Moving Archive To A Different Database in Exchange 2010 SP1…

One of the features in Exchange 2010 which received a huge feedback is the archive mailbox. This is one of the most debated topic in my blog as well, check my previous article.

Microsoft has listened to the customer feedback and has made improvements to this feature. The main outcry was the absence of an option to store the archive mailbox on a different database to the primary one. Guess what? It is possible now, in SP1. And the good thing is that an administrator can perform the necessary actions using the console itself.

Let me explain the improvements based on my lab environment. First of all, let us enable an archive mailbox for the user ChakkaRajith. Right click the mailbox and select “Enable Archive”. We get a window asking us whether we want to have a local archive or a remote one (Microsoft Online Service).

Enable Archive Window in sp1

We can either select the database on which the archive mailbox should be stored or ask the system to randomly pick a database.

Select DB for archive mailbox in sp1

I selected a database using the “Browse” button and clicked OK. That’s it, archive mailbox has been created for the user. Note the change in icon for a mailbox which has archive enabled.

Icon change for archive mailbox in sp1

Now, let’s play with the archive mailbox settings. First thing anyone wants to try is to move the primary & archive mailbox to different databases and see the different options we have. Let’s do that. Right click the mailbox and select “New Local Move Request”.

New Local Move Request in sp1

You can see the databases on which your primary & archive mailbox resides, move primary mailbox, move archive mailbox or move both.

New Local Move Request options in 2010 sp1

I selected to move the user mailbox and I was asked to confirm the mailbox move settings, whether to skip the mailbox or corrupted messages if corrupted items are found. A new option exposed in the console is to suspend the mailbox move when it is ready to complete.

New Local Move Request options 2in 2010 sp1

Following the wizard, I clicked on “New” and “Finish” to complete the mailbox move. The icon changes to notify that a mailbox move was completed.

Icon Change after mailbox move in 2010 sp1

You won’t be able to move the mailbox again to a different database until the move request is cleared. You won’t have the move request options when you right click the mailbox! To fix it, navigate to “Recipient Configuration -> Move Request”, right click the mailbox and select “Clear Move Request”.

Clear Move Request in 2010 sp1

Finally, the general tab of the user properties shows the databases on which the primary and archive mailboxes are stored.

Archive Mailbox in 2010 sp1

A question I got through emails was whether it is possible to have the user mailbox on one server and archive on a different server. The answer is yes, it is possible. I think it will be a feature half done without that. Let me explain by moving my account’s archive to a different server. In my lab, I have two mailbox servers EXCH2 and EXCH10. Databases DB1 – DB4 are on EXCH10 and DB5 – DB7 on EXCH2.

Both my user mailbox (Rajith Enchiparambil)and archive is on DB1.

Move archive mailbox to another server in 2010 sp1

I am moving the archive to DB5 which is on the second server EXCH2. When I click the “Browse” button for selecting the target database, I get all my databases listed (from both servers).

Two servers snapshot

I selected DB5 and completed the wizard without any issues. Checking my account’s properties confirms my actions.

User Properties in 2010 sp1

Indeed a welcome feature!

  1. When you created your second (archive) server, did you just run the exchange install again and select only the Mailbox role (the management tools get selected by default)?
    Are there any licencing implications? finally if you were to uninstall the second (archive) server, does this cause any issues with the original exchange server?

    • That is all you need Ian.

      Deleting the server doesn’t cause any issues. You need to pay for the Exchange license, that is the legal side. But, if you are using a trial version, it should cover you for 4-6 months.

  2. Nicely explained… Can you tell me what is this option “suspend the mailbox move when it is ready to complete” for ???

    • Hi Prince,

      It is for admins who want to move the mailbox to a point where he/she wants to manually complete it, so that he can “see it” or be sure that it has happened :)


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