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Cannot remove broken Exchange 2010 server

Earlier in the year (for reasons unknown) our Exchange 2010 server decided that it would no longer start the Information Store service and load the mailbox database. Despite extensive research and posting questions here, I just could not get Exchange repaired or that IS service to start.

In the end one of my colleagues created a new VM with a fresh Exchange install on it and copied the database to it.  I'm now at a point where the broken server has been down for a month or two and the new one appears to be handling everything OK. I now want to remove Exchange from that old server, remove its database entries from the EMC and just get rid of the VM completely to free up some disk space.

Problems
1. I cannot fire up Setup in any way on the broken server in order to remove Exchange bit-by-bit or all in one go. Ditto for trying via Add/Remove Programs. The Exchange installer pops up a dialog telling me that Exchange is in an inconsistent state (oh really?) and Setup cannot continue. I read somewhere to try setup.com directly - same thing.

2. Looking at the EMC from the new server there are 2 database entries for the old server - the main 'Mailbox Database 12345678' one and a Public Folder database. EMC refuses to remove these. Trying to remove the old main DB gives this error which means nothing to me whatsoever -

This mailbox database contains one or more mailboxes, mailbox plans, archive mailboxes, or arbitration mailboxes. To get a list of all mailboxes in this database, run the command Get-Mailbox -Database <Database ID>. To get a list of all mailbox plans in this database, run the command Get-MailboxPlan. To get a list of archive mailboxes in this database, run the command Get-Mailbox -Database <Database ID> -Archive. To get a list of all arbitration mailboxes in this database, run the command Get-Mailbox -Database <Database ID> -Arbitration. To disable a non-arbitration mailbox so that you can delete the mailbox database, run the command Disable-Mailbox <Mailbox ID>. To disable an archive mailbox so you can delete the mailbox database, run the command Disable-Mailbox <Mailbox ID> -Archive. Arbitration mailboxes should be moved to another server; to do this, run the command New-MoveRequest <parameters>. If this is the last server in the organization, run the command Disable-Mailbox <Mailbox ID> -Arbitration -DisableLastArbitrationMailboxAllowed to disable the arbitration mailbox. Mailbox plans should be moved to another server; to do this, run the command Set-MailboxPlan <MailboxPlan ID> -Database <Database ID>.

When trying to remove the old Public Folder DB the error is a little less cryptic in that it states it can't contact that database on the old server - which won't run the IS service to load it of course, hence this problem in the first place!

I'm guessing that I will have to manually chop it out of AD and Exchange whilst being careful not to remove anything that will upset the remaining server.  

Any advice?

Thanks
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funasset
Asked:
funasset
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3 Solutions
 
AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
Yes, you need to use adsiedit tool to remove the old server. Steps are below
http://blog.dargel.at/2012/02/23/remove-legacy-exchange-server-using-adsi/

Important Note: Verify 3 times before you remove using adsiedit.
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funassetAuthor Commented:
Thanks for that. Sorry, what do you mean by verify 3 times?
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AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
Verify mean, check it 3 times what you are deleting via adsiedit tool. As you cannot undo it.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
I wouldn't go straight to ADSIEDIT. Instead I would wipe the machine, then rebuild it and do a recovery installation of Exchange. That will allow you to remove Exchange in the correct way.

The public folder database is the key thing, you need to remove that correctly by removing the server from the list of replicas.

Simon.
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funassetAuthor Commented:
Thanks - is there a special way to do a "recovery installation of Exchange" or do you mean just create a server with the same name as before, same Exchange settings etc ?
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
It is documented on TechNet on how to recover Exchange.
RESET the computer account (DO NOT DELETE it).
Install the same version of Windows, patch to the latest.
Install Exchange 2010 prerequisites.
Then install the same version of Exchange, from the command line, using the recoverserver switch.
If it was Exchange 2010 SP3, then use SP3 media to do the install.

Don't just do a regular installation of Exchange, as that will confuse things. The key bit is doing the install with the recover switch.

Simon.
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funassetAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I'll give that a go and if no joy I'll go the ADSI route.

To be continued.........
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funassetAuthor Commented:
In the end I had limited time so used the ADSI Edit method to remove the dead server, the databases associated with it and it's Exchange group memberships.

Nothing appears to have burst in to flames yet but I am getting the error below. How can I tell the MS Exchange Indexer to stop looking for a database that doesn't exist anymore?

Exchange Search Indexer failed to enable the Mailbox Database Mailbox Database 1978384527 (GUID = 63d8fc2f-6282-4c92-aed5-997bf07c8957) after 1 tries. The last failure was: MapiExceptionMdbOffline: Unable to Get Catalog State (hr=0x80004005, ec=1142)
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
You went against my advice, so I am dropping off the question. I never remove complete servers with adsiedit. Time is an infinite resource, trying to cut corners with Exchange rarely provides the time saving people think it will.

Simon.
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funassetAuthor Commented:
I'm sorry you feel that way but time is not infinite, not in my job. I was directed to take the method I used. I was given 2 responses and I have no way of knowing which is best - who's to say that your method wouldn't result in errors of some sort being logged after completion? The powers-that-be were concerned about the old server being recovered and maybe having an adverse effect on the working system. So please - don't get the hump with me.
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funassetAuthor Commented:
Is there anyone else out there who can advise on how to tell the Indexer not to look for a database that no longer exists so as to clear this error -

Exchange Search Indexer failed to enable the Mailbox Database Mailbox Database 1978384527 (GUID = 63d8fc2f-6282-4c92-aed5-997bf07c8957) after 1 tries. The last failure was: MapiExceptionMdbOffline: Unable to Get Catalog State (hr=0x80004005, ec=1142)

Thanks
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funassetAuthor Commented:
The ADSI Edit route appears to have worked OK. I'm sure the longer method would work equally well.
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