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How to Perform Single Item Recovery in Exchange 2013

Summary: The blog contains information about Single Item Recovery in Exchange 2013 explaining its importance and the entire procedure to enable and disable the Single Item Recovery for a single user and multiple users.

Exchange Management Shell can be used to enable single item recovery in Exchange 2013. In Exchange Online, single item recovery is enabled when a new mailbox is created, and In Exchange 2013, a mailbox is created, the single item recovery is disabled. When a single item recovery is enabled, messages that are purged or permanently deleted gets stored and retained in Recoverable Items folder of the Exchange mailbox.

The deleted item is retained till the Exchange mailbox item retention period expires. This allows administrators to recover messages that are deleted permanently or purged by the user. When you enable single item recovery in Exchange 2013, replicas of the actual items are retained in case a message is changed by a process or a user.

Single Item Recovery can be used for recovering Exchange mailbox items without the need to restore databases using the backup media. The procedure is accomplished in a minimal duration of time. In the previous Exchange versions, recovering deleted items requires restoring the mailbox database from backup files. The procedure takes quite a considerable duration of time, and may sometimes get delayed up to hours.

Note: If you don’t want to use Single Item Recovery option, you can also use Exchange Recovery Software to recover Exchange Mailbox items. 

How Single Item Recovery Works?

When an Exchange mailbox item is deleted from the mailbox, it moves to the Deleted Items Folder, provided the user has not deleted it permanently using ‘Shift+Delete’ combination keys. When the Deleted Items Folder is emptied by user, it receives message “Are you sure you want to permanently delete all the items and subfolders in the ‘Deleted Items’ folder?” If the user selects to permanently delete all the items, they are then moved to the Recoverable Items folder.

The Recoverable Items folder is an important component of Single Item Recovery. The folder exists within a mailbox, but cannot be accessed from Outlook. It is stored in the mailbox’ non-IPM sub-tree which does not appear in Outlook.

Note: When Recoverable Items folder with Single Item recovery enabled is processed by Managed Folder Assistant, any item existing within Purges subfolder will not be purged if the deleted item retention period for that item has not expired.

Before you initiate a Single Item Recovery, keep the following pointers in mind:

• It is vital to assign necessary permissions before initiating the single item recovery procedures.
• By default, an Exchange 2013 mailbox utilizes deleted items retention settings of the mailbox database. This period is set for 14 days by default for mailbox database and user can configure this setting on per mailbox basis.
• Exchange Admin Center (EAC) cannot be used to disable or enable single item recovery Exchange 2013 procedure
• By default, the deleted item retention period is set to 14 days in Exchange Online and this setting can be changed to a maximum of 30 days.
• The entire process will take about 2 minutes to accomplish.

Enabling Single Item Recovery using Shell

Given below are the examples with the associated cmdlets for initiating Single item recovery

• Enable Single Item Recovery for Single User:

The following example allows single item recovery in Exchange 2013 for the user Russell Peter

“Set-Mailbox -Identity “Russell Peter” -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $true”

• Enable Single Item Recovery and Set Deleted Item Retention Period for Single User:

The following example enables single item recovery for the mailbox of user John Williams. It also sets the deleted items retention period to 30 days

“Set-Mailbox -Identity “John Williams” -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $true -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30”

• Enable Single Item Recovery for Multiple User Mailboxes

The following example enables single item recovery in Exchange 2013 for mailboxes of all the users in the organization

“Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | Set-Mailbox -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $true”

• Enable Single Item Recovery and Set Deleted Item Retention Period for Multiple Users

The following example enables single item recovery for mailboxes of all the users in the organization as well as set the deleted item retention period to 30 days

“Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq ‘UserMailbox’)} | Set-Mailbox -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $true -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30″

By using the above mentioned commands, you can easily enable recovering mailbox items in Exchange 2013 for single as well as multiple users. Also, you can set the deleted item retention period to 30 days for single and multiple user mailboxes.

Next Steps

Once all the procedure is accomplished, you will need to verify if a single item recovery is enabled and the value for deleted item retention period is set successfully. For this, you need to perform the following command using Shell.

“Get-Mailbox <Name> | FL SingleItemRecoveryEnabled,RetainDeletedItemsFor”

The above mentioned commands to disable or enable recovering mailbox items in Exchange 2013 provides a desirable output; however, the execution of these cmdlets demand core technical knowledge about Exchange 2013 Shell Command line interface. Therefore, a single mistake can lead to loss of data or even entire mailboxes in severe conditions.

If you notice any data loss while implementing Single Item Recovery procedure in Exchange 2013, you can go with a potential third-party Exchange Database Recovery Tool to recover your corrupt/inaccessible mailbox components.

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