How to Recover Deleted Mailbox Item in Exchange 2016

Exchange 2016 mailbox recovery is a tedious task, especially when you don’t have any backup or are not familiar with Exchange server. In this post, we discussed different methods to help you recover accidentally deleted mailbox in Exchange 2016. These methods include use of Exchange tools and features, along with advance Exchange recovery solution to restore deleted mailbox items in Exchange 2016.

It’s quite possible that you may accidentally delete a mailbox from your Exchange 2016 while managing the mailboxes. If you are familiar with Exchange, you must know that it offers several ways to recover deleted mailboxes.

By default, the deleted mailbox is disabled and remains in the Exchange database for 14 days. It remains disconnected and hidden from the network until the grace period expires or you permanently delete the mailbox. Therefore, in case you want to recover an accidentally deleted mailbox in Exchange 2016, you can do so by using the Exchange Admin Center (EAC), Exchange Management Shell/PowerShell commands, and a third-party Exchange recovery software, such as Stellar Repair for Exchange.

All the methods to recover deleted mailbox in Exchange Server 2016 are discussed below in detail.

Methods to Recover Deleted Mailboxes in Exchange 2016

Method 1: Recover Deleted Mailbox in Exchange 2016 via EAC

As mentioned, Exchange 2016 keeps deleted mailboxes for 14 days by default. You can recover deleted mailboxes before this retention period expires without using your backups or when backup isn’t available.

Step 1: Login to Exchange Admin Center (EAC) and go to recipients>mailboxes

Step 2: Click More icon (three dots) and choose Connect a mailbox. This opens list of disconnected or deleted mailboxes in Exchange 2016

Step 3: Click on the mailbox that you want to recover and click Connect. Click ‘Yes’ when prompted. This displays a list of user accounts that aren’t connected to mailboxes

Step 4: From the list, choose the user to which the mailbox belongs or you want to connect and click ‘OK

This will connect the deleted mailbox to the selected user account. Login to the user account to access the mailbox.

Method 2: Recover Deleted Mailbox through Exchange Management Shell

Scenario 1: Restore Deleted Mailbox to a New User Account in AD

You can use Connect-Mailbox command in Exchange Management Shell to connect a deleted mailbox to a new user account and recover a deleted mailbox in Exchange 2016.

Connect-Mailbox -identity “John” -Database “EDB1” -User “John” 

-Identity parameter: Name of the deleted mailbox retained in the mailbox -Database named EDB1. The -User parameter specifies the user account name in Active Directory to which you want to connect the Mailbox.

Scenario 2: Recover Deleted Mailbox to Existing Mailbox

This method explains steps to recover and restore deleted mailbox to existing Exchange mailbox. Type the following commands in Exchange Management Shell,

Get-MailboxDatabase | Get-MailboxStatistics | Fl

This will display information about all the disabled and deleted mailboxes in your organization. Copy the MailboxGuid of the mailbox that you want to restore. And then paste the following command. Replace the GUID with the MailboxGuid code you copied.

New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceStoreMailbox GUID -SourceDatabase EDB1 -TargetMailbox "Maria" -AllowLegacyDNMismatch

How to Verify If Deleted Mailbox is Successfully Connected?

There are three ways to verify if a deleted mailbox is successfully connected to a user account,

In the EAC,

  • Click on Recipients and then go to page where mailboxes are listed
  • Click Refresh icon, and check if the mailbox is visible in the list

In Active Directory Users and Computers,

  • Right-click on the user account that you connected to the mailbox and choose Properties
  • Under the General tab, check if the E-mail box contains email address for the connected mailbox

In Exchange Management Shell, run the following command,

Get-User  <identity>

Get-Mailbox  <identity>

The command will display the UserMailbox value for the RecipientType property. The commands will verify if the user account and the mailbox are connected.

Method 3: Recover Deleted Mailbox with Exchange Recovery Software

Stellar Repair for Exchange, an efficient third-party Exchange Recovery Software, allows you to recover deleted mailboxes in Exchange 2016 as well as deleted mail items that cannot be recovered via manual recovery methods.

The deleted Exchange 2016 mailboxes and items can also be restored from previously stored offline Exchange files. The only condition to restore the deleted Exchange mailboxes or emails is that they must lie within the set-mailbox retention period.

You need to run the tool in the offline Exchange mode and select ‘accidentally deleted the mailbox’ from the list. Next, save the restored mailbox as PST and then re-synchronize the mailbox with the Exchange Server. You may try yourself here.

How to Extend Deleted Mailbox Retention Period in MS Exchange?

Exchange usually keeps the deleted items in the Deleted Items Folder for a period of 14 days. But you can customize the retention duration as per your need. And here’s how,

You can manually configure the deleted items retention setting for mailbox database or mailbox itself via EAC,

Step 1: Launch Exchange Admin Center (EAC) and click on Servers in features pane
Step 2: Next, select the desired database tab and select a database
Step 3: Click on the Pencil icon or double-click on the database name for editing the settings
Step 4: Click on Limits option and modify the duration of days given under “Keep deleted items for (days),” Also click ‘Don’t permanently delete items until the database is backed up’

You can also extend the retention period for individual or identity mailboxes via Exchange Management Shell. Here are the steps,

To Extend Retention Period for Single User Mailbox:

To set user John Russell mailbox for keeping the deleted items for a period of 30 days. Run the following command in Exchange Management Shell:

“Set-Mailbox -Identity “John Russell” -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30”

To Extend Retention Period for Multiple User Mailboxes:

To retain deleted items for the period of 30 days for all the user mailboxes within the organization. Run the following command in Exchange Management Shell:

“Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | Set-Mailbox -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30”

Now when the deleted mailbox retention period is extended, you can recover deleted mailbox in Exchange 2016 anytime within this defined duration. Even though there are various methods available for deleted mailbox recovery, all these procedures demand careful execution as they involve the probabilities of data loss.

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