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Microsoft Changing Mailbox Restore Method for Exchange Online

Microsoft added another recovery method that IT pros can try when they need to restore accidentally deleted Exchange Online mailboxes.

It can be done using a newly added "New-MailboxRestoreRequest" PowerShell cmdlet, which Microsoft announced this week. It's sort of a last-ditch approach when traditional restore operations via the Office 365 Admin Portal or premises-based Active Directory don't work.

Typically, a deleted Exchange Online mailbox can still be recovered within 30 days. Microsoft describes the traditional way to restore such a deleted mailbox in this Knowledge Base article. However, this so-called "soft recovery" action sometimes doesn't work due to corrupt accounts. A soft recovery operation also does not work if the account was permanently deleted. In such cases, IT pros can try using the New-MailboxRestoreRequest PowerShell cmdlet.

Essentially, the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet assigns the globally unique identifier (GUID) that was associated with the deleted mailbox to a new target mailbox as a way of restoring the mailbox. Microsoft's announcement describes the PowerShell syntax that's needed to carry out such an operation.

The new cmdlet doesn't work with deleted Exchange Online mailboxes that are still "active" -- that is, the user is "still licensed and using her mail," the announcement explained. Also, if the mailbox was "hard deleted," this approach won't work. An example of a hard delete, according to Microsoft's announcement, is manually removing an Office 365 account and then deleting the user from the Recycle Bin, which is described as a "potentially damaging scenario."

Microsoft also gave notice this week that it plans to disable two existing PowerShell methods of recovering Exchange Online mailboxes. The new cmdlet will be replacing the current "Get-RemovedMailbox" and "New-Mailbox –RemovedMailbox" methods. It's not clear from the announcement, though, when those two cmdlets will disappear.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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