Do you really think, Exchange recovery is a tedious and costly job when your exchange machine is down and the machine is in no boot situation? This is a general perception, however in reality it’s not true.

Let’s assume, we have a Member Server hosting Exchange [Not in DAG / Cluster]. There are few Domain Controller for authentication and other policy stuff.

[Exchange Server Supportability Matrix]
Exchange 2007 SP3 can be installed on windows 2003 SP2, 2008 SP2, 2008 R2 SP1
Exchange 2010 SP2 can be installed on windows 2008 SP2, 2008 R2 SP1
Exchange 2010 SP3 can be installed on windows 2008 SP2, 2008 R2 SP1, 2012
Exchange 2013 SP1 and later can be installed on windows 2008 R2 SP1, 2012, 2012 R2
If you try to install beyond the supportability matrix you will receive an error.

All of a sudden we find that the Exchange server goes in no boot situation. You tried all possible method to fix and get the server on-line however it failed and the server is beyond repair.

Unexpected reboot/shutdown of Exchange server result in Dirty Shutdown of exchange database most of the time. And you may need to go for either a soft repair or a hard repair of exchange database which will fix the issue of Dirty Shutdown.
If Exchange Database is in Dirty Shutdown state, it will not get mounted.
Verifying exchange database, soft repair and hard repair of Exchange Database will be discussed in different post.

Disk of the Exchange Server are accessible but the Operating System is beyond repair stage. This is a situation where you need to go for Exchange Recover.

You may recover Operating System and Exchange from previous Backup and get the business moving or can go for reinstallation of Operating System and Running the Exchange Installer with an additional switch

Setup /m:RecoverServer

Things to know before you begin the Exchange Recovery.

  • You need to be assigned permissions before you can perform Exchange Recovery. [Better to start with Domain Administrator.]
  • The server on which recovery is being performed should have the same performance characteristics and hardware configuration as the lost server. [Preferred, add new Hard Disk and install Operating System on the New HDD]
  • The server on which recovery is being performed must be running the same operating system as the lost server. [For example, you can’t recover a server that was running Exchange 2010 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on a server running Windows Server 2012, or vice versa. Likewise, you can’t recover a server that was running Exchange 2010 and Windows Server 2012 on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2, or vice versa.
    You must be ready with the Same Exchange Version [with the same Service Pack] installer ready, what it was before or at the time of crash. [Ignore Update Roll-Up version at the moment and install it as per your convenience].
  •  The same disk drive letters on the failed server for mounted databases must exist on the server on which you’re running recovery.
  • You must use same Hostname as lost server’s Hostname on the new installation.
  • Without knowing the Exchange installed location, it will be impossible to recover the Exchange.
Method to know Exchange Installed Location:
Step 1: Go to Domain Controller be it SBS or Standalone DC.
Step 3: Navigate to the following location :
CN=ExServerName,CN=Servers,CN=First Administrative Group,CN=Administrative Groups,CN=ExOrg Name,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=DomainName,CN=Com
Step 4: Click on the Exchange Server Object and then click on Properties.
Step 5: Locate the msExchInstallPath and verify the current Exchange installation path. If the location path is changed, you will need to create the path manually.
Note: Default location of Exchange Installation (%program files%\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15)

Recovering a Lost Exchange Server

It’s best to use the Same Machine for Installing Operating System after taking the backup of Exchange Database and log file. However you may use different hardware in case of No Boot because of Hardware failure.

Step 1    Install the Same operating System and Service Pack as that of Lost Exchange Server before it goes down.

Step 2.   Change the Hostname to the same as of Lost Exchange Server if not change at the time of Installation. If already performed, don’t forget to verify, otherwise recovery will fail, if the HOSTNAME is not same.

Step 3.   Join the Server to the same domain as the lost Exchange Server. [ IP can be different.]

Step 4.   Install the necessary pre-requisite required by the Exchange Server.

Step 5.   Log on to the server with administrative rights and Open Command Prompt in elevated mode.

Step 6.   Navigate to the Exchange Installer location in the Command Prompt. And Run the below command

Setup /m:RecoverServer

Step 7.   Allow exchange installer to complete the installation. Once done, REBOOT the Server.

Step 8.   Verify the presence of exchange services in services.msc

Step 9.   Verify Exchange Database is in Clean Shutdown State if not then need to perform Soft recovery first or Hard Repair based on the availability of log files.

You can verify Exchange Database via eseutil [Drive:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\Bin]  via below mentioned command Eseutil /mh “Drive:\Path_Of_Exchange_Database_File.edb” And Check State under DATABASE HEADER.

Vinit Keny

Vinit Keny


Special Thanks goes to Vinit Keny for reviewing this content and his support in writing the blog.