removing old Exchange server but disconnected mailbox shows for users already moved ot new Exchange server

Posted on 2008-10-14
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Exchange 2003 SP2 on server 2003 SP3... We are trying ti finalize the transition to a new Exchange server... somehow some of our IT people managed to move their accounts to the new server and still have accounts show up on the old server.  Now when i try to gracefully remove Exchange it tells me there are still users in the mail store and I can not remove it.  If I try to purge the accounts (they show up as disconnected mailboxes in system manager) it says the mailbox is already connected to another account... I created an account to try to attach them too and still it says the mailbox is already connected to an existing user.  2 of these accounts are still in use and I can't just delete them to be able to fix this so I need to find a way to get rid of these ghosts on the old server so we can gracefully remove Exchange
Question by:cymrich
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 22714175
Say for instance one of the mailboxes is "John Doe"...Can you find the user "John Doe" in ADUC, go to "properties" and then the "Exchange General" tab and see which Server/mailbox he is connected to? If the User account is connected to the old mailbox, run Exchange Tasks on that user and choose to delete the mailbox. Then go back to ESM and run the Exchange Cleanup Agent...then puge the mailbox.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 22714213
I had the same issue - what I had to was remove the mailbox from the user in AD - delete mailbox.  Now there should be 2 disconnected mailboxes for the same user.
Now reconnect the 'good' mailbox to the user and you should be good.
If you need to get the data from the just disconnected mailbox create a test user with no mailbox and connect it up.  Then export the data with exmerge or outlook then import it into the 'good' mailbox

Author Comment

ID: 22714674
the accounts are all attached to the mailboxes on the new server.  The ones on the old server are ghost accounts that wont go away but thinks they are attached.  

I actually just figured out how to get rid of them though.  I tried moving one of the accounts back to the old server and it failed with an error.  After viewing the error details it said it failed because of a duplicate mailbox, and that the duplicate was deleted.  Checked system manager and refreshed and sure enough... the ghost is gone!  Did this with the other 2 and got the same thing... now all 3 are gone.  
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 22714749
If you think that this box is completely unimportant and the data on this box does not have anything significant. My recommendation - dismount your (all of them) stores.

Take an offline backup of your Exchange database files (all of the .EDB and .STM files)

Use the world-famous KB 833396.

Author Comment

ID: 22714821
ok... so the assumed issue has been fixed but the core issue is still present... when I try to uninstall exchange it tells me "one or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server".  I had assumed this was because of those ghost accounts...  now the only "mailboxes" it shows on the server are the service accounts... smtp, system attendant, and 2 Systemmailbox with different SIDs after them... when I click on any of these and choose exchange tasks it says there are no tasks available for them.  I tried shutting down all the exchange services to see if maybe it just didn't like the fact that they were running and still no difference...
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

ryansoto earned 500 total points
ID: 22714912
This is quite normal - you probably have a hidden mailbox.

For example when I did this procedure I have a blackberry mailbox but I hide the address from the global address list.  Which hides it from the list you see (where you only see the 3 system mailboxes)
Use this to help you find which account is still in that mail store
LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 22714953
First of all, Exchange WONT ever allow you to remove those three accounts from the box EVER - ANd trust me Exchange will uninstall if this box has those three mailboxes on them.

If you are so adamant to troubleshoot, well then lets hit the road.

Please do me a favour, run this command from the exchange box.


Open the file adusers.csv in Microsoft Excel and do a normal search for your affected Exchange server. If you find any hit apart from the above three accounts - you have hit the jackpot - search for the attribute DistinguishedName - this would tell you where that mailbox - user is located.

Once, you find the user - right click - exchange task - delete mailbox.

If this does not work please do tell me.

Author Comment

ID: 22714983
I've never seen hiding an account fromt he global address list keep it from showing in system manager before =/

I may have stumbled across a solution for this one too though... looked through ADUC and found 4 system mailboxes under Microsoft Exchange System Objects and deleted the 2 with the SIDs listed on the old server.  ran cleanup and was able to purge those 2 fromt he server... now I only have smtp and system atendant.  

will try uninstalling then look into your link if it still fails...

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31506011
there were 2 accounts created for testing purposes... I don't think these had ever been logged in but they were attached to the old server... had to use method 1 to find the first, second didnt show till I used method 2... from your link.  Didn't have to use method 3 as it allowed me to uninstall after I found the 2nd.  

Thanks you very much for the assistance.

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