Thursday, February 8, 2018

Recover Office 365 Exchange Mailbox: Deleted Item Restore

Consider the scenario: 

"I am the global administrator of the company. To free up the storage space, we had deleted some of the emails. By mistake, around 1000 important mailboxes were also lost. It was deleted more than 30 years ago. We need to recover Office 365 Exchange mailbox. Is there a way to do that? I am in an urgent need to find the solution. Any help or suggestion would be greatly appreciated.”

Issues Regarding Deleted Items in Office 365

The users are stuck in several difficult situations when the backup of the Exchange server is not created and the data is lost. Resolve any issue regarding the Exchange Server outage is not an easy task to achieve. Sometimes, it happens that there are backups but, the most recent one is more than 30 days prior. In this case, the data can be recovered using the command ESEUTIL. But still, data of several days is lost till the time the mailboxes were recovered. It can be very harmful to any organization to lose even a bit of relevant information. 

Thus to recover Office 365 Exchange mailbox, it is recommended to create a regular backup of the data even when users are using Database Availability Group (DAG). Also, a professional tool is introduced i.e SysTools Exchange Recovery which helps to recover corrupted Exchange database in a very short span of time.

Solutions to Recover Office 365 Exchange Mailbox

There are multiple ways of protecting the database on the Exchange server. The data should be protected in such a safe manner that it is easily accessible by the users. One such option to preserve your data using DAG. DAG is a technology spread out between two data centers. These two data centers are connected with the fiber backbones. In case, the copy of the mailbox database fails, there is an automatic process to regenerate or repair the failed copy of the database. Other than DAG, there are other features too which helps to restore Office 365 Exchange mailbox.

Solution 1: Deleted Item Recovery

Similar to the on-premise deployments, admins can still control the retention period of the deleted items in the Exchange Online. This feature helps to know how old data can be recovered if any mishappening occurs in Microsoft Outlook client or OWA (Outlook Web App). This retention period is set by default and can be changed by the administrator. This option is of great use when the messages that are permanently deleted became important again. To restore any message: 
  1. Open Microsoft Outlook 
  2. Navigate to Recover Deleted items 
  3. Select the required message and then, choose Recover 
For the Office 365 users, this feature is already present there. By default, the retention period in the Exchange Online is 14 days. However, the maximum permissible days till when the deleted data is present in the server is 30 days. 

To ensure that the users have a recovery of the correct amount of deleted items, go through the following set of instructions: 

1. Connect to the Office 365 through the PowerShell 
2. Use the following command to verify the organizational settings: 
“Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq 'UserMailbox')} | FL Name, RetainDeletedItemsFor” 
3. The maximum days till when the data is kept on the Exchange Server is 30 days. You can change it according to your need. 
“Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq 'UserMailbox')} | Set-Mailbox -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30” 
4. Again execute the second command to check whether the retention period has been changed to 30 days or not.

Solution 2: Mailbox Litigation Hold

This is the another method to Recover Office 365 deleted mailbox. It may happen sometimes that the message which is required is deleted 30 days ago. And now, that message is not present in the Exchange Online. In that case, mailbox litigation hold approach is used. 

Also, the mailbox data is stored in the hidden folder named as Recoverable Items. A set of the subfolders is also there which contains removed and deleted items when the folder is put on legal hold. So, if the user deletes any mailbox, it will be present until the retention period of the litigation hold is over. 

Note: The mailbox in the litigation hold does not occupy any space in the users’ mailbox. In fact, the folder of recoverable items has its own storage space of 100 GB. In case, this space gets occupied, the users will unable to vacant the deleted items and folder and the Exchange Online support has to be contacted. 

But, there are several essential considerations which will help an admin to decide whether this method is suitable to recover Office 365 Exchange mailbox or not. One of them is that only the administrator who is assigned proper permissions can put any mailbox on the litigation hold. At least, the admin should be a member of the “Discovery management”, or included in “Legal Hold and Mailbox Search”.

Types of Litigation Hold to Restore Office 365 Exchange Mailbox

The different types of the litigation hold are:
  • Indefinite hold 
If any email is on indefinite hold, it will never be deleted. This is because the end date is not configured. This is suggested to be done for the mailboxes that are on hold due to legal investigations.
  • Query-Based Hold 
This type of hold is necessary when the information is to be kept on hold depending upon different criteria such as dates, sender, receiver, keywords.
  • Time-Based Hold 
This option is of great use for the legal investigation cases where a fixed amount of time is granted for the pending trial.

Technique to Establish Litigation Hold for Office 365

Before you start setting the litigation hold to recover Office 365 Exchange mailbox, decide whether you have to set the duration of the hold or not. In case, the duration is to be set, you have to add the following line at the end of all the commands: 

“LitigationHoldDuration #of days” 

Also, make sure that the system is connected to the Exchange Online through the PowerShell. 
  • To set up the litigation hold when the amount of time is not added is: 
“Set-Mailbox -LitigationHoldEnabled $true” 
  • To set up the litigation for an entire organization, use the following command: 
“Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited -Filter {RecipientTypeDetails -eq "UserMailbox"} | Set-Mailbox -LitigationHoldEnabled $true”

Alternative Solution: Use Third-Party Tool

The temporary or permanently deleted mailbox can be recovered from the Exchange Online with the help of the third-party tool. This can be done with the help of Exchange Recovery tool. This is the professional solution to recover Office 365 Exchange mailbox. The user interface of the utility is so easy that even a novice user can use it without any issue.

Time to Wrap Up

It is advised to keep the backup of the Exchange Online database in order to avoid any type of data loss. But, if the backup is not up to date, that does not mean that the data is lost permanently. DAG technologies along with legal hold and deleted item recovery proves to be the really effective solution to recover Office 365 Exchange mailboxes.


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