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Exchange Database Corruption – Causes and Preventive Measures

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Exchange Server is vulnerable to corruption and other issues. Though the latest versions of Exchange are more stable and mature, one cannot guarantee that this platform is completely secure from issues. Some reasons for Exchange issues are discussed here:

  • Hardware issues
  • Server failure
  • Boot failure
  • Accidental shutdowns
  • Database grown beyond the storage limit
  • Anti-virus programs
  • User errors

Hardware issues: Substandard hardware is a major reason Exchange issues. Bad sectors in hard drive where Exchange data is stored can cause database inaccessibility. Motherboard failure, overheating, and other issues can damage the hard drives; failure of drives holding the database or log files can cause Exchange issues. And not paying attention to event logs can make these events go unnoticed.

Server failure: Exchange Server can fail due to various reasons such as OS stop error, communication issues, processor chip/mother board/backplane failure, etc. Exchange Server may experience downtime as a result of network issues, system overload, misconfiguration, and hardware issues too.

Boot failure: Boot failure can occur due to malware attacks or some other reasons like failure/non-response of system services and other applications. It can be caused by hardware malfunctioning and OS failures too.

Accidental shutdowns: Accidental and sudden shutdowns force Exchange information store to close down without writing transaction log files property, causing inconsistencies in the database files. Such shutdowns can occur due to sudden power failures or user errors.

Database grown beyond the storage limit: Excessive growth of Exchange database can cause issues. When the database size limit of Exchange Server exceeds the limit mentioned in the registry, the Exchange store dismounts and alerts users about it by displaying an error. Exchange database may get corrupt and lost forever too.

Anti-virus programs: Anti-virus programs, if not Exchange Server-aware, can cause Exchange issues if some directories, processes, and file names are not excluded from scanning. This issue is common with file level ant-virus scanners as such programs block Exchange databases or log files leading to database failure.

User errors: User errors are mainly administrator errors like stopping Microsoft Exchange Information Store Services, dismounting the wrong databases, deleting mailboxes or transaction log files, etc. Also, individual users may delete their mailbox items unknowingly. All these can make mailbox data inaccessible.

How to avoid EDB corruption issues?

Exchange corruption issues can be severe or minor. But most of them can be settled by employing professional third-party Exchange recovery tools. It is also important to take steps to prevent them. Here is how you can do this:

  • Use good quality hardware components to avoid hardware issues.
  • Approach Exchange Server experts for configuring appropriate Server settings.
  • Perform periodic data integrity checks and database maintenance activities for flawless Exchange Server operation.
  • Be careful with the usage of antivirus programs.
  • Perform regular backups, if possible.
  • Operate MS Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA) regularly.
  • Ensure that enough free space is available in the database.

If database corruption occurs in spite of all these precautions, you can try some EDB Recovery tools to recover your lost mailboxes.

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