Exchange 2016 Recipients Disconnected mailboxes

  • Each respective Microsoft Exchange mailbox consists of an Active Directory user account and the mailbox data are actually stored in the Exchange mailbox database.
  • All configuration data especially for a mailbox is stored in the Exchange attributes of the Active Directory user object. And the mailbox database includes the mail data that’s in the mailbox related with the user account. The following shown figure depicts the components of a mailbox.

Exchange Recipients Disconnected mailboxes

Mailbox components

A disconnected mailbox is a mailbox object present in the mailbox database which isn’t associated or related with an Active Directory user accounts.

Disconnected mailboxes in two ways:

  • When a mailbox is deactivate/disabled or deleted in the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) or via using the Disable-Mailbox orRemove-Mailbox cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell, then the Exchange retains the deleted mailbox in the mailbox database, and turn/switches the mailbox to a disabled state. This is the reason as to why mailboxes that are either disabled or deleted are known as disabled mailboxes.


  • The main difference is that when a mailbox is disabled, the Exchange attributes are deleted or removed from the corresponding Active Directory user account, however, the user account is retained. And when you delete a mailbox, then both the Exchange attributes and the Active Directory user account is deleted.


  • Disabled and deleted mailboxes are preserved and retained in the mailbox database till the deleted mailbox retention period get expires, that is 30 days by default. When the retention period expires, the mailbox is permanently deleted (also known as purged). In case a mailbox is removed using the Remove-Mailbox cmdlet, it’s also preserved for the duration of the retention period.

To determine the disabled mailboxes in your company, execute the following command in the Exchange Management Shell.

  • Get-MailboxDatabase | Get-MailboxStatistics | Where { $_.DisconnectReason -eq “Disabled” } | ft DisplayName,Database,DisconnectDate


  • Soft-deleted mailboxes While a mailbox is moved to a distinguished mailbox database, and Exchange doesn’t completely delete the mailbox from the source mailbox database when the migration is complete. Rather, the mailbox present in the source mailbox database is switched to a soft-deleted state. And like disabled mailboxes, soft-deleted mailboxes are preserved in the source database either till the deleted mailbox retention period get expires or till the Remove-StoreMailbox cmdlet is utilized to purge the mailbox.


  • Execute the following command to find out the soft-deleted mailboxes present in your organization.

  • Get-MailboxDatabase | Get-MailboxStatistics | Where { $_.DisconnectReason -eq “SoftDeleted” } | ft DisplayName,Database,DisconnectDate


  • Working with disabled mailboxes
  • Working with disabled archive mailboxes
  • Working with soft-deleted mailboxes
  • Summary of working with disconnected mailboxes
  • Disconnected mailbox documentation

Connecting or restoring a disabled mailbox

Here are few scenarios in which you might wish to connect or restore a disabled mailbox prior of the mailbox retention period get expires or before it gets permanently deleted:

  • Disabled a mailbox and now wish to reconnect the mailbox to the very same Active Directory user account.
  • A mailbox is deleted by using the EAC or the Remove-Mailbox cmdlet and now wish to reconnect the mailbox to a distinguished Active Directory user account.
  • You deleted a mailbox and now wish to restore the mailbox to an existing mailbox. For instance, in case a user whose mailbox was deleted/removed has a new mailbox, you are allowed to restore the user’s disabled mailbox to their new mailbox.
  • You wish to convert a user mailbox to a linked mailbox related with a user account which is external to the forest in which your Exchange organization is present. The resource forest scenario is an example of when you might want to relate a mailbox with an external account. In this given scenario, user objects in the Exchange forest might have mailboxes; however, the user objects are disabled for logon. You should associate a mailbox in the Exchange forest with a user account present over the external account forest.
Permanently deleting a disabled mailbox
  • As stated earlier, Exchange retains disabled mailboxes present in the mailbox database depending on the deleted mailbox retention settings configured for that respective mailbox database. After the mentioned retention period, a disabled mailbox is purged from the Exchange mailbox database. You might also permanently delete a disabled mailbox and all its available message content from the mailbox database by utilizing the Remove-Store Mailbox camdlet.
  • After a disabled mailbox is by default automatically purged or permanently removed or deleted by an administrator, the done data loss is permanent and the mailbox can’t be recovered.
You can conduct two operations on a soft-deleted mailbox:
  • Restore it to an presently existing mailbox.
  • Permanently remove it from the Exchange mailbox database.
  • The steps for restoring and permanently deleting a soft-deleted mailbox are same to that of a disabled mailbox.

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