I will say that this was a really really tough job to do- going into it I had never even touched an Exchange database or transaction log except to break them. The issue was that last month I performed a full server format and install. The backups were not working, and the office needed services. so I formatted C: and reinstalled SBS2008. I set up the domain exactly the same- same DNS, IP configurations, even the same software and hardware.
As you might guess, a format and reinstall- even if it is EXACTLY the same- does not restore users mailboxes. So I went about trying to extract the mail items directly from the mailbox database files. This didn’t work, as EXmerge is discontinued. In order to use it to extract .PST files you need to install 32bit Exchange Tools, which I did not have the time nor patience for. If you need to find Exmerge it can be downloaded from Microsoft here, and documentation on the process can be found in KB259688.
I then set about recovering users email. I had just restored the server at this point, to what I though were exactly the same settings as before. Working with Exchange database’s can be nerve-racking if you don’t know what you are doing- they are huge, usually premissioned away from normal access, located in one of several places on a server. I though I would just try to stick the database back in and turn on Exchange to see if it worked. So I navigated to D:/Program Files/Microsoft/Exchange Server/Mailbox/. I then dismounted the Exchange databases from inside of EMC, and stopped Exchange services including Information Store and Transport. I renamed the First Information Store folder to First Information StoreOLD, and created a new folder. I then copied all of the Exchange files that I extracted from the backup, using legacy NTBackup. I had a script on the old server that ran a NTBackup of Exchange.
(This is a good practice by the way, which allows me to mess with Exchange backups without restoring other things on the server. NTBackup can be found here, and some tips on using it are here. Mind you the tutorial is for SBS 2003, but the general gist is applied to the newer version.)
So, after all of the files copied over, I restarted Exchange. I ran the BPA, and got some major errors about not being able to mount the stores. I then tried to run the database recovery tools on them, still getting the you-broke-exchange errors.
Uh-oh. What the heck am I doing? So I reversed all of that, and put it on a back burner for a bit. I calmly explained to users that they lost years worth of email and had to deal with it- oh boy. But wait… There is another solution, at least temporarily. Since the domain is the same, but the workstations had not yet been rejoined to the domain, old logon credentials might exist. I sat down with a user to log in, and got a security error. Darn. So I unplugged the workstation from the network, and we then logged on using old cached credentials.
We open up Microsoft Office Outlook. Hit File, Export (or appropriate), and exported Inbox, Sent Items, Contacts, and Calendars to .PST files. We saved them on the root of C: drive, anywhere in the current profile would be lost once we left the domain. At this point we plug the workstation in and then I join it to the domain using Computer>Properties>Network ID. The domain solace.local is already there, and that is the same domain name as well. So I delete the .local, and rejoin the solace domain. Reboot, have the user log in/create a new profile/change password/etc. Open up Outlook, and reverse the export process, importing the .PST files. All of their items were then added to their NEW Exchange mailbox.
The only problem came up when I got to the 20 users who did not have Outlook, and who worked remotely using OWA. How can you export .PST files from OWA? Well, you can’t. So these users I had to explain to them how badly I sucked, and that it wasn’t my fault, and that this sort of thing happens, and that no- we had not planned a disaster recovery plan. Pretty much anything so I could go hom and go to sleep.
I put this on the back burner for a week, asking users to contact people about resending them mail, or whatever they had to do to get by. I then set to researching Exchange Recovery Storage Groups. Great tutorials here and here.
I then realized that I had not applied SP2 to Exchange 2007, which had been applied before the re-install. Sweet- so I downloaded and ran the Exchange SP2 Install Tool from MS. Ran Exchange SP2, which succeeded. Restarted the server, made sure all my services were up and running- Transport was not, so I started that. As far as I could tell, everything was peachy. Gonna continue this in a new post..