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How to Reconnect a Disconnected Mailbox in Exchange Server 2010

When an Exchange 2010 mailbox has been disabled it becomes a disconnected mailbox.  Disconnected mailboxes sit in the mailbox database until the configured retention period has lapsed, and then they are purged.

You can see the retention period for a mailbox database by opening it’s properties and looking on the Limits tab.

Exchange 2010 mailbox database retention settings

In the example above a disconnected mailbox will remain in the database for 30 days before it is purged.

Sometimes within the retention period we want to recover the mailbox, for example if it was accidentally disabled or if the staff member returns to the company.

How to List all Disconnected Exchange 2010 Mailboxes

The Exchange Management Shell lets us find the disconnected mailboxes in the organization.

Notice there are two disconnect reasons shown above.

  • Disabled – means the mailbox was disabled
  • SoftDeleted – means the mailbox was either removed or moved between databases

Here is an explanation of the difference between removing and disabling a mailbox in Exchange 2010 if you aren’t already familiar with it.

Disconnected mailboxes can be reconnected to an Active Directory user account. If no account exists for the person you want to reconnect a mailbox to then you would first create the account in Active Directory. Then you can reconnect the mailbox.

How to Connect an Exchange 2010 Mailbox to a User Account

To reconnect Alan Reid’s mailbox to his existing Active Directory account we would run this command.

However, if the user already has a new mailbox they are using and you wish to restore the disconnected mailbox into that new mailbox then you would use the next method shown here.

How to Restore a Deleted Mailbox to a User’s Mailbox

A soft deleted mailbox needs a different method used. To restore the deleted Aisha Bhari mailbox to the current mailbox for that user we would run this command.

The request goes into a queue for processing. You can monitor the progress of the request with this command.

If you’re trying to reconnect a disconnected archive mailbox you may receive an error for the legacy DN not matching. Check out Chris Brown’s post here for the solution.

Paul is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul is a co-author of Office 365 for IT Pros and several other books, and is also a Pluralsight author.
Category: Exchange Server


  1. Jason says:

    I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but you, Sir, are a genious!!! This article and countless others on your site have made working with Exchange 2010 a breeze!! Thank you for all that you do on this site!

  2. DC says:

    Wonder if you can help quickly. I’m trying to restore the contents of a recovered mailbox to a user whose account had to be re-created (someone deleted the account from AD….). When I use your Restore a Deleted Mailbox to a User’s Mailbox instructions, I get an error that says the user “has no archive.” What does that mean and how do I fix that? Thanks!

  3. SanMan says:

    And to purge the disconnected mailbox use:

    Remove-StoreMailbox -database AtoF -Identity “Doe, John” -MailboxState SoftDeleted
    and replace the identity with the displayname of the user. This has to be displayname, cant be login name or alias.

  4. Redberry says:

    You mentioned in article that
    ■SoftDeleted – means the mailbox was either removed or moved between databases
    Is this only apply to Exchange 2010 sp1?

    When we Remove a mailbox (using EMC or Remove-mailbox), it is actually marked as “Disabled” instead of SoftDeleted? We running Exchange 2010 SP2.

  5. Redberry says:

    In Exchange 2010 SP2 – can New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet use to restore a disconnected to a new/existing AD account ?? or this cmdlet is simply for restoring onto an existing mailbox?

  6. Lula says:

    Thank you for your post, it helps me. But If we are restoring mailbox in another mailbox we must use -AllowLegacyDNMismatch key. Than you one more time.

  7. Jan Vinterberg says:

    For some reason even though the limits in the mailbox properties on my server is identical with the one in this article, i can not find disabled mailboxes anywhere when using the cmd:
    disable-mailbox -identity “UserName”
    Same goes if i disable the account from EMC.

    Any ideas on why this is the case ?

    Jan V.

  8. Fernandes says:

    I have been restore deleted mailbox, I used the following command

    Get-MailboxStatistics -Database DB.01 | Where { $_.DisconnectReason -eq “Disabled” }| Format-List LegacyDN, DisplayName, MailboxGUID, DisconnectReason

    DisplayName : meu.usuario
    MailboxGuid : c60fff7b-fa6f-47d6-b44c-264936dad2ba
    DisconnectReason : Disabled

    I created the user deleted with same information and I perform command
    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceDatabase DB.01 -SourceStoreMailbox c928294c-4665-4cc4-ba5e-38f67474fab2 -TargetMailbox meu.usuario@dominio.com -AllowLegacyDNMismatch

    But status stay “Queued” all the time
    Could you help me?

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceDatabase ieclb.org.br.01 -SourceStoreMailbox c928294c-4665-4cc4-ba5e-38f67474fab2 -TargetMailbox @ieclb.org.br -AllowLegacyDNMismatch

  9. Mike says:

    after restoring a mailbox, how long until it becomes usable again? i don’t think it is syncronizing with my active directory quickly, is there a way to force it? thank you.

  10. Andro says:

    A restored mailbox should be available after an AD sync.
    You could force AD sync by logging on the Global Catalog AD and running C:\>repadmin /syncall

    note: Might need Administrator privileges for the above.

  11. Patrick Witt says:

    using exchange 2010, im trying properly restore a disconnected mailbox. in one of the attempts i tried, i connected it to a local administrator user (i know dumb idea) and at this point i can log into webmail fine but forwarding email doest not work.. Error “a problem occurred while you were trying to use your mailbox.”

    and if i check the calendar settings (which i dont need) i get the error “cannot open mailbox, microsoft sys attendant. it was running the command get calendar processing”….

    any help would be appreciated

  12. Lars Panzerbjørn says:

    Excellent article.
    If you have trouble making a MAPI connection to the mailbox afterwards, it might work if you clean the database.
    I like: Get-MailboxServer | Get-MailboxDatabase | Clean-MailboxDatabase

  13. Brian M says:

    Hello… I have two disconnected mailboxes named the same thing. How can I execute the Connect-Mailbox command using the MailboxGuid instead of the -Identity?

    • trank0 says:

      You can use de MailboxGuid as an Identity, MailboxGuid is an Identity, just put it instead the name of the mailbox or the email, and it will work.

  14. Boaz says:

    Hi Poul, thank you for this great article.
    I am wondering, is it possible to attache a disconnected mailbox to a different (new) user?

  15. Zural says:

    Reading the comments i simply cant get my answers. For my case , I accidently deleted a user mailbox and just couldn’t restore it cause i cant seem to find the existing user profile on matching accounts . Going back and checking existing mailboxes the user is listed but couldn’t when using the wizard to restore.

    Please help!

  16. swaminand says:

    i m not at all satisfied with the connect service .it does not work well.i could not access it the time it,s been given the plan due to technical issues.moreover i m getting shifted to amritsar this month .

  17. Vikas Bhadauria says:

    Hi Paul,

    Vikas here ,my query is mentioned below,please your guide lines is needed.

    1- How we can see recently disabled mailbox user in exchange server 2013 as clean-mailboxdatabase cmd removed.
    2-What is the maximum limit for deleted items on database level and what is the maximum limit for deleted mailbox retention we can set, as when checked in ecp its showing we can put a value from 0-24855 days.

    Your guidelines and support is highly appreciated.


  18. Brian says:

    Hi Paul,

    I’m trying to connect a disconnected mailbox to a new user, but I’m not able to open it in MS outlook. On Outlook it’s showing this error:

    “Cannot open default e-mail folders. You must connect to Microsoft Exchange with the current profile before you can synchronise your folders with your Outlook data file (.ost).”

    The objective I’m trying to achieve here is trying to connect User A disconnected mailbox to new User B.

    – User A email address, before disconnection is as follows: UserA.abc@xyz.com
    – Does UserB have to use back the same email address, or it can take on UserB.abc@xyz.com, but connect User A mailbox to UserB and using UserB email address ?

    Are there any AD attribute modification that needs to be done for this to work ?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, I have been working on this for days, without any success.

    Thank you very much.


      • Brian says:

        Hi Paul,

        Thanks for the reply.

        This was done in EMC. I had tried accessing via OWA. It’s prompting for user ID and password again, even after I have login to OWA using UserB ID and password, so I’m assuming exchange is referring to User A ID and password and OWA return a blank page with no error or whatsoever.

        Does having UserA as a Mail User in exchange affect anything? Even with User A mailbox being disconnected ?



        • Why is UserA a mail user?

          Aside from that, the way I demonstrate it in the article above should work fine. If you’re deviating from that guidance and running into problems, then my recommendation is you try it the way I’ve demonstrated it.

  19. Mat says:

    I restored a mailbox and connected to already existing account. But when i login to it it shows account disabled. any guess ?

  20. Ahsan says:

    Hi Paul,
    Excellent site and always to the point and easy to understand. Works all the time.

    I have couple of questions.

    1: there are a lot of articles relating to Exchange 2010 but the is no category in your site for it like you have for other versions of exchange and powershell etc. Am I missing something here? It would be good to see all article for exchange 2010.

    2: can you write up some articles on exchange server design that are more real world. Like if organizations use different internal domain names like ABC. Local and different external domain name like ABC. Com..
    And what firewall rules to be created for outside communication to our exchange servers.

    A million thanks

  21. chirs says:

    Is there a way to do this without enabling the default email address policy? I’m trying to create linked mailboxes in a two forest migration scenario, but every time I do all of the proxy information from the source gets wiped out by the Default email address policy after connect-mailbox command. This includes the removal of some x500s that were added to ensure mailflow when we removed the contact objects which were pointing back at the source forest prior to the cross forest mailbox move.


  22. JuanZQ says:

    Great article! I have a little question:

    Is it possible to reconnect a disabled mailbox from a recovery database?
    This is my scenario:
    Day 1=Mailbox1 created on Database1
    Day 25=Mailbox1 disabled on Database1
    Day 31=Database1 backed up (Mailbox1 is in disconnected state for 30 days default retention)

    Now, 45 days after backup, I need to restore Database1 from backup to recover disconnected Mailbox1.
    Is this possible?

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