In-place upgrade of Exchange 2003

tutorial Learn the basics of successfully performing a simple in-place upgrade to this popular groupware application.

With the release of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 quickly approaching, it's time for administrators to start thinking about the upgrade. Since Exchange 2000's release in October 2000, around 130 million client licenses have been sold. This means that while some organizations are still running Exchange 5.5, many have Exchange 2000 running in their environments. Since the vast majority of U.S. companies are small businesses, it goes without saying that there are numerous single server installations of Exchange 2000 in place. For these environments, e-mail migrations do not have to be complex, time consuming, or prohibitively expensive.

Microsoft has now documented six months of prerelease Exchange 2003 testing with customers, two years of testing on themselves, focus groups, and customer visits, and all signs point to Exchange Server 2003 being a high quality upgrade of the world's most popular groupware application. This is enough to give some administrators the confidence to pop their Exchange 2003 CD into their production server and roll through the upgrade with minimal planning. For administrators operating a single server installation of Exchange 2000, this Daily Feature provides the basics to successfully perform a simple in-place upgrade to Exchange 2003.

Exchange 2003 prerequisites
Chances are that your existing hardware currently running Exchange 2000 is more than adequate for running Exchange 2003. Not much has changed in the hardware requirements of the two platforms. Of course, I could spout off the minimum requirements that Microsoft sets for Exchange 2003, such as a 166 MHz processor and 256 MB of memory, but again, your current Exchange 2000 system likely exceeds the required and even recommended hardware configurations.

If you are upgrading from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003, a physical server running Exchange 2000 should be upgraded to Exchange 2003 before upgrading the operating system to Windows Server 2003. This is the approved upgrade path supported by Microsoft. In addition, Exchange 2000 Enterprise Edition can only be upgraded to Exchange 2003 Enterprise Edition. Attempts to upgrade from Exchange 2000 Enterprise Edition to Exchange 2003 Standard Edition will yield an error message.

Additional prerequisites include:

  • Permissions to update the Schema
  • Windows 2000 SP3 (or Windows 2003) applied to all DCs, GC, and Exchange 2000 servers
  • Exchange 2000 SP3 applied
  • Exchange 2000 switched to Native Mode
  • Check any Exchange-aware third-party applications, such as antivirus and backup products, to ensure they are supported in Exchange 2003.

Exchange 2003 upgrade preparation
Here is the lowdown on system preparation for a single Exchange 2000 server upgrade to Exchange 2003.

  • Make good backups! Take a backup of your databases and ensure that it can be mounted on a standby server. If your in-place upgrade fails, you may need to reinstall Exchange 2000 with SP3 and restore from backup.
  • Several features of Exchange 2000, such as instant messaging, chat, and Key Management Service, are no longer supported in Exchange 2003. These components will need to be removed prior to the upgrade. If your organization requires one of these components, you may be faced with purchasing additional Microsoft or third-party products.
  • Manually stop the services of third-party applications and close all Exchange-related MMC applications, such as ESM and Active Directory Users and Computers, which may be a source of setup and upgrade failures. Keep in mind that setup will not overwrite files if they are locked.
  • Exchange 2003 setup stops all core Exchange services and periphery services that may hold Exchange files open; however, stopping these services manually beforehand ensures setup will not fail if it cannot gracefully stop them.

Exchange 2003 upgrade process
The actual Exchange upgrade process is identical to the steps involved in the installation of Exchange 2000. There are essentially three primary steps to the actual upgrade process (if you do not include popping in the Exchange 2003 CD as a step).

  1. Run ForestPrep (\setup\i386\setup.exe /forestprep from the Exchange 2003 CD) to extend the Active Directory schema for Exchange 2003. Ensure the account you use has Enterprise Administrator, Schema Administrator, Domain Administrator, and local machine administrator rights.
  2. Run DomainpPrep (\setup\i386\setup.exe /domainprep from the Exchange 2003 CD) to prepare the domain for Exchange 2003. Ensure the account you use has Domain Administrator and local machine administrator rights.
  3. Upgrade the server to Exchange 2003 (\setup\i386\setup.exe from the Exchange 2003 CD) by running Exchange Setup. Ensure the account you use has Full Administrator rights at the organizational level of Exchange as well as local machine administrator rights.

Once Exchange Setup completes successfully, if you are prompted to reboot, you should do so immediately. Even if you are not prompted for a reboot, you may wish to do so anyway. It is better to discover problems with a reboot now than to wait until your next scheduled (or unscheduled) restart.

Verify that all Exchange services have started correctly, and that users can connect to their mailboxes.

After the upgrade
Check the event logs for error messages. Assuming that this is the only server in your site, your new system can be changed from mixed mode (coexistence with pre-Exchange 2000 servers) to Native mode to take advantage of all the features offered by Native operation. To do this, go into the properties for the site and click Change Mode (see Figure A).

Figure A: Properties for the site

The default send/receive message size and maximum item size limit on public folder stores is now 10240 KB. This default setting applies to upgrades from Exchange 2000 in which no default size was set. If a default size is already specified for the organization, the existing setting is preserved.

Also, administering Exchange 2003 features using Exchange 2000 System Manager is not recommended or supported (it works both ways--certain Exchange 2000 features cannot be managed with the new Exchange 2003 Management Tools either).

Information stores from the upgraded Exchange 2003 server cannot be mounted on an Exchange 2000 server. Be sure to perform a backup of your new database and ensure that it can be mounted on a test restore server.

Don't forget to take a look at the new Outlook Web Access (OWA) interface (see Figure B), which alone could provide justification for the upgrade, if your company relies heavily on OWA.

Figure B: The new Outlook Web Access (OWA) interface

Of course, the intention here is not to take away from the importance of reviewing, training, testing, and developing a project plan for the migration to Exchange 2003 from Exchange 2000.

Microsoft provides many resources, toolkits, deployment guides, and technical papers for those administrators in charge of maintaining complex Exchange organizations. However, organizations operating a single server installation of Exchange 2000 can use the basic information provided in this article to successfully perform a quick and simple in-place upgrade to Exchange 2003.

This article first appeared in TechRepublic's TechProGuild section.