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How to Restore Exchange Mailbox Database to a New Server

Eric Simson  | Updated on October 16, 2020 | Exchange Server   | 13 Comments   | 6 min read

Summary: This guide helps you migrate and restore your Exchange database from old server to new. In this guide, we have discussed a few manual and an advance method that you can use to restore your Exchange databases to a new Exchange server without data loss or database corruption.

At some point in time, you are required to replace or upgrade your IT equipment. With time, either the hardware becomes slow or doesn’t meet your current requirements. Sometimes, you need to upgrade on the software part for better features and security, which may require new better hardware.

So if you have setup an Exchange server on a new server or thinking of upgrading your Exchange sever, you will need to restore and mount the Exchange database to new server.

By following this guide, you can easily migrate and restore your Exchange databases to new server with minimal downtime. It will also help you restore a corrupt or inaccessible/dismounted Exchange mailbox database to a new server.

But before we look at how to restore Exchange mailbox database to a new Exchange Server, let us first have a brief overview of Exchange downtime scenario.

About Exchange Downtime While Database Restore to New Server

Exchange Downtime is a situation that may occur when the Exchange server encounters failure, shutdowns, or experiences database or network connectivity issue, which disconnects all the user mailboxes and puts a hold to the entire business activity and email communications. This may happen during the database restore process.

Thus, it’s recommended that you perform the database restore task outside the work hours to avoid disruption in business continuity.

However, you can avoid this downtime and still restore the mailboxes from the database to a new server by using an Exchange recovery software, such as Stellar Repair for Exchange. The software helps you export recovered mailboxes from the database file of the old server and save them as PST, which can be imported into the new server. The software also allows you to directly import the recovered mailboxes to the new server in a few clicks. This software not only helps avoid downtimes and data loss but also recovers and restores accidentally deleted mailboxes and mailbox items to the new server.

restore exchange mailbox database

Methods to Restore Exchange Mailbox Database to New Server

Method 1: Use Database Portability

Database Portability is the easiest way to move Exchange mailbox database to a different server. It helps in quick migration of Exchange mailbox database from old server with minimal downtime.

What is Database Portability?

It is a Microsoft Exchange Server feature that allows admin to mount, move, or restore mailbox database on any target Server easily. It helps in decreasing the overall recovery time. The feature is available in Exchange 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019.

However, you can move mailbox database from one server to other (new) in the same organization. The other Exchange server database should have same database schema version as of the old. Also, you cannot restore or move database from previous Exchange server versions to newer versions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Database Portability works if the source and target Exchange servers are running on the same operating system and Exchange Server versions. For instance, if your current Exchange mailbox database is running on Windows Server 2012 and Exchange 2013 Server, you can only restore it to a new server running on Windows Server 2012 and Exchange 2013.

Things to Consider Before you Begin:

  1. The account you will be using should have required permissions for performing procedures
  2. The account on current Exchange and another Exchange server should have Organization Management and Recipient Management permissions on local and new target server

Steps are as follows:

  • Check Database to ensure it is in a Clean Shutdown state. In case, if it is step ahead. And, in case if it is not, then perform a soft recovery. To do so, open command prompt and run the command. 
  • Now, create a database on the server. To create, use the following command, 
New-MailboxDatabase -Name <DatabaseName> -Server <ServerName> -EdbFilePath <DatabaseFileNameandPath> -LogFolderPath <LogFilesPath>
  • Now, set that ‘This database can be overwritten by restore attribute’. To set it, just run the Exchange Management Shell command,
Set-MailboxDatabase <Database Name> -AllowFileRestore:$true
  • Now, copy the database files such as Exchange Search catalog, .edb files, and log files to the specified database folder on new server
  • After successful completion of moving process, mount the database. To mount the database, use the Exchange Management Shell command,
Mount-Database <Database Name>.
  • Enter the following command to move users from old database to new,
Get-Mailbox -Database <SourceDatabase> |where {$_.ObjectClass -NotMatch ‘(SystemAttendantMailbox|ExOleDbSystemMailbox)’}| Move-Mailbox -ConfigurationOnly -TargetDatabase <TargetDatabase>.
  • To trigger delivery of any pending message in the queue, use the following syntax,
Get-Queue <QueueName> | Retry-Queue -Resubmit $true.

Now, on successful completion of Active Directory replication service, you can easily access your Mailbox Database on the New Exchange Server.

Problems with Database Portability Method

  • Dismounts the database and thus, downtime is expected
  • Requires you to copy Exchange database to new server manually. This could take a lot of time and resources depending on the size of database and network speed
  • Requires you to perform soft recovery for the database, if it’s not in clean state
  • Active Directory replication and Re-submit queued messages increase downtime

NOTE: This also requires you to first rebuild the new server if the first server failed. The new server should be an exact copy of the old with same hardware and software configuration. See Rebuild New Server as Exact Replica of old Exchange Server to know more.

Method 2: Use Windows Server Backup (WSB)

On your current server, use Windows Server Backup to create backup of database you want to restore to new server. Once done, follow these steps on the new server,

  1. Open Windows Server Backup and click Recover to start the Recovery Wizard
  2. Choose ‘Another Server’ from the option and click ‘Next
  3. Choose location type and click ‘Next’. You can either choose Local drives or Remote shared folder, wherever you have stored the database
  4. Select the backup date and time for data restoration and click ‘Next’
  5. Select ‘Applications’ and click ‘Next’ and then ‘Next’ again
  6. Choose ‘Recover to another location’ and click ‘Browse ‘to specify the location
  7. Choose which database you want to restore on the new server

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The restored database will be in dirty shutdown state and thus, you will need to put the database back into clean shutdown state by using Eseutil.
  8. Review and confirm the restore settings and click ‘Recover
  9. Once the process is completed, click ‘Close’

To check if this worked, go to the directory where you restored the database and check if the database exists. You may also check the WSB logs to verify the job status.

Method 3: Restore via Dial Tone Recovery

If the old server is running fine but database is not mounting due to corruption, you can use the dial-tone recovery technique to get things operational quickly. All users will be able to send and receive emails. Thus, it can help avoid downtime while you fix and restore the data from the historical database. See how to Perform Dial tone recovery to avoid downtime to know more.

Method 4: Using Exchange Repair Tool

Database Portability based method has its own limitations and Windows Server Backup (WSB) requires you create backup data first in order to import it on the new server. This requires your current Exchange database and server to be in working state. Also, this can be done within the organization, in the same forest.
If you want to restore Exchange mailbox database to a new server or the EDB is not accessible/dismounted, the methods can’t help. For such situations, you should use an Exchange Recovery tool such as Stellar Repair for Exchange. It lets you export the Exchange mailbox database directly to Live Exchange server.

Stellar Repair for Exchange: An Overview

Stellar Repair for Exchange is an Exchange mailbox repair and recovery software to get back your mail items from corrupt or inaccessible Exchange mailbox database (EDB) files. This professional Exchange Database Recovery software is easy-to-use and has advanced features for seamless EDB Recovery. By using this software, you can restore and mount Exchange mailbox database from one server to another with minimum downtime.

It lets you export the repaired Exchange mailbox database files to various formats such as PST, HTML, RTF, EML, PDF, and MSG. As mentioned earlier, you can also export the Exchange mailbox database directly to new Live Exchange server or Office 365.

Rating by MVP:

Reference: https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/office/Exchange-2016-Recover-a-87622713


Restoring Exchange Mailbox Database to a different Server is not an easy task. With manual methods, you can effortlessly restore the Exchange Mailbox Database from the existing Server to another Server. And downtime during such executions is expected.

Thus, it’s better to use a software tool such as Stellar Repair for Exchange to restore Exchange mailbox database. It’s a powerful Exchange repair and recovery software that lets you export Exchange Mailbox Database directly to new Live Exchange server in the most efficient and secure way, even if the Exchange database is inaccessible or corrupt.

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