Question: What is the difference between disabling and removing an Exchange 2010 mailbox using the Exchange Management Console?
In the Exchange Management Console when a mailbox is selected the actions pane shows two tasks; Disable and Remove.
These two tasks do the following:
- Disable will remove the Exchange attributes for the user account but leave the user account in Active Directory. The mailbox is then also left in the Exchange mailbox database until the retention period has lapsed, then it is removed permanently.
- Remove will remove both the Exchange mailbox and the user account from Active Directory
Unfortunately some admins wrongly assume that Disable is for temporarily disabling mailboxes, and that Remove will only remove the mailbox and not the user account.
If you're having trouble remember the correct usage of these tasks think about it in terms of the Exchange Management Shell commands and how they pair up.
- Enable-Mailbox is for creating a mailbox for an existing user, and Disable-Mailbox removes only the Exchange attributes from the user account
- New-Mailbox is for creating a new AD user and mailbox at the same time, and Remove-Mailbox removes both the mailbox and the user object.
But if thats too hard just to try to remember that Disable is the safest option, because you can quickly reconnect the mailbox to the user again if it is still within the retention period.