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.
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 appear.
- 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 restore."
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 store.
Note that you can create a Recovery Storage Group even on an Exchange server on which you already have the maximum number of information stores.