Recovering Deleted Items in Exchange Server 2003 (Part 2)

by [Published on 29 Jan. 2009 / Last Updated on 29 Jan. 2009]

How to configure the deleted items retention period on Public Folders and how to recover deleted items from Public Folders using Outlook client.

If you missed the first part in this article series please go to Recovering Deleted Items in Exchange Server 2003 (Part 1).

Introduction

It has been a while since I released the first article of this series here at MSExchange.org. In the first article we looked at how to recover deleted items using Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Outlook 2003 client. Since then, Exchange Server 2007 and Outlook 2007 were released and they have been out there for a while.

In this article we are going to look at the changes in the Recover Deleted Items in Exchange Server 2007 and Outlook 2007. We will then go into the Recover Deleted Items feature to recover items deleted in Public Folders.

Changes in Outlook 2007…

In the first article we saw how to add the DumpsterAlwaysOn registry key in a workstation with Outlook client installed. This procedure will enable the item “Recover Deleted Items...” under Tools menu, right?

If you have Outlook 2007 installed you do not need to configure anything. By default, Outlook 2007 has the Recover Deleted Item option under Tools menu. If you are going to upgrade your clients to the newer version you do not need to worry about that registry key anymore. If you are distributing the registry key through a script or something similar, you can stop and save some time during your logon script. If you apply that registry on Outlook 2007, it will not affect anything on the client because Outlook 2007 has that key set already.

Configuring Deleted Items on Exchange Server 2007

Exchange Server 2007 is quite different from Exchange Server 2003, however, the Deleted Items configuration on the server side has not changed significantly. The biggest difference between the two is that we can also change it using command line (Exchange Management Shell), which we could not do in the previous version.

In order to change the deleted items limit for Exchange Server 2007, we can perform either of these steps:

To change using Exchange Management Console, open it, expand Server Configuration, expand Mailbox, click on the mailbox server on the right side, right-click on the database that is located in the Work Panel and click Properties. Then, click on Limits tab and there it goes, the configuration is there like we had on Exchange Server 2003.

Note:
In Exchange Server 2007 all mailbox database are configured to keep deleted items for 14 days.

If you like command-line, you can use Exchange Management Shell to get the work done. To do so, just open Exchange Management Shell and type in Get-MailboxDatabase to list all databases of the current server. Then, you can run Get-MailboxDatabase <Database Name> | fl to get all attributes of a specific database. In our article we just want to get the number of days that a deleted item is kept in our database. To accomplish such a task we can run the following cmdlet:

Get-MailboxDatabase | Select Name, DeletedItemRetention

The cmdlet above will be enough to list all databases and list their names and deleted item retention information. In order to change the value of DeletedItemRetention attribute, we can use this cmdlet:

Set-MailboxDatabase <Database Name> -DeletedItemRetention  30.0:0:0

Note:
In our cmdlet above we are changing the number of days to 30. The value can be expressed in the following format: Days.Hours:Minutes:Seconds

Configuring Exchange Server 2003/2007 Public Folders deleted items retention

Okay, now that we are on the same page regarding the Recover Deleted items retention in both versions of Exchange Server, we are going to validate the configuration on the Public Folder. The Public Folder can be configured to keep deleted items in two different places: at Public Folder store level or Folder level. By default, the folder level retention configuration follows the Public Folder database settings, however, if you define a value at folder level it will take precedence and the value defined at folder level will be used.

Let us start changing the Public Folder level in both Exchange Server versions, as follows:

Using Exchange Server 2003, we can open Exchange System Manager, expand Administrative Groups, Expand <Administrative Group Name>, expand <Server name>, expand <Storage Group Name>,  right click on the Public Folder store and click Properties, then click on Limits tab. We are able to define how many days a deleted item will be kept in the dumpster of the Public Folder database and if we are going to wait for a backup before deleting any item permanently, as shown in Figure 01.


Figure 01

Using Exchange Server 2007, we just need to open Exchange Management Console, expand Server Configuration, and click on Mailbox item, click on Mailbox Server on the right side and then right-click on the Public Folder store and click Properties. Then, click on Limits tab and you can define the same value we saw previously on Exchange Server 2003.

To avoid a single recover deleted item configuration in a Public Folder store, an administrator can define different limits at folder level and it takes precedence on the Public Folder store level. Here we can see that we have some differences between the versions. Using Exchange Server 2003, we just need to open the Public Folder hierarchy and right click on a folder which would show the limits tab which would allow us to configure the retention limits.

On the other hand, using Exchange Server 2007 we did not have a similar tool until the release of Service Pack 1of the product. So if you have the RTM version, the only way to do so is by using Exchange Management Shell. If you have SP1 installed then you have a tool called Public Folder Management Console which allows Public Folder management through GUI.

In order to change the recover deleted item retention limit at folder level on Exchange Server 2007 SP1, you can open the Exchange Management Console, click on the Tools item on the left, and then click on Public Folder Management Console on the right. Expand Default Public Folders, and click on a folder and a Properties item will be displayed in the Toolbox Actions. Clicking on it will reveal the Limits tab, the default configuration is set to Use database retention values. In order to change this, uncheck this option and define the new number of retention days.

Recovering Deleted Items in a Public Folder scenario

When we delete an item from a Public Folder it is always a hard deletion process which means it does not go to any Deleted Folder. In order to recover a deleted item from a Public Folder we just need to select the folder where the message was deleted and click on Tools and then Recover Deleted Items, as shown in figure 02.


Figure 02

This procedure can be also used to recover sub folders deleted in a Public Folder. When you recover a folder, the folder name will receive a prefix (Recovered) and all the messages existent at the deletion time will be recovered as well.

Sometimes, we just need to visualize the dumpster content and sometimes you do not have Outlook handy, so here are two possible options to visualize the Public Folder dumpster content:

The first one is by using the Exchange MAPI Editor and a second option is using PFDAVAdmin, where there is a radio button that allows an administrator to list the content of the dumpster, as shown in Figure 03.


Figure 03

Conclusion

In this article we saw what has changed since the my last article related to Recover Deleted Item features in Outlook 2007/Exchange Server 2007. We have also seen how to configure and use the same feature with Public Folders.

If you missed the first part in this article series please go to Recovering Deleted Items in Exchange Server 2003 (Part 1).

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