Ask the Expert

How to change a domain name without affecting Exchange

A new client is running Windows 2000 Server with Exchange 2000. They have an existing domain name, xxxxx.com, and due to some company changes want to change the domain name to something else, like yyyyy.com.

Their Exchange server is configured to send/receive e-mail directly and they are using the built-in Microsoft instant messaging and Outlook Web Access. I don't believe that the domain name can be changed on a Windows 2000 domain controller. What are my options to facilitate this client?

  1. Can I "add" a virtual SMTP server?
  2. Can I change their domain name to the new one that they want?
  3. What are the ramifications?
  4. Are there any documented procedures for making these changes?

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What you'll want to do is amend the Default Recipient Policy on the Exchange server to accept messages to yyyyy.com in addition to xxxxx.com. This is described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 268838 Configuring Exchange to receive mail from multiple domains.

Make sure you keep xxxxx.com addresses there so that you'll have backward compatibility and don't start bouncing messages addressed to the old addresses.

You should also read through Microsoft Knowledge Base article 822447 How to modify an SMTP e-mail address by using recipient policies, which explains the various options for auto-creation of e-mail addresses and display names.

Finally, if you're looking for details on how to force the changes you make to "apply now," and in order to better understand the inter-relationship between recipient policies and the "Recipient Update Service" (RUS), read Microsoft Knowledge Base article 319201, How to use recipient policies to control e-mail addresses in Exchange 2000.


Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.
Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Learning Center: Toolbox for Exchange administrators
  • Reference Center: Exchange Administration


  • This was first published in July 2005

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