“Header file length is zero” when exporting a mailbox

Broken Exchange mailbox databaseFor years, I’ve been importing and exporting mailboxes with relatively no problems, when I started getting this error when exporting a number of mailboxes:

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>New-MailboxExportReqeust john.doe -FilePath \\server\share\john.doe.pst

Unable to open PST file ‘\\server\share\john.doe.pst’. Error details: Header file length is zero. If this file is from a previously failed pst export, please delete the file and resume the export.
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (0:Int32) [New-MailboxExportRequest], RemotePermanentException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : 10035AB2,Microsoft.Exchange.Management.RecipientTasks.NewMailboxExportRequest

The export request statistics contained…

FailureCode : -2146233088
FailureType : UnableToOpenPSTPermanentException
FailureSide :
Message : Error: Unable to open PST file ‘\\server\share\john.doe.pst’. Error details: Header file length is zero. If this file is from a previously failed pst export, please delete the file and resume the export. –> Header file length is zero. If this file is from a previously failed pst export, please delete the file and resume the export.
FailureTimestamp : 12/10/2015 3:39:36 PM
FailureContext : ——–
Operation: IMailbox.Connect
OperationSide: Target
PST (\\server\share\john.doe.pst)
Flags: None

Now, if I attempted to run the export again, I got this error…

The server or share name specified in the path may be invalid, or the file could be locked.
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (0:Int32) [New-MailboxExportRequest], RemotePermanentException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : AC199ECB,Microsoft.Exchange.Management.RecipientTasks.NewMailboxExportRequest

…and couldn’t delete the pst file either.

Repairing the mailbox didn’t help.

Here’s what I did to fix it:

1. I removed the export request with Get-MailboxExportRequest -Status Failed | Remove-MailboxExportRequest
2. I released the broken pst file by restarting the Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication service on the CAS. (Did I mention that this is on an Exchange 2010 server?) I was then able to delete it.

At this point, I could resubmit the move request and some mailboxes would export OK and others wouldn’t with no discernible pattern. Most of the time, I would get the same errors. I did notice one similarity between all of these mailboxes, however: They were all on the same database.

3. I moved the mailbox to a different database.

When I resubmitted the move request, it ran without a hitch. Now, I might have to create a new mailbox and move all the mailboxes off of this one before I delete it.

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