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There's a special feeling that most IT pros have a story about. It's a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as realization dawns—the backup is gone, the server has crashed, the database is corrupt, or all the files are encrypted. That feeling is the realization that something really bad has happened and that people who rely on you and the systems you're responsible for will be looking to you to fix it.
Most IT pros also have a story of how they pulled a Hail Mary at the last moment and saved the day. If you are responsible for an Exchange Server deployment, this article might just help you to be in the second camp rather than the first, as we look at Stellar Repair for Exchange and how it can help you be a superhero.
Getting Started ^
You can download a trial version of Exchange Database Recovery Software that'll scan your database and recover data in few easy clicks. Stellar Repair for Exchange does not need to run on the Exchange Server itself; in fact, I ran it on my Windows 10 PC. Exchange Server 2003 to 2019 are supported. Installation is quick and easy, and is followed by the program asking for an EDB file to scan. You can either browse to it or use the Find option, which scans a folder you define for EDB files. Note that you can open up to four EDB files simultaneously.
There are two scan modes, Quick and Extensive. Start with the former. If it does not resolve the issue, move on to the latter. For my 500 MB test database, the quick scan took 15 seconds and the extensive scan took 60 seconds (your mileage will vary depending on what's wrong with your database).
Once you've found the mailbox or content you need to recover, you can save the data in PST format. Other available formats include MSG and EML as well as HTML, RTF, and PDF. The last three won't save attachments, although file names are visible.
One attractive option is to export recovered mailboxes directly from the UI to another database on a running Exchange Server. This option lets you map mailboxes from the source to the destination database and optionally create new mailboxes if they don't exist.
If you're looking for particular messages (eDiscovery), you can search based on many characteristics of these messages and export the results as above. A handy feature is the option to preview mail, appointments, contacts, etc. directly in the UI to make sure you're recovering the right data.
Another very interesting feature is the ability to export recovered mailboxes directly to Office 365.
Deleted mailboxes that have not yet been purged from the database can be recovered just like normal mailboxes. If your Exchange Server is using Unicode EDB files, the program will work as usual, thus supporting Exchange Servers in any language. Recovered contacts from mailboxes can be exported to CSV format.
Because the scanning process can be time-consuming, you can save the results and load them later from disk if you have a protracted recovery process.
The Microsoft option ^
Microsoft offers tools in the form of ESEUTIL and Isinteg, along with PowerShell cmdlets in later versions of Exchange, to repair databases. I repaired my first database with these tools back in 2000 and it's a challenging task with unpredictable results. Indeed, Tony Redmond, the Exchange guru, has likened it to open heart surgery on the database—definitely something you don't want to get wrong.
Just as its creators intended, I found Stellar Repair for Exchange easy to use and it certainly can help save your bacon on that day when your server has crashed. Stellar also offers an Exchange toolkit, called the Stellar Toolkit for Exchange. It offers five tools, Repair along with four other tools for OST-to-PST conversion, export of mailboxes from Exchange 2007 and import into Exchange 2019, extraction of data from Exchange backup (BKF) files, and a Windows Server password recovery tool.