Removing "First Server" status from the first 2003 excahnge server

Posted on 2006-07-15
Last Modified: 2008-02-01

We initially set up an exchange server for our organization expecting not to have to worry about supporting many users; but what should happen? I think you probably know. Using a budget pentium 3 server is not even acceptable for even 13 users. Well, after making aware our situation, I managed to snag an nice Xeon RAID setup to handle our email needs. However, this leaves the daunting task of transfering everything to the new exchange server to an  IT for a small comany whose training didn't cover this topic. Yes, yes, I have read artice #822931 from the microsoft website ( and was planning to execute when I thought of the worst case scenario; what happens if all these roles are stripped from the old server and the new one doesn't work? Well, the weekend is only one day around here (Like most places) so I thought I'd seek some advice. So in advance, thank you for anyone who attempts to help me. So, down to the more specific problem. We are running all exchange and related services on the same machine, no frontend backend, etc.; OWA and even the antivirus/antispam are on the one computer. I have set up the new server so far so that it was installed as an aditional exchange server, not the first. It has all the latest service packs (SP2 as of now), etc. The perfect scenario for me would be as follows. Be able to transfer all the "primary" (first) server roles to the new computer so that it is a complete copy of the old one but still have the old one around until we can change all the clients to said new server. The server that exchange is currently running on is called SERVER02, whilst the new one; EXCHANGE01. I don't mind if some of the roles that can only be installed on one server per site (all this takes place in one site) be installed on the new one, but basically, I want to keep the old one on life suport until it is no longer needed. After that exchange comes off it and, well, hopefully any trace of it can be extinguished. For the rundown: Transfer Exchange to new server without losing old one to support clients until switched to new server while maintaining full funtionality on both servers (esp. OWA). Thank you, I'd honestly have to go buy hundreds of dollars worth of training material without you people.

Question by:Maxwellb
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Expert Comment

ID: 17117313
You can have about 90% of the functionality of Exchange on two machines. Some parts can only be located on one machine.

However this isn't the problem you think it is.
As long as you aren't trying to run two machines with the same name, you can run both machines for as long as you like.
Replicate all the public and system folders from the original machine to the new machine.
Once that has been done, use the move mailbox wizard to move the mailboxes to the new machine. Leave the old machine intact.
The Outlook clients will redirect automatically.

Then leave both the old and the new server running for a week or so, while you check that everything is running correctly. You can then move the roles around, such as the offline address book generator and recipient update services server.
Remove the replication to the old server so that only the new server is running.
Finally simply remove Exchange from the old server using add/remove programs.


Author Comment

ID: 17119726
Hi simon,

So basically follow the directions in I read in an article that one has to take down the old server pretty quick otherwise problems arouse. Does replication automatically occur between the two servers as it is added, or would I have to first initiate it to have the files transfered to the new server? I was having a difficulty with OWA in that when I typed the address of the new exchange server, I was redirected to the old one (but not without telling me of an error about HTTPS because I hadn't set up the new one with a certificate yet.), is this normal and will it be corrected when I change the roles? For instance, when I shut down the old exchange server and left the new one on, I could not gain access to OWA through the new exchange server, it kept wanting to be redirected to the old one which wasn't turned on. I assume that how to replicate public folders and system folders is covered in the microsoft aricle? Does removing exchange from a server without a reformat leave any instability issues that affect windows?

Thanks for the assistance, Max
LVL 104

Expert Comment

ID: 17120561
What article did you say that told you to remove the other Exchange server quickly? It isn't anything that I have seen.
Exchange is designed to operate in a multi server environment. Nothing that you have written appears unusual.

OWA behaviour also seems normal. OWA will only work for client mailboxes that are located on that server. If you connect to the wrong OWA machine then Exchange directs you.

You have to add the new server to list of replicas in the public and system folders. Then wait for the replication to take place. Adding the server to the replicas does NOT happen automatically, but once they have been set the data content should come across on its own. However, use message tracking to see that the content is flowing. It is not unusual to find that antivirus software is quarantining the email messages (replication goes in the form of SMTP email messages between the servers).

Exchange does remove quite cleanly. However I usually suggest that machine is rebuilt once Exchange has been correctly removed, especially if it is going to be used for something else. Although I would suggest with any change in a server role. I don't think it is a good idea to remove something and then install something else on to the same build.

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Author Comment

ID: 17162331
Sorry for the lag, am on vacation right now, will get back to trying this method as soon as I get back tomorrow.

Author Comment

ID: 17209303

Terribly sorry for not replying for a long time, got caught up with a few other projects. Anyways, it has been going very well. The entire network is now using the new Exchange server! Thank you for your posts. But when I go to remove the exchange server from the old computer, I get the following error message:

The component "Microsoft Exchange Messaging and Collaboration Services" ccannot be assigned the action "Remove" because:

- You cannot uninstall this server as there is at least one postmaser account currently homed on this server. Please remove this account to another server before attempting to uninstall.

- One or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server. These users must be moved to a mailbox store on a different server or be mail disabled before uninstalling this server.

I have taken all the mailboxes off the server except for three that are: SMTP, System Attendant, and System Mailbox. All of which cannot be transfered to the new server.

Author Comment

ID: 17209305
Thanks for your help!
LVL 104

Accepted Solution

Sembee earned 500 total points
ID: 17212168
Right at the end of my migration article is a technique for finding hidden mailboxes. You need to use that to ensure that everything has been moved across. For example you can create an account, mail enable, but if it is never used then a mailbox is never created. However the fact that it is mail enabled will be detected by active directory and the uninstall will fail.


Author Comment

ID: 17212705
Hi Simon,

HELP! Yes, the uninstall went just great. Thank You. But now I cannot send email OUT through the exchange server, giving me the error message:

Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

 Subject:      This is a test
Sent:      7/30/2006 6:41 PM

The following recipient(s) could not be reached:

 ****EMAIL ADDRESS**** on 7/30/2006 6:41 PM
  A network connection problem or an offline server prevented delivery of the message.  Attempt again after some time.  If it still fails, contact your administrator.The MTS-ID of the original message is:c=US;a= ;p=Brodienet;l=EXCHANGE01-060731014153Z-11
  MSEXCH:MSExchangeMTA:First Administrative Group:EXCHANGE01

Note: Replace  ****EMAIL ADDRESS**** with an actual email address.

The only possible thing that could be affecting it that was not covered in the microsoft article was that I followed the directions on (your website actually, I did this over 6 months ago and didn't even realize it until now, thanks for all your help!) I set it to use our ISP's outgoing SMTP. Would that have any affect?

I would appriciate any ideas or support, It is a buisness day tomorrow!


Author Comment

ID: 17212852
Hi Simon,

Nevermind, all it took was a reboot. Imagine that. I should know by now. My first post and reason for me singing up to this site was because I didn't reboot. Anyways, THANK YOU simon for all your help. 500 Points awarded.

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