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Can I install an Exchange 2003 server on the same domain and subnet as an existing Exchange 2003 environment without it becoming part of the environment? Is that an option during the restore process?

The reason I want to do this is I want to try to restore some databases from netbackup to a server that is not part of the production environment. Will that work? I plan to put the netbackup client on this other server, so it still needs to be part of the network.

Reference Question: Test Restore of Exchange DBs ...

Or maybe just install it into the network but not on a machine that is part of a Domain, is a domain controller needed for exchange?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Some background first: Exchange 2003 stores the bulk of its configuration information in the Configuration partition of the Active Directory. As such, it can't be installed w/o a domain. Further, Exchange only allows for a single "Organization" per Active Directory forest.

If you just want to do test restores you have a couple of options:

  • Bring up a secondary Exchange Server computer and restore databases from your production server into a Recovery Storage Group on the secondary Exchange Server computer. This would test the ability to restore the backups to retrieve individual mailboxes. It doesn't test complete DR capabiltiy of the entire domain / Exchange infrastructure (since it assumes that the domain still exists), but a database that will restore into an RSG will restore into a "normal" storage group.

  • Put a DC from your current Active Directory and an Exchange Server computer into a "sandbox" network and restore onto them. You'll have to work out network connectivity because running them in the same subnet as existing DC's potentially will result in NetBIOS name resolution between them and inter-communication. This would be more of a disaster recovery test.

If you wanted to get really in-depth and test a "all the servers were destroyed and everything needs to be rebuilt" scenario, do the following:

  • In a sandbox network, perform a DR of a domain controller into a (virtual or physical) machine from your Netbackup backups. Remove replication connections and seize FSMO roles as necessary to end up with a machine that's a single domain controller holding all FSMO roles.

  • Perform a DR installation of Exchange (setup /disasterrecover) onto another machine in the sandbox. Name that machine the same name as the existing Exchange Server computer. Partition the disks the same, if possible, so that the databases lay in the same place as the production box.

  • Restore the Exchange databases from Netbackup onto the sandbox Exchange Server computer after marking all the databases on that server as being allowed to be overwritten by a restore (and don't create any RSG's).

If you can pull off that "oh, god, everything has been destroyed" backup / restore scenario then you've got good backups.

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Somebody has asked a similar question here . Seems to suggest that it can't be done without becoming part of the production environment. There are a couple of links to Microsoft on there on how to remove it from the environment should you choose to go ahead anyway.

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In the past you would need to backup your DC and exchange server, restore them to sperate servers or VMs (making sure not to let them see the normal ones on the network) and then restore your mailstore into it.

However in exchange 2003 you now have the recovery storage groups which allow you to mount your backup mailstore without interfering with the main one.

You can still do it the old fashioned way, it's just a lot more hassle. But depending on your needs it might be the way you need to go.

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