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Exchange 2000 introduced mailbox deletion
retention. If you configure deletion retention on an Exchange
server, Exchange doesn’t immediately remove a mailbox from the
information store, and you can therefore “undelete” it using
Exchange System Manager.

This is a great feature for sticky situations
such as when an overly zealous administrator deletes a mailbox from
the server, only to have a user request its contents a few days

To configure your server for mailbox deletion
retention, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Exchange System Manager, and
    navigate to the server you want to configure.
  2. Right-click Mailbox Store,
    and select Properties.
  3. On the Limits tab, the Keep Deleted Mailboxes
    For (Days) box specifies the number of days that deleted mailboxes
    remain on the server. If desired, change the number of days, and
    click OK to apply the change.

Keep in mind that the longer the retention
period, the longer it is before the used space is free, so you want
to keep it within reason. Most administrators find that 30 days of
retention works well for their organization’s needs.

To restore a mailbox that someone has deleted
within the retention period, follow these steps:

  1. Open the
    Exchange System Manager, and navigate to the server that
    stores the mailbox.
  2. Expand
    Mailbox Store, right-click Mailboxes, and select
    Run Cleanup Agent.
  3. Right-click
    the mailbox you wish to recover, and select Reconnect.
  4. Select the
    user account you want to associate with the mailbox, and click

While this method of restoring mailboxes isn’t
likely to keep you from ever needing to restore a database to
recover a mailbox, it definitely helps.