Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

1 x 2003 DC holding all FSMO roles
3 x 2008 DC
1 x Exchange 2003 Server

If an Exchange 2003 > 2010 migration fails in a way which can't be remedied quickly what's the best way to back out of the migration, returning to the previous Exchange 2003 only setup?

Since installing Exchange 2010 adds so many changes to Active Directory is creating Acronis or other backups of the Exchange 2003 server and the Domain Controllers before installing Exchange 2010 and restoring those if necessary the best way to back out of all the Exchange 2010 changes?

Thanks in advance.

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

A system state backup of your Schema master domain controller should give you decent options. This assumes that you aren't going to change anything in AD or Exchange with the exception of stuff that needs to be changed for the migration. I'm assuming this is a small environment. If it fails, restore your system state back to that DC. Also, if you can take any other DCs offline for the initial migration process, that'd probably be better as well (as long as your schema master is also a global catalog server). You should be able to tackle your major changes in the first day.

You're going to have to migrate eventually though. You might as well fix whatever problems you have now. I'm very doubtful that Microsoft will support 2003 migrations after 2010. If you just get it over with now, you'll have a few years before you'll have to worry about another forced migration.


Since you have a few DC's, I recommend just taking the Schema master off the network for the schema upgrade. If your schema master is on the 2003 server, move the role to a 2008 server, unplug it from the network, take a system state backup, do the schema upgrade. If that succeeds, plug it back in and let the other DCs replicate. All of your changes to AD after this can be reversed as necessary.

Another Edit:

The Schema master needs to be moved to a 2008 DC because the Exchange installler will not run on 2003. If you are going to isolate the Schema master for the purpose of ensuring the schema updates properly, you need to have that role on a server you can run the schema update from.

The reason I'm recommending that you isolate the Schema master is because this will stop a failed schema update from replicating to the other domain controllers. I've never seen a schema update fail, but if it did and the DC is isolated you can restore your system state and not worry about the faulty schema replicating. Once the schema is changed, it cannot be unchanged. If you don't have it isolated and it replicates a bad schema there's no way to undo that.

The schema update process does not need access to all DCs, only the Schema master. After the schema updates properly, plug the schema master back into the network to replicate. You then have access to all DCs (although I don't think you need access to all DCs in order to install Exchange. Just Schema master and a Global Catalog).

share|improve this answer
Why move the Schema Master role from 2003 to 2008 now? Why unplug the Schema Master from the network? Will the Exchange installation complain if all of the DC's aren't online? I could be remembering this wrong but I thought when I performed the Exchange 2010 install, in VMware ESXi on a new 2008 R2 VM, with a small set of converted virtual machines Exchange complained that it wasn't able to contact all of the DC's. I had only converted the one 2003 DC, not all of the DC's. I ended up removing the extra DC's from AD because I didn't want to convert all of them to VMs. Thanks. – caleban Aug 25 '10 at 21:21
The schema updates can be done to a running Exchange 2003 network, they will not break it. The upgrade process may (probably) change the AD account data; so be sure to have a backup of your AD file; worst case you can do a authoritative restore and get AD back to normal. Full, verified, recent backups of all the servers is a must to properly CYA. – Chris S Aug 25 '10 at 22:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.