Methods to Export Disconnected Exchange User Mailbox to PST

The article will explain the manual solution to export disconnected Exchange mailboxes to PST format through Exchange PowerShell or Exchange Management Shell cmdlets.

Note that this procedure is applicable to Exchange 2010 and above versions only as the required Exchange Server applications and services are available with these versions only.

Exchange users come across many situations where they require expert advice to carry out an operation. One such popular query is that their Exchange mailbox has got disconnected and they require archiving it to the PST format. This is generally performed to have a backup of that particular disconnected user mailbox or archiving old mailboxes data to a new mailbox. Further, in this article, you will be getting the solution for this query.

Before that, let us learn what the disconnected Exchange mailboxes are and how it got disconnected.

A disconnected mailbox is the one whose connection with the Active Directory account has been disabled and as a result, it is in an offline state.

The Exchange user mailbox becomes disconnected if it is either disabled or deleted. Disable mailbox is that where only mailbox is deleted and is not connected to the Active Directory Account. Whereas, deleting a mailbox cause deletion of the associated Active Directory account as well. Both the ways, the user mailbox is disconnected and on hold for 30 days (the retention period) after which it will be deleted forever. So, the Exchange users can still reconnect the Exchange account mailbox to the new user account or the existing one without any associated user mailbox if the disconnected mailbox is in the Retention period (not deleted for more than 30 days).

Hence, it is needed to export these disconnected mailboxes within the retention period.

How to Export Disconnected Exchange Mailboxes to PST?

One important thing to note here is that you cannot export the disconnected mailboxes directly to PST format. So, first, there is a requirement to make them connected with a temporary user in Exchange and then execute the Exchange Management Shell commands.

You can create the new user account in the Active Directory and then connect the disconnected Exchange user mailbox. To reconnect the user mailboxes within retention period, users can make use of the Exchange Management Console for Exchange 2010 and Exchange Admin Center for the newer versions. The method to reconnect the mailbox is simple.

In Exchange 2010
  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.
  2. Click Recipients Configuration from the left panel and expand it. Then click Disconnected Mailbox option.
  3. From the right panel, right-click on the disconnected mailbox which you want to export and click on Connect.
  4. Next, choose the user to which you want to reconnect, browse the Active Directory and click Next.
  5. Finally, click on Connect to connect the mailbox.
In 2013 and above versions
  1. Sign in to the Exchange Admin Center.
  2. Navigate to recipients>mailboxes.
  3. Click on 3 dots and select Connect a mailbox option.
  4. Choose the mailbox to reconnect and click on Connect option.
  5. Finally, confirm the connection by clicking on Yes option.

Now, the user must consider the given pre-requirements before running the export commands in Management Shell.

Pre-Requirements of the Manual Process
  • A temporary database or test database – For moving the mailbox to be exported content from original database to temporary database
  • The network shared folder storing PST – The PST folder must be shared with a network with all export permissions so that network is set up for export. For that, right-click on the folder with PST file, select Properties option, select Security tab and then under Exchange Trusted subsystem, assign the permissions and apply them.
Use of Exchange Management Shell

Start your Exchange Management Shell application as an administrator in the Exchange System and then execute the commands one-by-one to export disconnected Exchange mailboxes to PST.

  1. Assign the export rights to that user account (temporary one) executing this cmdlet.
    New-ManagementRoleAssignment -Role “Mailbox Import Export” -User < user name >

    Provide user name in the above command in place of <user name>.

  2. To export mailbox emails from source database to the target database, use this New-Mailbox Export Request command.
    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceStoreMailbox” < StoreMailboxIdParameter >” -SourceDatabase < DatabaseIdParameter > -TargetMailbox “< MailboxOrMailUserIdParameter >” –AllowLegacyDNMismatch

    Provide the required details in the above command like Source and Target database user IDs respectively.

  3. Then, finally export that mailbox from temporary database to the shared network folder PST file with this command.
    New-MailboxExportRequest -Mailbox < MailboxName > -FilePath “< PST file Path >

    Provide mailbox name in place of <MailboxName> and PST file saving location in place of <PST File Path> in the above command.

  4. The export will get successfully completed soon and you can access that PST file at the specified shared network location in your Outlook application. This PST file can be exported to any system location and used in the Microsoft application anytime.
  5. Once the export is completed, users can disable the reconnected mailbox if not to use in the future.
Hardships of the Above Solution
  • Lot of technicalities are involved
  • Complex in nature
  • Need Exchange environment
  • Indirect method
  • Manual error risks
  • No success guarantees
  • Data loss risks
  • Need expert help
  • Consumes much time
  • Cannot move corrupted mailboxes
  • Does not support versions before Exchange 2010
  • Resultant errors like – Access to Path is denied, File could be locked, Header file length is zero, Couldn’t connect to the source mailbox, etc.

So, nothing comes with full benefits, this manual solution has limitations and cannot be completely trusted as risk of manual errors along with data loss is always involved in it. And also, this solution is not friendly to earlier Exchange Server versions like Exchange 2000, 2003 or 2007.

Now what can help you if you want to avoid all these limitations on exporting disconnected Exchange mailboxes to PST file?

Let me guess, our Exchange Recovery software can be your saviour! It deals with any kind of Offline EDB file (corrupted, damaged, broken) for recovery process and then exports its content to Outlook PST file and other destinations efficiently. It is a direct method for exporting the disconnected Exchange mailboxes to PST within few steps only. As it is the automated method, you just need your disconnected mailbox (Offline EDB file) along with some system requirements to perform the whole export. This export can be selective also with use of integrated smart filter options. It covers all the Exchange Server versions, from the oldest to the latest ones for export. For users to get an idea about the features and functions of this advanced tool, a demo version is developed which you can download and install for free from the software website. Hope you all got what is meant by this article!

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Final Words

Exporting disconnected Exchange mailboxes to PST file as a backup can secure the data from these mailboxes before letting it deleted permanently. Users have an option of performing indirect manual export using Exchange Management Shell cmdlets but it is still a tough one and on risk always. As the last resolution, trusting the professional tool to export disconnected Exchange user mailbox to PST would be the best choice.

About Barrett Clay

Barrett is passionate about technology and an admirer who believes in offering instant computing solutions to everyone. He solves personal and business technical issues related to IT products, applications, IT environments, platforms, technologies, etc., through well-documented blogs and articles, informative, authentic and descriptive content. He participates in technical content development, content publishing and marketing.


  1. Thanks for sharing this explanative blog here, just because of this blog, I am able export my Exchange data to PST file. Every single step is described in a very simple way. Really appreciate it.

  2. I was seeking for solution to move my disconnected Exchange 2010 mailboxes data to PST. Due to lack of information I was not able to do it, after some web browsing I found this article which really worked for me. Thank you so much.

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