How to overcome some of the most common Exchange Server issues

The Exchange environment is complex and prone to problems that can affect performance – ranging from database mounting issues to Exchange Server crashes. Technically proficient Exchange administrators can overcome these difficulties using inbuilt Exchange features, but even the most experienced Exchange administrator will find themselves wasting valuable time and effort on mundane tasks. Below are a few common Exchange challenges that administrators will most likely face at some point in their career:

Dirty shutdown state and database mounting issues

Serious mounting issues occur when the database is in a Dirty Shutdown state (if you are unable to mount a database in a Clean Shutdown state, deleting the log files will enable the database to mount smoothly). If the database is in a Dirty Shutdown State, you will need to perform a software recovery using Eseutil /R before mounting it. If some of the transaction log files are missing, you can also perform the soft recovery but be aware that some of the data may be lost.

Exchange database corruption

If Database corruption cannot be fixed using the soft recovery method mentioned above, then the problem becomes a bit more serious. This kind of corruption can occur at database or application level and can affect multiple Exchange services. A hard recovery using Eseutil /P is the recommended method for dealing with this kind of corruption. However, this method does not guarantee a complete recovery of data, so it is advised that you create a copy of the database before attempting it. A hard recovery should be followed by offline defragmentation and an integrity check. An effective alternative to hard recoveries is to deploy third-party Exchange recovery solutions. They help you easily extract data from corrupt EDB files and save it in convenient formats. Before purchasing any third-party solution, make sure to try the free trial so that you can work out which solution best matches your requirements.

Inadequate backup and disaster recovery mechanism

Exchange Server’s inbuilt recovery features are designed to ensure the minimum amount of business continuity. Though backups can be useful, taking them regularly takes time and consumes storage space. If backups are old or corrupt at the time of the disaster, the data cannot be retrieved from them. In this scenario it becomes necessary to recover data from corrupt EDB files.

Difficulties in backing up individual mailboxes and items

Litigation requirements may force administrators to retain individual mailboxes or selected mailbox items for a very long period. The inbuilt Exchange retention and discovery features can be used to do this, but an easier and more convenient alternative is to convert mailboxes or items to PST files for portability. The process of PST conversion may differ in different versions of Exchange and will mostly require the use of Exchange Management Shell cmdlets.


If your Exchange administrators are technically proficient, you may be able to get away with using Exchange’s inbuilt features to deal with some of the common issues. However, an easy-to-use alternative to the native methods is to deploy an automated third-party solution. Exchange Recovery Manager, for example, helps you overcome most of the common Exchange corruption issues by easily extracting mailboxes and public folders from corrupt database and exporting mailboxes and public folders to PST format.