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Stopping all of Exchange Server 2010 services during Service Pack / Cumulative Update installation ?

Posted on 2015-02-02
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Last Modified: 2015-02-04
Folks,

To prevent email lost or data inconsistency during the Windows Update or SP / CU installation, do I have to stop all of the Exchange Server services before I run the updates or upgrade ?

I also wondering if I should change the MS Exchange Information Store service startup mode to Delayed Start from the default Automatic on all mailbox server to allow the server to be brought online safely after the patching reboot ?

Therefore if it is yes, then I can safely take VM snapshot on the mailbox server role to easy roll back if the updates causing some issue.

Source of my inspiration: http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/exchange-2010-on-vmware-support-and-licensing-guide.pdf

Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 250 total points
ID: 40583738
You do not need to stop services before patching.
You should definitely not use snapshots with exchange, under any circumstances.
There is no benefit, and a few drawbacks, to changing the defaults for the information store. If delayed start was better, it'd ship that way as default.
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by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 40583751
Cliff,
So how do I prevent email lost when rolling back the change using the snapshot ?

If the snapshot method is not allowed, then what's the other alternative for quick rollback or restore ?

Other than long painful whole VM restore from last night backup (~4 hours).
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VB ITS earned 250 total points
ID: 40583761
Hello again ITSystemEngineer.

Pretty much agree with Cliff on his points above. Only thing I want to add is that if you have Mailbox servers in a DAG setup then you'll want to use the StartDagServerMaintenance and StopDagServerMaintenance scripts that come with Exchange 2010 (SP1) to put your servers into maintenance mode to install the updates. It also reduces/prevents the loss of mail service while you make your upgrades.
See this article for more information: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee861125(v=exchg.141).aspx

With snapshots, that's definitely a big no-no. Have a read of this excerpt from the Exchange 2010 Virtualisation page:
Some hypervisors include features for taking snapshots of virtual machines. Virtual machine snapshots capture the state of a virtual machine while it's running. This feature enables you to take multiple snapshots of a virtual machine and then revert the virtual machine to any of the previous states by applying a snapshot to the virtual machine. However, virtual machine snapshots aren't application aware, and using them can have unintended and unexpected consequences for a server application that maintains state data, such as Exchange. As a result, making virtual machine snapshots of an Exchange guest virtual machine isn't supported.
More reading can be done here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj126252(v=exchg.141).aspx

As for setting the Information Store service to Delayed Start, that's only really necessary if the Exchange services don't start properly in the first place. No need to do this if you aren't seeing issues now with services not starting when your servers reboot.
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by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 40583779
No, I do see any issue but just in case.
Because I'm about to apply 118 patches and SP3 with CU 8 to this mailbox server so I don't want to risk it to failed to boot up of taking so long to boot up.
So what's the other option ?
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by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 250 total points
ID: 40583824
Don't install all patches at once. Do small groups. Start with a full real backup, and backup again after each batch. These are usual precautions when patching.
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by:VB ITS
VB ITS earned 250 total points
ID: 40583831
That's a lot of patches.. I would suggest you don't install them all at once. Backup, install a batch of updates, reboot, repeat.

EDIT: Cliff beat me to it!
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by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 40583873
Yeah I know this server hasn't been rebooted with total of 775 days up time in so far.
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