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We had our only domain controller suffer hardware failure and completely lost our Active Directory. After many days, we have AD reinstalled and are beginning reconstruction.

Our DC is server 2003 std. We have (had) an Exchange 2007 running on our network. Against "best practices" this server is also running other workloads. Since our "old" AD no longer exists, our Exchange services will not start. We also cannot run the "uninstall" procedure, as it routinely errors-out "cannot find Exchange server exchange.domain.com".

The prospect of even more downtime, offloading all data from this server, reinstalling from scratch, and reinstalling all of our other applications is too much for the IT team and management to bear. We are looking for a way to forcibly uninstall Exchange from the existing server so that we may reinstall it - or we are looking for a way to "repair" our Exchange installation for use with our new AD.

Thank you for any help.

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3 Answers

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tbh it sounds like in trying to save time/resources you are making it so akward that it will cost you far more than you saved. I hope that is a valuable lesson to not cut corners and also the importance of backups. Many an administrator before you including myself has learnt that the hard way.

You should have been able to restore your DC from backup at worst into a virtual machine on a server that does something else - but I take it you have no backups or you wouldn't be asking this.

Unfortunately I think the best answer is what you have already suggested of wiping it off and reinstalling windows and exchange. You do realise that your addresses, mailboxes, etc. are stored in AD and not exchange? So you are going to have to set them all up again anyway.

Messing around with the registry to get rid of it is really asking for trouble and just going to end up with an unstable system that you need to reinstall in the end. Better to get on and do it now than to waste a whole bunch of time trying to avoid it and then end up having to do it anyway.

I know that's probably not the answer you want to hear but I would be surprised if someone has a magic button solution that doesn't involve installing exchange anywhere.

Of course that is unless you have somewhere else to setup a VM and do the temp exchange install described which would be far less painful.

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We know "the right answer" to all these questions/problems. The problem lies with the density of management. Our proposed infrastructure would have included multiple DCs, Exchange, backup-to-disk, probably a SAN, and in a perfect world, a virtualized infrastructure. Management actually told us that the 4 days of downtime and the 60-70 hours of time to recover "isn't that bad" compared to the $75,000 it would have cost to properly implement. This is because everything worked flawlessly for more than 7 years (we migrated from Ex 2003 to 2007). Sad but true. –  orbistechnology Sep 10 '09 at 14:24
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There was a very similar question yesterday, and someone posted this link as an answer. I believe it fits your scenario.

http://www.msexchange.org/articles%5Ftutorials/exchange-server-2007/high-availability-recovery/generating-active-directory-accounts-exchange-database-part1.html

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Yes, we posted this as well, however, this article makes a huge gloss on "install a new Exchange server." We don't have the hardware to do this on another machine, and the one with the currently installed Exchange is running other workloads that, frankly, will likely take weeks to reload. I thank you for the diligence, but we are looking for a way (any way, supported or not) to remove an Exchange install when there is no Active Directory (there is, but a different one from the previous install). –  orbistechnology Sep 10 '09 at 13:20
    
Sorry, I thought it might help. Other than that I don't have any other assistance to offer. hopefully someone else here will chime in. –  joeqwerty Sep 10 '09 at 13:43
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If it is just hardware that is preventing you from installing a new Exchange Server, then perhaps you'd consider installing a new virtual machine on the existing hardware to run your new Exchange Server. That way, you could run it in that non-ideal setting (still better than not running at all, right?) and you can ultimately move the VM to its own hardware at a later date when you do have the hardware to run it separately.

You could also migrate the remains of the real machine (with the broken Exchange) to its own VM, and then at a later date, be able to move and/or scale those machines elsewhere. That way, you could still use the one physical machine, but have the two virtual machines configured more optimally for their respective applications. This, of course, is assuming that the existing machine has at least two or more CPUs... Based on the fact that everything was coexisting on the same hardware before, it clearly has enough RAM to support the configuration. This also gives the advantage that you could then manage the two VMs as though they were two separate machines.

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