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Exchange 2010 Online Mailbox Move, a Deep Dive

Amit Tank [MVP – Exchange Server]

Amit Tank [MVP – Exchange Server] Photo

Amit Tank is an MVP in Exchange Server and Microsoft Certified Professional in MCITP, MCTS, MCSA and MCP. He has more than 6 years of experience in IT industry.

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Mailboxes are inaccessible when moved across servers, causing major pain in any Exchange transition or migration project. One step ahead, Exchange 2010 delivers a new feature to move mailboxes while keeping them online to end users.

In Exchange 2000, 2003 and 2007 mailboxes become unavailable during movement. Exchange internally performs a MAPI copy operation using the function IMapiProp::CopyTo() and to ensure that no data is lost, it locks the mailbox.

Exchange 2010 came up with a new wonderful feature called 'Online Mailbox Move' that allows end-users to be online in their email accounts. On completing the move users just needs to reopen their Outlook clients.

Mailbox Move Requests are a new feature set of Exchange 2010 and requires running a series of Cmdlets to perform asynchronous online mailbox moves with the help of a service agent called Mailbox Replication Service (MRS). MRS is available on all Exchange 2010 Client Access Servers.

Mailbox Replication Service

Note: Online mailbox moves are only supported in the following scenarios while moving mailboxes within the same forest or across forests.

  1. Between two Exchange 2010 databases
  2. From Exchange 2007 SP2 database to Exchange 2010 database

Let's start with a simple move request in EMC to understand the procedure performed for a mailbox move.

Move Requests in EMC

We can select one or a list of mailboxes to be moved. To execute the move, select "New Local Move Request" from the Action Pane, or from the context menu that pops-up on right-clicking the selected mailboxes.

New Local Move Request

Select the target mailbox database where you want to move the mailbox.

Move Mailbox Wizard

Once you select Move, the operation is completed in less than a second. All it does is to update the job information in AD, the System Mailbox of the target database and initiates MRS to start the movement. Later MRS performs the asynchronous mailbox moves in the background.

Move Mailbox Wizard

You can see the status of a move request in 'Recipient Configuration | Move Request'. Initially the status shows 'Queued' since we just created the move request.

Request Queued

When any one of the MRS instances picks up the request, the status changes to 'Moving'.

Milabox Moving

We can check the properties of the Move Request to see detailed information.

Move Status

Once the move is finished, the status will be changed to 'Completed'.

Move Complete

When movement is completed the end user will receive a message to restart his Outlook client.

Restart Outlook

OWA is pretty simple; it just pops an Error reporting that it needs to be closed to gain mailbox access.

Restart OWA

At last, upon completion, we need to clear the move request using 'Clear Move Request', otherwise we would not be able to initiate another move request for the same mailbox.

Clear Move Request

Configuring the Mailbox Replication Service (MRS)

MRS can be configured to throttle the move requests. All settings are stored in a configuration file named MSExchangeMailboxReplication.exe.config. This is located under:
<Exchange dir.>\bin

We can configure various properties for throttling, such as the maximum movement per source/target database, the maximum movement per source/target server and many others depending on the capacity of the server. However I would follow the default configuration that is tested and configured to give optimum performance by Microsoft.

Configuration Settings

All MRS instances in an AD site work together to ensure that throttling is being followed as per the configuration and also to make sure that a move request is not picked up by more than one MRS instance. MRS constantly searches for all move requests in its own AD site.

Move requests can handle server failures efficiently by checking the status of the target database every 5 minutes during the move operation. If a database is non-operational, MRS will take a nap of 30 seconds and retries. In case the destination changes due to a failover, MRS will detect the new database location and restarts the move.

User Comments - Page 1 of 1

lk 8 Jul 2014 07:25
Harisha 21 Mar 2011 18:35
If I have Exchange 2007 SP2 in Site A and Exchange 2007 SP2 in Site B.

I'll introduce Exchange 2010 CAS in both the sites, will I be able to achieve on-line mailbox move?
Flaviano 10 Nov 2010 01:29
Thank you for the answer, Alexander.

I solved it. I had to enable inheritance for some values in AD, through ADSIEdit (thanks to Best Practices Analyzer!!!). I know I can't move mailboxes online, but after this fix now I'm able to make "local move requests".
Is it a real "mailbox moving" or did I not understand somethings???
Thank you very much.

Alexander Zammit 9 Nov 2010 09:43
As this article explains you cannot make an online mailbox move from Ex03 to Ex10.

Also check this:
Flaviano 9 Nov 2010 09:03
I must move mailboxes from exchange 2003 to new 2010 (they are in the same forest). When I try to move online, I receive an error: Exchange can'y find the db (same error if I try to see mailbox properties).
Any idea?
Thank you.
Andrew Wharton 20 Aug 2010 17:52
Did you find out what this was Luis Garcia ?

I am experiencing it also.


Please mail me
Amit Tank 19 Aug 2010 13:10
Ram: In Exchange 2010, we don’t have storage groups anymore. But yes you need to create the mailbox database as per you need and move the mailboxes.

Me: Yes, all local move request from supported version of Exchange (2007 SP2 or 2010) to Exchange 2010 is online mailbox move. Moving method is same but if your source server Exchange version doesn’t support online mailbox move then user can’t able to access the mailbox.

I have a 300 GB Data store on both servers: Exchange database size won’t be decreased until you do offline defragment. The amount of data you moved of that space will be just marked as a white space. This is since Exchange 2000 – Reference:

Malc: It is Eseuitl /D switch do to defragment. We don’t have any switch like /compress. Eseutil /D:

Chetan: You need to increase the recoverable items quota for the target mailbox database by using the Set-MailboxDatabase cmdlet with the RecoverableItemsQuota parameter.

Luis Garcia: I would start checking update rollups on Exchange server, if latest one is not installed, install it and check. Also you would ask your query in some of the Exchange forum where you would get responses from various experts.
Luis Garcia 13 Aug 2010 06:34
Has anyone seen doing moves from Ex 2003 to 2010 where randomly the information store in 2010 hangs? For example the Mail gets stuck in the outbook but clients remain connected? In my scenario It can be with one or more, sometimes when it gets to 20% or even 60%. Once I restart the IS and restart the process works sometimes?.
Pcarp 11 Aug 2010 15:14
@Chetan, Go to the properties dialog for the mailbox database that you are moving the mailbox to and look at the "Limits" tab. Either remove the limit restrictions, or increase the limits so that they accomodate the large boxes you are moving. Ex2010 won't allow you to move a mailbox to a database if that mailbox exceeds the quotas for that database.
chetan 10 Aug 2010 01:56
Hi Amit, I am getting following error while moving mailbox from exchange 2k3 to ex2010.
"Mailbox size 2.535 GB (2,721,819,630 bytes) exceeds target quota 2.3 GB (2,469,396,480 bytes)."
Is there any way that i can ignore mailboxsize error while moving the users. & i can't find option to schedule multiple user move request.
Malc 2 Jul 2010 00:35
The answer to the database size is that you have to take the database off line and run eseutil with the /compress switch. exchange databases are like having an extention to your house for your kids. once your kids leave home the house is still the same size, you can utilise the space if you add more mailboxes but it never shrinks. runing eseutil and compressing the database shrinks the database back down. you need at least as much space on your hard disk as the database.
i have a 300 GB Data store on both servers. 27 May 2010 12:41
i have a 2 server exchange environment (not running DAG). I brought the second one online 6 months after my primary. I moved 90% of my users but my mail store is not shrinking. It stayed the same size even though i have moved all my users off of it.. Can anybody explain this?
Me 25 May 2010 09:28
Soooo, all Local Move Requests are Online Move Requests? They aren't two different types of requests?
Ram 8 Mar 2010 08:13
Thanks for sharing. I'm planning to move my mailboxes from my Exchange 2k7 SP2 to my new Exchange 2010 that I've just set up. Do I need to create new storage groups and databases on my new server that match those I have on the 2k7 SP2 box before doing the move? I'm not clear about that part so I'll really appreciate your feedback. Thanks in advance.
Sathish Kumar Elango 9 Feb 2010 22:11
Excellent Job Amit :)
Regards, Sathish.
Erikf 12 Nov 2009 07:14
Have anyone trid this with users running Entourage or Macmail? How will they know when the move is complete?
Amit Tank 7 Nov 2009 03:48

You can clear all completed move requests with below cmdlet.

Get-MoveRequest | Where{$_.Status -eq "Completed"} | Remove-MoveRequest -Confirm:$False


'Get-MoveRequest' gets all move request regardless of status.

'Where{$_.Status -eq "Completed"}' filters the result of Get-MoveRequest and get the completed requests only.

'Remove-MoveRequest -Confirm:$False' remove all the move requests filtered with Completed status without asking for the confirmation.

Hope this helps!
NWO 7 Nov 2009 02:05
How can I "Clear Move Request" for all of them in one single command?
Elvis 23 Sep 2009 00:56
Cool! thank you for sharing!
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