Personal Archive Won’t Open – Outlook or OWA

Exchange 2010 introduced Personal Archives as a way to get rid of the reliance of PST files.   PST files are notorious for their downsides.  Personal Archives are just another mailbox for a user that is stored on a mailbox database in Exchange 2010.   This gives the user a place to store their emails and administrators a more reliable place for user’s data. 

However, this also introduces additional complexity for either a migration to Exchange 2010 or a new install of Exchange 2010.  I recently had an issue with a customer where some of the Personal (or Online) Archives did not show up in Outlook or OWA.   If a user tried to access the archive from within Outlook there would first be a box that popped up that looked like this:

The user can click ‘OK’ or ‘Cancel’ with the same result.  If the archive mailbox is selected again, another error message pops up:

Click OK and you have no access to the archive.

At first we had no idea what the issue was.  The user tried cached and non-cached mode with the exact same results.  Next the user tried OWA to see if access would work there.  It did not.  Here is the error message for OWA:

The Online archive will be grayed out and not useable/available.

So what is the commonality?  I had read somewhere that there were two solutions that might work for mailboxes (not necessarily archive mailboxes) and those were to restart the Information Store – not like on production or to move the mailbox to another store.  I opted for option 2.  I could not move the archive either in the GUI:

Or in PowerShell:

This happened to about a half dozen users in the pilot.  So what was their commonality?  Well, after some investigation on each mailbox I found that PowerShell was reporting their Archive Database in the wrong place.  I found this by running:

get-mailbox -server <server name> |ft displayname,database,archivedatabase -auto

What I saw was the following:

DisplayName  Database ArchiveDatabase
———–  ——– —————
User01   DB002  Archive-DB002
User02   DB001  DB001
User03   DB001  Archive-DB002
User04   DB002  Archive-DB003
User05   DB002  DB002

Notice how Users 01, 03 and 04’s databases show as ‘Archive’ first.  That is the way all users archives databases should have been set.   Yet here are 2 archive mailboxes pointed to the wrong server.  How do we fix this?  ADSIEDIT

*** Disclaimer:  ADSIEDIT should only be used if you know what you are doing.  If you delete something wrong, I cannot be held responsible.  ***

OK.  To fix this, open up ADSIEdit [Default Naming Context] and find the user with the issue.   Go to Properties of their user object and look for the ‘msExcharchiveDatabaseLink’ attribute.  Change this to the correct database name.  Then wait for AD replication.   Once replicated, re-open Outlook and the archive now works.

Some Background Notes
The users at this organization were part of a pilot.  The pilot had not gone well and the users were moved back to Exchange 2003 from 2010.  In the process their archives were disabled.  The issue appeared when they were moved back to Exchange 2010 and had their archives reconnected to their mailboxes.

Mailbox move process
Steps for the users:

  • Disable-Mailbox -Identity -Archive
  • Search-Mailbox -Identity -SearchDumpsterOnly -estimateresultonly
  • Search-Mailbox -Identity -SearchDumpsterOnly -TargetMailbox “Discovery Search Mailbox” -TargetFolder “mailboxname-recoverableItems” -DeleteContent
  • Search-Mailbox -Identity -SearchDumpsterOnly -estimateresultonly
  • get-mailbox | set-mailbox -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $false
  • new-moverequest -identity -targetdatabase

Use GUI to move mailbox from Exchange 2003 to 2010.
get-mailbox | set-mailbox -SingleItemRecoveryEnabled $true
Reconnect disabled archive mailbox in the GUI in Disconnected Mailboxes



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