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Move Mailboxes Off Failed Exchange 2003 Server

We have an Exchange 2003 environment with 2 servers, one in Chicago and one in London.  Our London server is down and we're working with a tech support firm to fix it but in the meantime I'd like to figure out what my current options are to restore some basic operations.

In our current environment all mail comes in to the Chicago server (our MX host) and for the London users the mail is then sent to the London server.  With the London server down the London users have no ability to send or receive email.

What is the best way to give them the ability to send/receive in the short term?  Can I just move their mail accounts to the Chicago server?  What will be the repurcussions of doing so once the London server comes back online?  There are only 3 users in London but they all have mailboxes in the 3-4 GB range and I don't want the entire contents of those mailboxes coming back to Chicago over the T-1 line when that server comes back up.

The worst case scenario is the server is shot and I have to perform a recovery to a new server in our Chicago office.  That scenario is documented but it's my immediate options that I'm curious about.
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CCMITServices
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CCMITServices
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1 Solution
 
SembeeCommented:
Quickest way round this is to remove the Exchange attributes from the user accounts, then recreate the mailboxes on your server.
When the server comes back up again, let it is replicate those changes back. Run cleanup wizard and their old mailboxes should be disconnected.

Exmerge out the new email in to a pst file, then repeat the procedure of removing the Exchange attributes and reconnect to the old mailboxes. Finally import the pst file in to their live mailbox.

Simon.
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CCMITServicesAuthor Commented:
When you say "remove the Exchange attributes" do you mean use ADModify and remove the homeMDB and homeMTA or is there another way to do that?
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SembeeCommented:
No
Right click on the user and choose Exchange Tasks. Choose remove Exchange attributes from the menu.

Simon.
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CCMITServicesAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your help Simon.  I'm going to hold off until I hear back from the techs in the UK before I go messing with the Exchange environment.  If I end up doing what you mention above then I'll come back and update the notes with any comments.
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CCMITServicesAuthor Commented:
One thing I've noticed in testing with a dummy account is that after I perform the "Remove Exchange Attributes" task the mailbox still exists on the server but there is nothing I can do with it (Reconnect option is not available).  Also when I go to set the user back up with a mailbox the old mailbox is wiped away and the new one is empty.  I need to find a way keep the existing mailboxes on the failed server from being deleted (I have backups but would rather not take the 20 hours to restore the mailboxes over a T-1 line).  Is there any way to do that?

Also I have been told by the techs in the UK that they may not get to our server until Tuesday which means I need to do something to restore mail capability today.  I was thinking of creating additional accounts for the UK users on our Chicago server and have all mail sent to their primary account also be delivered to their Chicago based account.  This way they would at least be able to send and receive using the Chicago account and we wouldn't risk losing their mailboxes on the London server.  Does that sound like something that will work?
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SembeeCommented:
The behaviour with a live server will be different to that of a dead server.

Another option would be to simply create another account.
Configure in Active Directory a forward to the temporary account. When the original server and account becomes available again, reverse the forward.

Configure the original account to allow the new account to send as the original account (which doesn't require the mailbox, just the AD) and then get the user to enter the correct account in the from field.

Simon.
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