Steps to clean AD to prepare for Exchange Server 2010

You need a clean Active Directory to deploy Exchange Server 2010. Follow these steps to remove Exchange Server 2007 remnants from AD before you begin the migration.

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Removing Exchange Server 2007 remnants from Active Directory can be tricky, especially since Microsoft doesn't officially support the manual removal of Exchange Server 2007. This tip outlines a few ways to do so.

How do you remove Exchange Server 2007 remnants from AD? You can use the ADSI Edit tool like you did to remove Exchange 2003 remnants, but I'd recommend using the information that still exists in AD to rebuild the old server. After doing so, you should be able to uninstall Exchange and remove any remnants from Active Directory.

To begin the process, install Windows and all of the Exchange 2007 prerequisite components onto a spare server. Then open the Active Directory Users and Computers console and reset the computer account for the server in question -- assuming that it still exists.

Next assign the spare server with the name of the server containing remnants you're trying to remove. Then join the spare server to the domain, insert the Exchange installation disk and run the following command:

Setup.exe /M:RecoverServer

This command will reinstall Exchange 2007 using the configuration data stored in AD. After the installation completes, use the Add/Remove Programs applet on your server's Control Panel to uninstall Exchange. Once Exchange has been removed from the spare server, you can remove the spare server from the domain. This should remove any trace of the server from Active Directory.

Keep in mind: This process will only work if Active Directory still contains the old server's computer account and all Exchange configuration data. If some of the necessary data is missing from Active Directory, you will have to use ADSI Edit.

Clean up mailbox server remnants

There are a few considerations when removing remnants of a mailbox server. Exchange Server won't let you to uninstall the mailbox server role if either the mailbox database or public folder database contain data.

If you're simply regenerating a server based on configuration data found in AD, there probably isn't any mailbox data. Depending on how your organization was configured, your server may contain public folders that are difficult to remove.

If you can't remove the mailbox server role because of the existence of public folders, you can use ADSI Edit to make the server think there are no public folders .

To remove the public folder references, navigate through ADSI Edit to:

Configuration
CN=Configuration, DC=<your domain>, DC=com
CN=Services
CN=Microsoft Exchange
CN=<your Exchange organization>
CN=Administrative Groups
CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)
CN=Servers
CN=<your server>
CN=Information Store
CN=<the storage group containing the public folders that need to be removed>

Right-click on the listing for the public folder store in the pane on the right hand side, then select Delete. Before verifying that you want to delete the object, make sure that the correct store is selected and choose Yes. You should be able to remove the mailbox server role.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

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This was first published in December 2009
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