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I have what I think is a quick easy question. I'd like to apply a service pack to my exchange 2007 mailbox server. I don't have a CCR setup, so its a pretty standard configuration. We do have it running on VMware and I plan on snapshotting it before the service pack is applied.

My question is, can certain aspects of exchange be disabled so that outlook can't connect to the mailbox server before I snapshot/update the server? I'd like to avoid any data loss if it can be done. For example, one idea I had was disabling the mailbox databases and then patching the server. However, I don't know if that can be done.

Another idea I had was patching the exchange server while the network is disconnected, but once again, I don't know if that would work either.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You've got a couple of options.

  • Do a full backup of all Mailbox Databases and start the upgrade ASAP after the backup (store this off the server you're upgrading!).
  • Stop (but don't disable) the Microsoft Exchage Information Store service, snapshot your machine and start the upgrade.

Of those options, the second will give you a consistent snapshot of your .edb files if you're doing a VM level snapshot. If you leave the Information Store service stopped and kick off the upgrade, that should effectively give you what you want.

I'd also leave the network connected when installing the Service Pack because IIRC some CRL checks are made, and these can take a long time to timeout if the network isn't connected, causing you an unnecessary delay during the upgrade.

The only thing I'd recommend is do it during "off" time, so an evening or preferably a weekend, just so you have some breathing space if anything goes wonky.

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Ok, so to be clear, there's no other way you can think of to mitigate any data loss? So piggy backing off what you said, for me an ideal situation would be pre-disabling the services and preventing them from starting automatically, this way the data is in a consistent state when I snap shot the server and when i start the patching so no new mail has been submitted outlook side after the snapshot until i confirm everything is ok. My concern is if something does bomb in the patching and I have to roll the snapshot back. I just want to make sure there's no way for outlook to connect. – Eric C. Singer Dec 30 '11 at 21:25
I will be disabling the CAS / HT severs, so nothing to worry about on that end, just for the staff that happen to be directly connected (via VPN) – Eric C. Singer Dec 30 '11 at 21:25
@EricC.Singer I actually slightly misinterpreted your original question, so I just made a quick update. Basically, yes if you pre-stop (I wouldn't disable) the services you should achieve what you want. – Ben Pilbrow Dec 30 '11 at 21:30
So just to clarify, can I not only stop the information store service, but also disable it (to prevent an auto start)? If so, that sounds perfect. This way once i kown the patches applied, I can fire up the stores. if the stores don't fire up, then it's not the end of the world as i can roll back to the snapshot. – Eric C. Singer Dec 30 '11 at 21:31
I don't know this for sure, but I imagine the Service Pack will not be happy if you disabled a critical service like the Information Store. It will automatically try to start services as soon as it's done, and if one is disabled I'm not sure how it will react to that. If you snapshot the machine while the services are stopped you should be OK, since if you need to revert to that snapshot they will still be stopped. – Ben Pilbrow Dec 30 '11 at 21:34

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