Exchange Server 2010 – Administrative Access to All Mailboxes

In Exchange 2010, the storage group has disappeared. Instead, the properties of a database and of a storage group have merged – the result being referred to as a database. Effectively, a database has been promoted to be as important as a storage group used to be.

You may could have predicted this coming from changes which happened in Exchange 2007, as a number of features required that a storage group only have a single database contained within those storage groups.

Regardless of which, a mailboxdatabase is unique within an Exchange 2010 organization. That means you can no longer have a mailboxdatabase named “Mailbox Database” or “Mailbox (servername)” on each and every server within your Exchange organization. Instead, each and every mailboxdatabase name is unique. This is guaranteed by a many-digit number suffixed to the end of a mailbox database’s name.

This does simplify some aspects of administration – instead of having to specify server\storage-group\database in order to name a specific database, you can now specify simply the database name. However, the name of that database may be something like “Mailbox Database 1015374940” (which is the name of the mailbox database hosting my production domain). That is somewhat more challenging to remember. Just somewhat. HAH.

One of the changes involved in moving databases to be organizational objects instead of server objects makes it practical to (again – after skipping Exchange 2007) allow a single user or group administrative access to all Exchange 2007 mailboxes.

Of course, this can be done from the GUI – however, the GUI you must use is LDP.exe or ADSIEdit.msc – not the Exchange Management Console (EMC).

However, this is probably easier to do from the Exchange Management Shell (EMS), given that you know a couple of key facts: the distinguishedname of your Active Directory domain and any of three formats for a user/group you want to allow this access.

Note that allowing Administrative Access to all mailboxes can be tracked by logging – but only if that logging is enabled – and that logging is not enabled by default. Also note that there may be legal issues associated with allowing specific users or groups access to all mailboxes in your organization – I recommend that every organization have a information access and security policy that includes corporate access and use of electronic mail. Finally, this information is provided for instructional purposes and I accept no liability for providing this information or to any use to which it may be put.

Now that I’ve covered my rear….

If, for example, your forest is named named, then the distinguished name of that forest is DC=example,DC=com. If your forest is named SBS.Example.Local, then the distinguishedname of the forest is DC=SBS,DC=Example,DC=Local. Now, remember that. 🙂

In terms of specifying a user or group name that you are going to provide access, you have three possible formats:




For example, if your Active Directory forest name is example.local and the NetBIOS domain name is EXAMPLE, and the security principal is named TEST and that principal is located in the Users container, you would have these examples:




Finally, using the above example, you would have this PowerShell command:

Add-AdPermission –Identity “CN=Databases,CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=example,DC=local” –User EXAMPLE\TEST –InheritedObjectType msExchPrivateMDB –extendedRights Receive-As –inheritanceType Descendents

Or, if we were to expand this out a little bit:

$principal = “EXAMPLE\Test”
$domain = “DC=example,DC=local”
$identity = “CN=Databases,” +
“CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT),” +
“CN=Administrative Groups,CN=First Organization,” +
“CN=Microsoft Exchange,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,” +
Add-AdPermission –Identity $identity –User $principal `
–InheritedObjectType msExchPrivateMDB `
–extendedRights Receive-As `
–inheritanceType Descendents

Until next time…

If there are things you would like to see written about, please let me know!

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