Surprise, surprise: Enable/ disable circular logging without downtime

This posting is ~5 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

As part of a troubleshooting process, I had to disable circular logging on a Microsoft Exchange 2013 mailbox database, that was part of a Database Availability Group (DAG).

What is circular logging? Microsoft Exchange uses log files that record all transactions and modifications to a mailbox database. In this case, Exchange works like MS SQL or Oracle. These log files are used, to bring the database back to a consistent state after a crash, or to recover a database to a specific point-in-time. Because everything is written to log files, the number of log files increases over time. Log files are truncated, as soon as a successful full backup of the database is taken.

If you don’t need the capability to recover to a specific point-in-time, or if you are running low on disk space, circular logging can be an alternative. Especially if you are running low on disk space, because your backup isn’t working as expected. With circular logging enabled, Microsoft Exchange maintains only the minimum number of log files that is necessary, to keep the Exchange server running. As soon as a transaction was written to the database, the log file will be overwritten.

I rarely use circular logging. But this time I had to. As already mentioned, I had a mailbox database with enabled circular logging. This database was part of a DAG and I had to disable circular logging. Usually, you need to dismount and re-mount the database after enabling or disabling circular logging.

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Get-MailboxDatabase | ? {$_.CircularLoggingEnabled -eq $true}  | select name,server

Name                                              Server
----                                              ------
DAG1_DB_AH1                                       MBX4

You can enable or disable circular logging using the Microsoft Exchange Control Panel (ECP), or with the Microsoft Exchange Management Shell. I have used the PowerShell.

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Set-MailboxDatabase DAG1_DB_AH1 -CircularLoggingEnabled $False

To my surprise, dismounting and re-mounting the database was not necessary. The circular logging was disabled without downtime. I’ve checked the TechNet, and the observed behaviour was confirmed.


A non-replicated mailbox databases will use JET circular logging. If the database is part of a DAG, the database will use continuous replication circular logging (CRCL). A benefit of CRCL is, that it can be enabled and disabled without the need of dismounting and re-mounting the mailbox database.

To get this clear: This only works if you are using replicated mailbox databases, because only databases that belong to a DAG are using CRCL. If you are using standalone mailbox databases, you have to dismount and re-mount the database, after enabling or disabling circular logging.

As I mentioned earlier: I really don’t use circular logging often, but that was very handy today!

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Patrick Terlisten
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