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How do I move an Exchange Server 5.5 on an NT4 PDC to a Win2k server in a different domain?

I need to move an Exchange Server 5.5 running on an NT4 PDC in domain X to a Win2k server in domain Z. Now, if I understand everything I've read, the easiest way to accomplish this is to:

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  1. Backup the entire PDC, stop the Exchange services, demote the PDC to a member server and decommission the domain.
  2. Add the NT4 server as a member server to the Win2k domain, recreate the Exchange service account and re-assign it to the ES services.
  3. From this point, can I use the Move Server Wizard to move Exchange 5.5 to the Win2k server (same organization but different site).

Will this work? Thank you!
This will not work. First, you have an NT4 PDC, which, unlike a Windows 2000 server, cannot change its role. You can neither demote an NT4 PDC to a member server, nor can you promote an NT4 member server to be a domain controller. You need to reinstall to change its role.

The first thing I would do is set up a lab with Windows 2000, Active Directory and everything else you'll have in your "domain Z." This includes populating it with migrated accounts. Then you can:

  1. Back up Exchange.
  2. Install Exchange on a member server in the AD domain.
  3. Restore the backup to this system.
  4. Run DS/IS consistency adjuster.
  5. Attempt to log on and access a mailbox.

Another way to do it is just have everyone export their mailboxes to PST files (assuming they are less than 2 GB in size). Then, you can attach them to a new mailbox in the "domain Z" and then import the contents of the PST file into the new mailbox. This will break single instance storage for these mailboxes, so this may or may not be a viable alternative for you.

Finally, as a last option, you may be able to use the Move Server Wizard with SP4 once you figure out how your domains are going to collapse. The key here is that you want to leave your current domains intact (in part because you cannot demote an NT4 DC and in part because you'll want to have them in case you need a back-off/rollback plan).

This was first published in January 2003

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