How to mount a recovery database in Exchange Server 2010

Because of architectural changes, you'll need to create and mount a database to recover items in Exchange Server 2010. Follow these steps for mailbox recovery and get some command-line switches that will refine the scope of recovered items.

Before performing single item recovery in Exchange Server 2010, you must create a recovery database. But you must also mount the database before you can use it. Get the steps to mount the database, as well as the command line switches to recover various mailbox items.


Even after creating a recovery database, Exchange considers the database to be in a dirty shutdown state. Therefore, you'll need to use ESEUTIL to perform a soft recovery to prepare the database for mounting.

I opened a command prompt window and navigated to the folder containing the database. Next, I entered the dir command in PowerShell to view the folder's contents (Figure 1).

Perform a soft recovery before mounting the database
Figure 1. You'll have to perform a soft recovery before mounting the database.

You need to know which three character log extension the database uses. If you look at the name of the E00.CHK file, you'll see that the characters are E00. Once you have these three characters, enter them with the ESEUTIL command with the /R switch.

You should be able to mount the recovery database now (Figure 2). I was able to, but only after repairing the database using the ESEUTIL /P command.

You should be able to now mount the database
Figure 2. You should now be able to mount the database.

Even though I performed a soft recovery, Exchange Server still doesn't recognize my database as up-to-date (Figure 3). Repairing the database using the ESEUTIL /P command can cause data loss, so I recommend that you try to mount the database first. You should only perform a repair if the database refuses to mount.

Try repairing the database using the ESEUTIL command if you can't mount it.
Figure 3. Try repairing the database using the ESEUTIL /P command if you have trouble mounting it.

Recovering mailbox data

After mounting the recovery database , you can begin to recover mailbox data. Figure 4 shows a single-item recovery.

Exchange Server 2010 single-item recovery
Figure 4. This is an example of a single-item recovery in Exchange 2010.

The recovery uses the following command:

Restore-Mailbox –Identity User5 –RecoveryDatabase Recovery –RecoveryMailbox User5 –TargetFolder Recovery

The Restore-Mailbox command instructs Exchange to restore User5's mailbox using a recovery database named Recovery. The RecoveryMailbox portion of the command tells Exchange to place the recovered data into User5's mailbox, instead of another user's mailbox.

The TargetFolder portion of the command instructs Exchange to create a mailbox folder named Recovery and to place the recovered data there. This avoids flooding the user's mailbox with outdated items.

Exchange has placed all of the restored data into a folder named Recovery \ Recovered Data – User 5 – 2/6/2010 11:08:05 PM. Users can drag any item that they wish to recover from this folder into a mailbox (Figure 5).

Recovered Exchange 2010 mailbox data is moved to the Recovery folder
Figure 5. The recovered Exchange 2010 mailbox data was placed in the Recovery folder.

In this example, I restored User5's entire mailbox. But if User5 only needs to recover a couple of messages, you can use some command-line switches to control the scope of the data you're recovering.

The –SubjectKeywords switch lets you restore messages containing a certain word or phrase in the subject line. For example, if you only wanted to recover messages with the subject line: OWA Setup from User5's mailbox, you'd use the following command:

Restore-Mailbox –Identity User5 –RecoveryDatabase Recovery –RecoveryMailbox User5 –TargetFolder Recovery –SubjectKeywords "OWA Setup"

You can recover messages containing certain words or phrases within the message body, using the –MessageBody switch. For example, if you wanted to recover messages pertaining to the Contoso project, you'd use the following command:

Restore-Mailbox –Identity User5 –RecoveryDatabase Recovery –RecoveryMailbox User5 –TargetFolder Recovery –MessageBody "Contoso"

Some users create elaborate folder structures, so it's handy to be able to focus recovery efforts on specific folders using the –IncludeFolders switch. To recover messages only from an Inbox and Calendar, for example, use the following command:

Restore-Mailbox –Identity User5 –RecoveryDatabase Recovery –RecoveryMailbox User5 –TargetFolder Recovery –IncludeFolders \Inbox,\Calendar

You can also use the –SubjectKeyword,–MessageBody and –IncludeFolders switches together to filter results even more.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a six-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

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This was first published in June 2010

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