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Disabling and archiving mailboxes

We are running Exchange Server 5.5 with Outlook and a mix of Windows 2000 and NT4 servers. Over the last year we've had the usual turnover of employees and I would like to know the best way of disabling an e-mail account to prevent any new mail (e.g. spam) from going into a mailbox. I still want to allow for access to previously received mail in that mailbox. Is copying those mailbox folders to another's mailbox the only option?

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As an alternative, you could set up a catch-all mailbox for terminated employees (assuming you care to receive messages sent to the terminated user's old address), then create a new SMTP address for the terminated mailbox and set it as primary. Then delete the original SMTP address from that mailbox and create the same address on the catch-all mailbox. I'll illustrate with an example:

Let's say "Sally Sue" is being terminated. Sally's primary SMTP address was ssue@mycompany.com.

For starters I'd disable Sally's account so that she can no longer log in or receive mail. I'd then create an alternate address such as notssue@mycompany.com as a secondary SMTP address on Sally's mailbox. After that I would set notssue@mycompany.com as the primary SMTP address for Sally, and I would delete ssue@mycompany.com from the list of SMTP addresses associated with that account. Now I'd wait some time for Active Directory and Exchange to synchronize these changes. Once that's done I'd use my "Terminated Users" catch-all mailbox and add the address ssue@mycompany.com. This then allows me to capture any subsequent mail sent to Sally after her termination, while still preserving the contents of Sally's mailbox for inspection by HR or other interested and authorized parties. After a good amount of time has elapsed, I'd archive Sally's mailbox and shut it down permanently.

This was first published in August 2004

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