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Exchange Server 2003 on a member server, Can that server be promoted to a Domain Controller

bjennings asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-05

I have an exchange 2003 server SP2 that is installed on a Windows 2003 Sp1 Member server.  I know it is not the ideal situation but I need another Domain Controller, so I want to promote this member server to  DC.
A computer professional told me that it would be okay, but I want to make sure.

Has anyone had any experience with this?  
Can anyone offer any advice or possible issues I might have doing this?

I appreciate it!!



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Expert of the Year 2007
Expert of the Year 2006
It is not supported to change the role of the Exchange server once Exchange is installed.

You are likely to break parts of Exchange - the most at risk OWA, OMA, EAS, RPC over HTTPS, in fact anything that uses security outside of the Exchange database.

So the advice I would give you is don't do it.

The only supported way to make the change is to remove Exchange, DCPROMO the machine up and then reinstall Exchange.


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If I uninstall exchange, will that remove all my mailboxes and public folders?  Basically, would I be starting from scratch?


Before I would install Exchange and a DC role on a single server I would either buy an additional server or set up a virtualized DC. I have used virtualized DCs in the past and they work quiet well ,as long as you have at least one physical.
IT Engineer
Yes , you would be starting from scratch but there is always the unsuppoted way.
Is this your only Exchange server ? If not you could just move the mailboxex into another server.
Or just install a temporary exchange server on another machine (can be a normal workstation with a 2003 server installed) , move mailboxes and public folders to the new server.
Uninstall exchange from the first machine , promote and install again.

Or if that is not an option take the hard way (remember I tried this once) :

Make a backup oif your exchange database and place it on a safe place.(the "mdbdata" folder - as long as you have this you are safe )
PATCH the exchange with latest SP.
Go in the exchange manager and enable the option : "This database can be overwritten by a restore"
Promote the machine to DC.
Check if exchange runs ... might run might not.

If not :
Run exchange setup with the /disasterrecovery option. (This will only make the changes to the AD and not install all your exchange components)
Forestprep and domain prep has been done first time you installed Exchange.

Run Exchange setup and choose RE Install.
Patch the exchange with latest SP.

Start Exchange management and see if the database is mounted if it is mounted  and the exchange is ok and running.
if yes then Dismount the Store. Same for public folders.

Rename the existing priv1.edb to priv2.edb for example.
Copy your backup on the MbData folder. Only the priv1.ebd and priv1.stm (forget the rest)
Same for your pub1.edb (public folders)

When this is done mount the mailbox store and the Public folders store. It will take some time.

Everything should be back to normal.

Expert of the Year 2007
Expert of the Year 2006

This process doesn't actually harm the Exchange data - the backup / restore is not required.
The problems with the process are all down to permissions and how Exchange works with the host machine.

You might get away with doing the process then reinstalling Exchange on top - that has worked for me in the past - but I have also seen a number of failures.

Considering the risk involved and the cost of a machine, I personally would get my hands on a new machine.

George SasIT Engineer

This is also the first way I would go for sure , but I had several cases where I did not had this option and the machine was a DC that needed upgrade.
Did it my "hard" way and it worked everytime.


Thank you so much for all your input.  I feel I am asking for more trouble than its worth, so I found a desktop PC that I will install windows server.
The reason I am doing this is we only have 1 dc in the whole organization.

I am going to split the points between Sembee and GeoSs.  

Again, thanks for everyone’s help!
George SasIT Engineer

Glad we could be of help.
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