Moving a large number of Exchange 2003 mailboxes on remote AD site to Exchange 2007 HQ

Hello,

I have a transition project to Exchange 2007 where there is an Exchange 2003 server in a remote AD site. This mail server has a fairly large single database (250GB+) with approx. 800 mailboxes ranging in size from 300KB to 10GB. I've been researching for the best way to move these mailboxes over to their new home server, but I haven't found a solid answer. There are some potential solutions that I've come across such as exporting to PST files and then importing in the new location. Another suggestion has been standing up a dedicated server in that site and move the mailboxes over to that server and then backup the database and ship the backup tape over and use database portability to restore.

I'm reaching out to seek advise from those who have faced this same challenge and were able to overcome it. Thanks!

Any advise or comments welcome!
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bnditAsked:
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Manpreet SIngh KhatraSolutions Architect, Project LeadCommented:
Is Exchange 2007 a standard or enterprise ?
If you could state this info i can share the best advice for you ....
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Manpreet SIngh KhatraSolutions Architect, Project LeadCommented:
There is a big reason to ask for this as it can decide as to what would be the best advice as changes cannot be made every now and then .
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MesthaCommented:
Last time I did this I went for the simple solution - I picked the server up and moved it to the same location, then did move mailbox.

The server was backed up first to tape and then the tape stored safe in case something happened to the server which it was moved.

Another method would be to move the smaller mailboxes using move mailbox over a period of time, and then look for a solution for the larger mailboxes.

Simon.
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bnditAuthor Commented:
Sorry, Exchange 2007 is Enterprise for the mailbox roles and Standard for all others. As for the link between HQ and the remote site it is a 40MB DS3 ckt between the two.

Picking up the server is not an option in this case.
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MesthaCommented:
There is no easy way of moving them.
If you exmerge then you are looking at multiple files because of its 2gb limit. You can't move the database because cross version isn't incompatible.

Unless there is a compelling need to do it in a short space of time, i would move what you can, get the data down to something manageable.

Simon.
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bnditAuthor Commented:
No compelling reason to move them in a short amount of time...the concern is more disruption of email services for those mailboxes. Could you elaborate more on what you mean by getting the data down to something manageable?
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MesthaCommented:
There isn't much more I can say. You simply setup the mailboxes to move out of hours. The disruption to the users will be minimal. You basically want to move as much as you can so if you have to do something that involves moving databases around, backup/restore etc it puts less people at risk.

If you have 800 people and you can move a third of those with small mailboxes over a week or two, then that means a third of people are less at risk of a backup/restore method going wrong.

A 300k mailbox will not take very long to move at all.

Stop looking at it as a 250gb store to move, but the number of users. If you are concerned about disruption, move as much as you can online using move mailbox. Only one user is disrupted when the move process is doing its thing.

Simon.
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bnditAuthor Commented:
I see your point. Your suggestion sounds reasonable. I'm just curious....what if I restored (/disasterrecovery) the remote E2k3 server where the E2k7 mailboxes will be located and then move those mailboxes locally? Will that work? Risky?
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MesthaCommented:
DR is high risk. Once you start there is no going back. If the backup (whether it is tape, disk etc) is bad, then you are stuffed.

I would only contemplate DR if everything else has been exhausted. Given you have a fairly fast connection between the sites you can reduce the risk considerably by moving a significant number of those mailboxes.

Losing 10 users with 10gb mailboxes is much better than losing 300 users with 10mb mailboxes (although the 10 users whose email was lost may not agree).

Simon.
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bnditAuthor Commented:
Understood, even though I've successfully restored the remote mail server's db onto the e2k3 in HQ for a different purpose...

As one would've imagined the 10 users with 10GB mailboxes usually happen to be the visible people in the company.

Ok, I think you've given me enough information to move forward. Too bad there isn't a better way to do this...it's going to be tricky.
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Manpreet SIngh KhatraSolutions Architect, Project LeadCommented:
In case you have any queries do let us know ....
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bnditAuthor Commented:
Thanks
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