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Restore a Microsoft Exchange Server

Exchange databases can be restored to the same server or to an alternate server. Three types of recovery operations are allowed by Microsoft Exchange:

  • Roll-forward
  • Point in time
  • Full restore

The state of the Microsoft Exchange server when the restore is started determines what type of recovery will be available. Please see this Microsoft documentation for details on Exchange recoveries.

All Exchange versions support restores to the Original location. In addition, you can restore Exchange 2007 backups to a Recovery Storage Group and Exchange 2010 or 2013 backups to a Recovery Database.

If you wish to restore an individual mailbox or message, please refer to Recover a deleted mailbox or a mailbox item below

Additional Requirements

Microsoft Exchange Server restores have many additional requirements. Some requirements will change depending on the version of Exchange in use.

Requirements for all Exchange restores

  • The following prerequisites must be installed for all versions of Exchange, except for Exchange 2003
    • .NET 4.0 or higher
    • Powershell 2.0 or higher

Requirements for Exchange restores to an alternate machine

  • The Exchange version and service packs on the alternate machine must be the same as the original machine. 
  • Exchange must be installed and must have the same Organization and Administrative Group name as on the original server.
  • The storage groups and databases must already exist on the alternate server, and have the same names as the original storage groups or databases.
  • Because you are restoring to an alternate "recovery server" that has a different set of log files, the signatures on the log files must match. 
    • To ensure this, either rename the E0x.log file located in the Transaction log directory, or enable the Do not mount the database option while creating a Mailbox or Public folder store.
  • The Volume Shadow Copy Service must be enabled. 
    • In Windows 2003 Small Business Server edition, the Exchange Writer is disabled by default. Please follow the instructions in this Microsoft knowledgebase article to enable the Exchange Writer.
  • The Exchange VSS Writer must be stable.
    • Run the command vssadmin list writers in the Windows command prompt to check that the state of the Exchange Writer.
    • If it is not in a Stable state, restart the Microsoft Exchange Information Store Service.

Additional Requirements for selective restores in Exchange 2003 and 2007

It is possible to selectively restore individual Public Folder Databases and Mailbox Databases in Exchange 2003 and 2007, but there are further requirements that must be met.

Individual databases can be restored without these additional requirements on Exchange 2010 and higher.

  • Selective restore of Public Folder Databases and Mailbox Databases can only be performed to the Original location for Exchange 2003.
  • Selective restore to the Original Location or a Recovery Storage Group is possible for Exchange 2007.
  • The Database Files and the associated Logs must be selected on the restore page. They will be listed separately. You must select both.
  • The Delete existing transaction logs before running the restore method (discussed below) is not allowed for selective restores to the original location in Exchange 2003 or 2007.
    • No Loss Restore - Do not delete existing transaction logs restore will be performed for all selective restores, even if Delete existing transaction logs is selected.

Special Options

Restore To

Microsoft Exchange Server has special options that take the place of the common Restore Locations found for most backup types.

  • Original Location
  • Alternate Location

  • Recovery Storage Group or Recovery Database

Each Restore Location may have additional requirements beyond those found above. Each Restore Location option is designed to fill a specific purpose.

Restore To: Original Location

If chosen, this will restore the selected database(s) to their original location. Restore to the Original location is most frequently used to fix a corrupted Exchange database or resolve issues with missing or damaged transaction logs.

Additional Requirements

  • Any database that is to be restored must be in the Dismounted state.
    • For Exchange 2003 and 2007, all Mailbox Databases and Public Folder Databases within the target Storage Group must meet this requirement, even if a single database is being restored.
  • The This database can be overwritten by restore option enabled through the Exchange System Manager (Exchange 2003) or Exchange Management Console (Exchange 2007 and higher).

Restore Method

You will be presented with two options when you restore to the Original Location.

No Loss Restore - Do not delete existing transaction logs

  • The existing transaction logs will not be deleted during the restore. Once the restore is complete, Exchange will perform a roll-forward recovery if all sequential transaction logs are found.
  • Because Public Folder Databases participate in replication by design, the No Loss Restore - Do not delete existing transaction logs method is not supported for any restores that include Public Folder Databases. The Delete existing transaction logs before running the restore method must be chosen.

Delete existing transaction logs before running the restore

  • This is a "Point in time" recovery method.
  • All transaction logs that are currently present in the Log directory of the Storage Group(s), to which restored Mailbox Database(s), Public Folder Database(s), and/or Storage Group(s) belong, will be deleted at the beginning of the restore process.

Procedure to restore Exchange server data to the original location

  • Navigate to the Restore page and choose a Restore Point.
  • By default, all databases will be selected. You may individually select a Mailbox Store Database or Public Folder Database & its associated Logs from Restore Select
  • Click the Edit button next to Review your restore settings.
  • Select  "Restore to Original Location" from the Restore To dropdown menu.
  • Select" Overwrite Original" from the Name Conflict Policy dropdown menu. 
  • Choose the Restore Method you wish to use.
  • Review your selections, then click Restore to start the restore process.

Restore To: Alternate Location

When chosen, this option will restore the Exchange databases to a different Exchange server. Restore to alternate Exchange servers is usually used when the original server is no longer available.

Additional Requirements

  • All Exchange-specific requirements must be met.
  • Any database that is to be restored must be in the Dismounted state.
    • For Exchange 2003 and 2007, all Mailbox Databases and Public Folder Databases within the target Storage Group must meet this requirement, even if a single database is being restored.
  • The This database can be overwritten by restore option enabled through the Exchange System Manager (Exchange 2003) or Exchange Management Console (Exchange 2007 and higher).

Procedure to restore Exchange server data to an alternate Exchange server

  • Navigate to the Restore page and choose a Restore Point.
  • By default, all databases will be selected. You may individually select a Mailbox Store Database or Public Folder Database & its associated Logs from Restore Select
  • Click the Edit button next to Review your restore settings.
  • Select  "Restore to Alternate Exchange Server" from the Restore To dropdown menu.
  • Select" Overwrite Original" from the Name Conflict Policy dropdown menu. 
  • Review your selections, then click Restore to start the restore process.

Restore To: Recovery Storage Group or Recovery Database

Microsoft Exchange Server allows restore of Exchange Mailbox Stores to a Recovery Storage Group in Exchange 2007 and to a Recovery Database in Exchange 2010 & 2013.

Recovery Storage Groups/Databases allow users to restore the Mailbox Store to a production Exchange Server without dismounting the existing Mailbox stores.

Only Exchange 2007 and up will support Recovery Storage Groups/Databases.

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It is not possible to restore a Public Folder Database to a Recovery Storage Group/Database. This functionality is not supported by Exchange. Any attempt to do so will result in a failed restore with the error "Restore could not proceed as VSS initialization failed."

Further details about the failure can be found in the Windows Application Event Logs.

Additional Requirements

All Exchange-specific requirements must be met. There are additional requirements for restores to a Recovery Storage Group/Database.

  • The Recovery Storage Group or Recovery Database must be created before the restore begins.
    • Use the Exchange Management Tool or the Exchange Management Shell to create the Recovery Storage Group/Database
  • All of the recovery databases in the Recovery Storage Group must be dismounted.
  • All of the recovery databases must have the "This database can be overwritten by restore" option enabled.
  • The Recovery Storage Group or Recovery Database folder must be empty.

If you are restoring to a Recovery Storage Group/Database on an alternate machine

  • The name of the alternate machine must exactly match the name of the original machine.
  • The recovery server must have the same Organization name, same Storage Group name, and same Mailbox Database name as the original server.

Procedure to restore Exchange server data to an alternate Exchange server

  • Navigate to the Restore page and choose a Restore Point.
  • By default, all databases will be selected. You may individually select a Mailbox Store Database or Storage Group & its associated Logs from Restore Select.
  • Click the Edit button next to Review your restore settings.
  • Select  "Restore to Recovery Database" from the Restore To dropdown menu.
    • For Exchange 2007, enter the name of the Recovery Storage Group
    • For Exchange 2010 & 2013, enter the name of the Recovery Database
  • Review your selections, then click Restore to start the restore process.

Recover a deleted mailbox or a mailbox item

ZCB does not directly support restore of individual mailboxes or messages. However, it is possible to use ZCB in conjunction with native Exchange tools to restore individual mailboxes or items.

Please refer to the following Knoweldgebase articles

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