Over the past few years, Exchange has become a much more stable
and capable mail system–a far cry from the days of Exchange 5.5 and earlier. However,
until recently, if you mentioned to any Exchange administrator the phrase “message/mailbox
recovery,” the result would be a cringe, and the opening of a desk drawer
for the administrator to reach whatever concoction gets him through the day. With the
introduction of the Recovery Storage Group, Exchange 2003 has taken a
significant amount of pain out of Exchange’s recovery processes.

With older versions of Exchange, recovery efforts were often
reliant on the building of a parallel Exchange infrastructure complete with a
separate Active Directory forest. It’s easy to type “build a separate AD
forest and install Exchange inside it,” but the actual implementation of
these instructions can take a whole lot of time.

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Exchange 2003’s Recovery Storage Groups perform the same
function, but without all the hassle. To add a Recovery Storage Group to an
Exchange 2003 server:

  • Start
    the Exchange System Manager and browse to Administrative Groups > First
    Administrative Group > Servers.
  • Right-click
    your Exchange server and select New > Recovery Storage Group.
  • Accept
    the default name and file locations.
  • Right-click
    the Recovery Storage Group and choose Add Database to Recover.
  • Choose
    the Exchange 2003 (or Exchange 2000 SP3+) database to add to the Recovery
    Storage Group and click OK. A properties page for the mailbox store will
  • Add
    the database with the problem mailbox. You will also have to specify a
    volume for the database. Make sure the volume you choose has enough space
    for the entire database you need to recover.
  • In the
    properties for the information store in the Recovery Storage Group, on the
    Database tab, check the box next to “This database can be overwritten by a

From here, you can restore the contents of your information
store to the copy of the store inside the Recovery Storage Group without
needing to build a mirror Exchange and Active Directory infrastructure. Later,
using ExMerge, you can restore the necessary
information from the Recovery Storage Group to your production information

Note that you can create a Recovery Storage Group even on an
Exchange server on which you already have the maximum number of information