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.

[PS] C:\>Get-MailboxDatabase | Get-MailboxStatistics | where {$_.DisconnectReason -ne $null} | ft displayname,database,disconnectreason -auto

DisplayName Database DisconnectReason
----------- -------- ----------------
Alan Reid   MB-HO-01         Disabled
TestMB BR   MB-BR-01      SoftDeleted
Aisha Bhari MB-BR-01      SoftDeleted

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.

[PS] C:\>Connect-Mailbox -Identity "Alan Reid" -Database MB-HO-01 -User Alan.Reid

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.

[PS] C:\>New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceDatabase MB-BR-01 -SourceStoreMailbox "Aisha Bhari" -TargetMailbox "Aisha Bhari"

Name                                           TargetMailbox                                  Status
----                                           -------------                                  ------
MailboxRestore                        ... Queued

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

[PS] C:\>Get-MailboxRestoreRequest

Name                                           TargetMailbox                                  Status
----                                           -------------                                  ------
MailboxRestore                        ... Completed

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.

About Paul Cunningham

Paul is a Microsoft Exchange Server MVP and publisher of Exchange Server Pro. He also holds several Microsoft certifications including for Exchange Server 2007, 2010 and 2013. Find Paul on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+, or get in touch for consulting/support engagements.


  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. Thanks. Today I read your article and successfully connected a user disabled.

  9. 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 -AllowLegacyDNMismatch

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

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceDatabase -SourceStoreMailbox c928294c-4665-4cc4-ba5e-38f67474fab2 -TargetMailbox -AllowLegacyDNMismatch

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. sachin ps says:

    Thanks paul for your wonderful support

  14. 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

  15. 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?

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