbox.

As to the archive mailbox, it works the same as a regular mailbox.  If you disable the archive mailbox, it becomes a disconnected mailbox. Then you remove it the same way you remove any other disconnected mailbox.
Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
3) Perform a REMOVE MAILBOX command, in PowerShell, on these two items.
4) Perform REMOVE MAILBOX on the Archive (how is this done?)

These commands are not necessary. Just disable the mailbox and the archive. Create new ones attach them to the existing AD Account.

@Hypercat -
If you leave the mailboxes detached instead of removing them completely, then the original email address won't be available for use with the newly created mailbox

This is not true. There are 2 types Disable and Remove. If you Disable this remove the Exchange attributes from the users AD Account, it then puts the mailbox in a Disconnected state until the "Delete Items Retention" value is met. Default is 30 days.

The other is Remove. This does the same as the Disabled setting but also Removes the Active Directory Account as well.

That being said, you want to "Disable" the account not Remove. Once the mailbox is in the Disconnected State you CAN use the same email address that was on the previous mailbox you disconnected.


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Michael MachieIT SupervisorAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the input guys, I will be able to look into this further on Monday (Friday here now) and provide updates.

One thing though. Each of you states different things regarding the email address being reused.

@hypercat: The MS documents state what you state but not as clearly. They instruct me to disable, then remove, then rebuild, but state nothing about using the same address again. Doing this should allow me to reuse, correct? Will it affect x400/500 and replies to this address or will I need to notify people of the possibility replies will fail until the User's name is repopulated manually?

@Will:By removing the Exchange attributes from the AD object I assume you mean clear the email info and save the changes, correct? I do not see any other info to remove in AD. The issues with the disconnected boxes will not replicate itself back to the new User emails box, correct?

I want to make sure I can reuse the email address before beginning anything, or I will need to plan for a change in addresses. I also like to measure 150 times and cut once, if ya know what I mean, so thanks for your patience.
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Michael MachieIT SupervisorAuthor Commented:
I have followed Will's suggestion and so far it has been successful.

I will provide an update tomorrow after a full day's use.
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
Based on my checking the related Microsoft Technet articles, it's a little unclear but it appears that you can reuse an email address for a disabled mailbox. (My recollection may be incorrect, because I haven't done this in quite a while, but in prior versions of Exchange I'm pretty sure I ran into problems with this.) However, that way you wouldn't have to perform the remove step unless you want to make sure that the old mailbox data is removed from the Exchange database before the retention period has elapsed.  As Will stated, the reason for disabling first and then removing is that you need to retain the AD account for the user. If you do an immediate remove on the mailbox, it also removes the AD account.

Once you create the new mailbox for the user, the address should be populated pretty quickly following your mailbox address policies.
Michael MachieIT SupervisorAuthor Commented:
@hypercat: Thanks for confirming what Will stated.

Following Will's suggestion, I have confirmed that using the Disable feature only disconnects the Mailbox and Archive from the AD object and does not delete the items or AD Account. Also, after disconnecting, I removed the Exchange address from the AD account and saved those changes. I then created a new Mailbox and Archive for the existing User and it auto-populated the original email address based on logon account name, which is what I wanted and is default for our Server. I was able to manually re-populate the Mailbox and Archive contents by copying the items back into the new Mailbox. The disconnected mailbox will be deleted following normal maint. processes.

The only issues I am seeing are the Auto-Complete entry fails, which is expected, and the ability to Reply to historical emails from this User's original mailbox fail, which is also expected. I have instructed Users on how to delete and repopulate the Auto-complete and to also forward any 'replies' to old emails.

I will close this out as Solved by Will since his instruction and information provided was dead on accurate and I want to thank both of you for your assistance.
Michael MachieIT SupervisorAuthor Commented:
Will's statement was 100% accurate and correct.
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