Boswell's Q&A

Weighty Decision in an Exchange/Windows Upgrade

Upgrading from Windows NT 4.0/Exchange 5.5 to Windows Server 2003/Exchange 2003? Simplify your decisionmaking and choose the ADC method.

Bill: I'm the engineer/administrator for a small, 10-person shop. We're running NT 4.0 (with the latest service packs, etc.) and Exchange 5.5. The "shop" is a non-profit organization and has little money. Our current implementation uses a single server which houses both the NT domain and the Exchange 5.5 database.

We want to move to Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition, but I'm told that you can longer use a single Windows 2000/2003 server to be both the domain controller and the Exchange 2000/2003 server. Is this true? If it is true, then we're forced to either shell out the dollars for two servers (one to host the domain and one to host Exchange) or go back to peer-to-peer networking.
Can you please comment?

Robin: You can indeed run Exchange 2000 or 2003 on a Windows 2000 domain controller. The problem will be getting from Point A to Point B. Here's one way to do it:

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Bring up a desktop-class machine running NT 4.0 and Exchange 5.5. Transfer all your mailboxes and connectors to the temp machine, then remove Exchange from the PDC. (Test that users can find the new server in Outlook. The most common cause for failure is a WINS configuration problem.)

Now do an in-place upgrade of the PDC to Windows Server 2003, which takes the content of the SAM and imports it into Active Directory. If this is an old machine, you might want to consider buying new hardware and doing a leapfrog upgrade. Install NT 4.0 on the new machine, make it a BDC, promote it to PDC, then do the in-place upgrade to Windows 2003.

Here's where life gets interesting. You have a couple of choices for setting
up your Exchange migration:

  • You can install the ADC on the new Windows 2003 DC, then sync recipient properties between the Exchange directory service and Active Directory then install Exchange 2003 on the Windows 2003 DC. (Whew, that's a BOA—Boatload of Acronyms!) Migrate mailboxes and connectors from the temp Exchange server, then decommission the temp machine.


  • You can install Exchange 2003 on the Windows 2003 DC and make a new organization, then spend an afternoon using Exmerge to dump everyone's mailbox to flat files and import the .PST files into the users' new mailboxes.

Frankly, both of these have their advantages. If you were me, I'd use the ADC method because Exchange 2003 makes it very simple to configure.

Hope this helps.
—Bill Boswell

In the "Small Correction Dept..."
In last week's column, I wrote that you could run a shared disk cluster on Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. This is not the case. You must have either Enterprise or Datacenter Edition to run a shared disk cluster.

Some of you caught it the error and quickly wrote back; the sentence has since been corrected. Sorry for the error.

About the Author

Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.

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