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E-discovery capabilities expand with Discovery Search mailbox, and others

This is part two of a two-part series about Exchange 2013 mailboxes. Read part one here.

In Exchange 2013, Microsoft improved several mailboxes, such as Discovery

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Search Mailboxes and Public Folder Mailboxes. It also added new ones, like the Health or Monitoring Mailbox, which verifies the health of Exchange components. Whether improved or new, each mailbox gives admins more control and manageability. Here's a rundown of how they work.

Discovery Search Mailbox

The Discovery Search Mailbox stores results of an in-place e-discovery search, the extended multi-mailbox search functionality that began in Exchange 2010. Exchange 2013 e-discovery can search in Lync 2013 conversations, SharePoint 2013 documents and Exchange 2013 mailboxes.

Figure 1

Exchange 2013 setup creates a single Discovery Search Mailbox by default and is named DiscoverySearchMailbox{D919BA05-46A6-415f-80AD-7E09334BB852} (Figure 1).

The first mailbox database to be configured during the Exchange 2013 installation hosts the default Discovery Search Mailbox. This mailbox has restricted access and is only accessible to users with Discovery Management role group membership. It has a default size limit of 50 GB, which is required for storing the e-discovery data. You can create more Discovery Search Mailboxes for resilience or to carry out a number of searches in parallel. Larger organizations may want to create a mailbox per region or country.

Figure 2

Run the New-Mailbox –identity "Discovery Mailbox 2" –UserPrincipalName "DiscoveryMailbox2@domain.local" –Discovery command to create a new Discovery Mailbox (Figure 2).

The permissions for the newly created mailbox should be tightened so only users with Discovery Management role group membership have access.

If the mailbox for the account is deleted but the Active Directory user exists, run the Enable-Mailbox –identity "DiscoverySearchMailbox{D919BA05-46A6-415f-80AD-7E09334BB852}" –Discovery command.

Health or Monitoring Mailbox

Figure 3

Health or Monitoring Mailboxes are new in Exchange 2013; the managed availability process uses them. Two Health Mailboxes are created per mailbox database, one for mailboxes and the other for public folders. These mailboxes are not visible in EAC and have to be managed using the shell. Running the Get-Mailbox –Monitoring command displays all of the Health Mailboxes in the environment (Figure 3).

The managed availability process runs on all Exchange 2013 servers, and detects and prevents issues. For example, managed availability sends email to Health Mailboxes every five minutes to make sure that mail flow is working properly.

Figure 4

If these mailboxes become corrupt or are deleted by mistake, the Health Manager Service recreates them the next time the service restarts (Figure 4). The AD accounts for these Health Mailboxes are stored in ADDomain.Local/Microsoft Exchange System Objects/Monitoring Mailboxes OU (in Exchange 2013 CU2 v2).

If the Health Manager Service doesn't start automatically, delete all of the Health Mailbox accounts from the Monitoring Mailboxes OU and restart the service.

Public Folder Mailbox

A big change around Public Folders in Exchange 2013 is the removal of Public Folder (PF) databases. Instead, PF data is stored in Public Folder Mailboxes hosted by mailbox databases. This changes the PF high availability to be based on Database Availability Group (DAG).

The first PF Mailbox created will hold the only writable copy of the hierarchy and is known as the primary hierarchy mailbox. All subsequent PF Mailboxes will have a read-only copy. Running the Get-Mailbox –PublicFolder command lists all of the PF Mailboxes in the organization.

Figure 5

Use the New-Mailbox cmdlet to create a PF Mailbox (Figure 5). For example, to create a mailbox named Sales, run New-Mailbox –Name Sales –PublicFolder

The newly created PF Mailbox inherits the size limits set on the database level. This will need tweaking if you want to store more data than the maximum size set for User Mailboxes.

Other types of Exchange 2013 mailboxes include User Mailboxes, Resource Mailboxes, Shared Mailboxes, Linked Mailboxes and Archive Mailboxes.

Because they've been present in previous versions of Exchange, admins should be familiar with these mailbox types.

This was first published in September 2013

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