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I’m facing a puzzling problem. I’ve just been asked to give access to a former employee’s mailbox. I found the user in our AD and checked if he was sat as disabled but he wasn’t. I reset his password and tried to access his mailbox. But the POST program gave me an error and stated that the mailbox couldn’t be found.

I entered the Exchange Management Console but couldn’t found the user or mailbox for this particular employee. I’m almost sure that I didn’t disconnected or deleted his mailbox cause I’ve probed his mailbox on earlier occasions when needed to find specific mails. I looked in the disconnected mailbox view but I couldn’t find it there either.
After some googling around I tried to run the clean-mailboxdatabase command from the command line interface, but with no luck.

I seems like it just disappeared and is the only one (we have plenty of other former employee mailboxes). I later read that if I delete a mailbox in Exchange, it will automatically delete the user in the AD as well and seen that the user is still active in our AD I conclude that I haven’t deleted the mailbox.

Is there any way or anywhere to find the mailbox? Any answer, suggestions or advice is well received.

- Mestika

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It sounds like the mailbox was disabled. When a mailbox is disabled it is disconnected and marked for deletion, which will occur based on the mailbox retention setting (30 days by default). Disabling a mailbox will delete the mailbox but NOT the user account. Removing a mailbox will delete the mailbox AND the user account.

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The language of that has always been a pet peeve of mine. 'Disable' should be similar to what happens with the AD account and leave it indefinitely recoverable. – SmallClanger Jan 21 '11 at 16:11
Yeah, I'm not a fan either... – joeqwerty Jan 21 '11 at 16:18
Hi Joeqwery, thank you for your answer. I definitely concur with you - I had no idea that "Disabled" in Exchange meant "90 days and it will be deleted". I just disable the mail boxes until I'm going to need them. This is very disappointing but I guess the only way to fix it now is to retrieve a backup from a earlier point. But it is very good to know in the future. Thank you – Mestika Jan 22 '11 at 11:40
Glad to help... – joeqwerty Jan 22 '11 at 20:36

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