Delete Orphaned Mailboxes in Exchange 2010


Anuraag Singh | Published: July 13, 2016 | Exchange Server 2010 | 3 Minutes Reading

Hello Guys today we are going to discuss about how to delete Orphaned Mailboxes in Exchange 2010. Orphaned mailboxes are also called disconnected mailboxes, the reason behind calling disconnected mailbox is that mailbox which is not connected with Active Directory.
The Microsoft Exchange mailboxes have an Active Directory of user account and the Exchange mailbox database. The mailbox configuration data is stored in Active Directory of user object. The mailbox database stores emails that is in the mailbox associated with the user account. When the mailbox object present in mailbox database is not associated an Active Directory of user account then it becomes disconnected or orphaned.

Types of Disconnected or Orphaned Mailboxes

Disabled Mailboxes

There are two reasons behind disabling the mailboxes:

  • When the mailboxes are deleted from Exchange Administration Center
  • Disconnected by using PowerShell cmdlet Disable-Mailbox or Remove-Mailbox

However, Exchange holds back the deleted mailbox in database and then switches the mailbox to disable state. Whenever the admin disable a mailbox, the Exchange attributes are removed from Active Directory but user account is retained in Exchange Server. The retention of disabled mailboxes depends on the retention period, which is 30 days by default.

Soft Deleted Mailbox

Whenever the admin moves the mailbox from its database to a different mailbox database, Exchange does not completely delete the mailbox from the source database even when mailbox has been migrated to destination database. The mailbox in source database will retain the soft-deleted state. The retention of soft-deleted mailbox will depend on retention period imposed by the admin.

Disabling and Deleting a Mailbox in Exchange

Whenever the admin permanently deletes disconnected mailboxes, all the data in the mailbox is also removed from the Exchange mailbox database. Moreover, when admin permanently deletes any active mailbox, the Active Directory associated with user account is also deleted.
Therefore, the primary difference between deleting and disabling an Exchange mailbox is that when the admin disable the mailbox, its attributes are deleted from Active Directory but user’s mailbox can be retained.
Whereas in mailbox deletion one cannot get back their mailbox data from database as its Exchange attributes and Active Directory is deleted.
Note: There is an alternative method where admin can disconnect the mailbox instead of permanently deleting it. When the admin disconnects a mailbox object from Active Directory, by default, it remains in the mailbox database for 30 days. This gives Exchange admin the opportunity to reconnect or restore a mailbox data before it is purged from the database.

How to Delete Orphaned Mailboxes in Exchange 2010

Admin can use PowerShell commands to permanently disabled mailboxes from Exchange 2010.
There are some steps that user can take to delete the Orphaned or disabled mailboxes:

  1. User can clean all the tasks using
    Command: clean-mailboxdatabase "user_mailbox_name" Clean Mailbox Database
  2. Get the list of all disconnected Mailboxes present in database.
    Command:Get-MailboxStatistics -Database “Database store name” | where {$_.DisconnectReason -eq “display name”} Get Disconnected Mailbox
  3. After getting the list of disconnected mailboxes user can delete the mailbox from database using following commands:
    • For permanently deleting the disabled mailbox:
      Command: Remove-StoreMailbox -Database “Mailbox Database” -Identity"User_mailbox_name"-MailboxState Disabled Remove Mailbox Store
    • For permanently deleting the soft deleted mailbox:
      Command: Remove-StoreMailbox -Database “Mailbox database” -Identity "user_mailbox_name" -MailboxState SoftDelete Remove Mailbox Store Soft Delete


By using above mentioned procedure about How to Delete Orphaned Mailboxes in Exchange 2010, we can conclude that Exchange Server 2010 admin can easily delete the orphaned or disconnected mailboxes using PowerShell commands in an effective way. The above mentioned command can be executed either in PowerShell or in Exchange Management Shell (EMS) of Exchange Server 2010.