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Thanks for reading!

I have a small network set up for a local office here, and have a fresh install of Exchange 2003 on our sole-server DC.

The network uses one domain, call it, which is DNSed locally, but not DNSed for the actual domain, so works from within the network, but from outside, it's just pointed to some domain parking.

I have a completely different domain, call it, which is currently setup for our website and email, which is hosted with a standard hosting company. We've been using a combination of Thunderbird and Outlook (with local .pst files) for email.

I've been asked to setup Exchange to work with our email, but am not familiar with it. The install seems to have gone just fine.

The question is:

How do I get email from a domain outside our network to work with the exchange server?

Do I need to move the email for that domain to point to our local server (I so hope not!), or can I just set exchange to somehow slurp mail from the existing mailboxes on our host for that domain's mail? Or are there better ideas I don't know to ask for?

Any help very appreciated - thanks!


It's Exchange 2003 Enterprise, on Win2k3 Standard Ed.

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Just a heads-up - There's no longer such a thing as a PDC, just a DC. – John Gardeniers Mar 13 '10 at 1:46

Stop what you're doing! Take some time to learn Exchange setup and administration. Ideally, you should set up a lab environment (virtual machines are great for this) and get to know the beast and what it will do, as where it will bite. The situation you are in right now will result in a high maintenance mess that you will regret. Only when you no longer need to ask such questions will you be ready to continue.

Exchange is a pretty complex piece of software that requires proper understanding if it's to work correctly and reliably. There are numerous specialist Exchange contractors who make a very good living just fixing systems that were set up by people who really weren't ready to do so.

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Hey don't put me out of business! :) – Jim B Mar 13 '10 at 2:49

it depends on what version of exchange you have. If its an SBS edition then there is a pop3 connector if you do not want to re-point it to your server. Otherwise you would need to buy a pop connector or repoint the mx record to your server (after configuring it to recieve mail for your email domain.

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Updated (and here are a few more characters) – Eli Mar 13 '10 at 1:40
so in your situation your options are to confgure exchange to recieve mail or buy a pop3 connector. – Jim B Mar 13 '10 at 2:51

2 issues to think about for inbound mail to your new Exchange server:

DNS MX records

DNS MX records are responsible for controlling where email for your domain goes. When other hosts on the internet need to send email to users at your domain, they will look for the MX records published for that domain and they will list one or more hosts that will accept that mail. To route the mail to you, you need only to setup a MX record that points at the hostname of your server and then need to have an accompanying A record for that hostname that points to the external IP address of your Exchange servers. That will divert the mail to your server. Note that once you make the change, you'll start to get some mail pretty quickly but some hosts on the internet won't see the DNS changes for as much as 48 hours so some mail will likely still trickle in to the old environment.You could reduce the impact of this effect by changing the TTL on your DNS to 5 minutes a couple days in advance but it sounds like you don't have that luxury.

You could do as others have suggested and "slurp" the mail from the old host to your new Exchange server via a POP connector but really, it's a bad hack and not one I'd recommend long term. At some point, it's better to point your MX to your own box.


There are two things to look at in Exchange. The first is that for Exchange to receive mail for a specific domain, that domain must be added to a recipient policy. Do that first. Second, you need to add the email addresses to the mailboxes you have created so that the users are enabled to receive mail in their mailboxes.

This is a high-level overview. You should read up on each of these components to learn more about them. I can't give you more detail without writing a book here. If you're really going to manage your own email server, you're going to have to learn about this stuff or you are putting your company's email at risk. Frankly, it doesn't sound like you're technically strong enough yet to host your own mail server. Knowing your limits is important! You can absolutely do it - just need to learn a bit more.

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