SolarWinds Backup Help

MS Exchange recovery

Please follow instructions for your recovery method:

  • Mailbox and single item recovery
  • Database recovery

If unsure which of the methods suits you better, please check the list of deletion and recovery options below.

Deletion and recovery options in MS Exchange

For Exchange mailbox and item recovery, several scenarios are available. In the case of a complete server or database failure, you may use Backup Manager Exchange restores or Virtual Disaster Recovery. For only restoring a mailbox or some items, the Exchange Server has several built-in features.

To provide reliable Exchange Server protection and quick recovery options, a combination of Backup Manager Exchange backup/restore and the Exchange built-in features can be used.

Since Exchange Server 2010 SP1, Microsoft has changed the architecture for item deletion and recovery. Deleted items remain in the database within the configured retention period for quick recovery. Using the Exchange Single Item Recovery option, it is also possible to recover accidentally or intentionally deleted items.

To understand the options for recovery, let us first explain different Exchange Server recovery locations and deletion types:

Term Definition
Deleted Items folder This visible folder contains deleted items (normal deletion). The end user can move them back by himself.
Recoverable Deletions folder After the Deleted Items folder is emptied, items move to this hidden folder. This folder also contains the Shift-Deleted items. The end user can move them back by himself.
Recoverable Purges folder Even from the Recoverable Deletion folder, a user can purge items. When the Single Item Recovery option is enabled, purged items move to this hidden folder.
Recoverable Versions folder When the Single Item Recovery option is enabled, the original email will be stored in this hidden folder when a user edits it.
Recovery Database In the case, an item is not recoverable using the previous methods, items or even a mailbox can be restored using the Recovery Database. Each Exchange database from a successful backup session can mount as Recovery Database, and restore items or mailboxes using the Microsoft tools.

The Recoverable folder structure is the enhanced version of the Exchange 2007 Dumpster. For Exchange 2010 and greater versions this structure is called Dumpster v2. The diagram below is a good summary of the flow for Exchange deleted items and this Recoverable Items structure.

Deleted items retention period

For the deleted item locations, described in the previous section, the default retention period differs. The Exchange Administrator can configure these retentions:

# Location Default retention
1 Deleted Items folder Default unlimited. Using an Exchange rule or Outlook setting, it is possible to configure automatic cleaning for this folder (Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting).
2 Recoverable Deletions folder This retention is configured per Exchange mailbox database, the default value is 14 days. For an on-premises Exchange server, there is no maximum. For recovery, a good starting value is 30 or 60 days. With this retention, the database grows by only a few percent.
3 Recoverable Purges folder By default, the Single Item Recovery feature is disabled for an on-premises Exchange server. For quick recovery, best practices is enabling this feature. Retention for this folder is the same as for the Recoverable Deletion folder.
4 Recoverable Versions folder By default, the Single Item Recovery feature is disabled for an on-premises Exchange server. For quick recovery, best practices is enabling this feature. Retention for this folder the same as for the Recoverable Deletion folder.
5 Recovery Database In case the restore of an item or mailbox is required outside the configured retention, an Exchange database in the Backup Manager retention can be mounted as an Exchange Recovery Database. The Exchange database can be mounted directly, without restore, using the Virtual Drive tool and for speed the LocalSpeedVault feature.

Conclusion

With the Exchange deleted items retention set to at least 30 days and the Single Item Recovery feature enabled, restore of Exchange items can be processed in most cases without the Recovery database. Database recovery is only required in case of database or server corruption, or other disaster.