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This article providers step by step instruction on how to restore individual mail items back to user mailboxes in Exchange 2007.


Before restoring user mailboxes, verify if Exchange native tools can be used to restore the items.

When a user deletes items from the Deleted Items default folder by using the Delete, Shift+Delete, or Empty Deleted Items Folder actions, the items are moved to the Recoverable Items\Deletions folder. The duration that deleted items remain in this folder is based on the deleted item retention settings configured for the mailbox database or the mailbox.

By default, deleted items are kept for the period of 14 days, and deleted mailboxes for 30 days.

Here is a list of Microsoft articles that will help you restore items if they are not purged from your mailbox database.

Exchange 2007

Scenario: user deleted folder in his mailbox

Let's use for our example following scenario: 

User Billy has accidentally deleted his IMPORTANT folder, and by the time he discovered that folder is missing, item has been already purged from Recoverable Items storage container. Here is screenshot of his original folder

In this scenario, we deleted "IMPORTANT" folder and purged "Deleted Items"

Steps to recover

1. Determine which database hosts user mailbox

We need to find out which mailbox database hosts Billy's mailbox. If your environment uses a single mailbox for all users, skip this step.

Exchange Management Shell (Poweshell)

Get-MailboxStatistics -identity billy | fl


2. Create "Recovery Storage Group" using Exchange Management Console

In this step, we need to create recovery storage group, which serves a purpose of temporary storage for our restored mailbox. 

(warning)  Make sure, that disk where you create recovery database, has enough free space to accommodate entire mailbox database. If you production database is 500Gb, you need same amount of space to restore a copy mailbox copy to recovery database 

 Open the EMC (Exchange Management Console), from the Toolbox node, click on the Database Recovery Management


Type the name of your Exchange server and Domain Controller server name 


In Manage Recovery Storage Group click on the Create a Recovery Storage Group


Select the Storage Group that you want to restore from 


Choose the location of the original Storage Group 


3. Use ZCB/ESB to restore mailbox to Recovery Storage Group

Lunch ZCB/ESB, select backup run containing your mailbox database, set appropriate options on Restore Tab. 


4. Mount Recovery Database

Exchange Management Console 


5. Restoring Mailbox Items from a database is Recovery Storage Group 

In Manager Recovery Storage group select "Merge or copy mailbox content"





A list of available mailboxes will be displayed.  Make sure you have only selected the mailbox that you wish to recover items for, then click on “Perform merge actions”.




When the merge has completed the items will be visible in the end user’s mailbox.

Restore Items into sub-folder of user Mailbox 

We will use Restore-Mailbox cmdlet to restore entire folder Inbox into Restore folder. If you want perform more granular restore, like specifying subject of the message for example, see more detailed information about Restore-Mailbox cmdlet


restore-mailbox -RSGMailBox "Billy Gates" -RSGDatabase "RSG1\2NDMailbox" -id "billy" -TargetFolder "Restored" -IncludeFolders \Inbox\Important


Verify results in Outlook

Alternative restore destination - Outlook PST file

In some scenarios, you might want to get restored items in the form of PST file, rather then recover them directly to user mailbox. For example you need to retract emails of the employee who is not longer with organization. In such case, you would want to create temporary user with exchange mailbox, recover email items to it, and then extract recovered content to PST file. Following Microsoft article will help you to export mailbox to PST file: How to Export and Import mailboxes to PST files in Exchange 2007 SP1

5. Perform cleanup operations

  • dismount recovery database and storage group. Delete files from database folders
  • if you used temporary user for recovery, delete its mailbox and account in AD and associated files, like PST. 


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