Our old 2003 mail server has died, and we are hastily setting up a new one based on Exchange 2010.

We looking for a way to recover the 2003 data into 2010, any idea if possible?


  • 3
    Have you considered briefly setting up Exchange 2003 in VM? – Zoredache Jan 25 '11 at 19:56
  • Problem that our AD is gone as well (same server...), so I guess we will need to re-create entirely all environment. – SyRenity Jan 25 '11 at 20:56
  • 1
    Not to be harsh but there's a lesson here. Once you've got things back to normal make sure to set up an additional DC and make sure you have an adequate backup solution in place. – joeqwerty Jan 25 '11 at 21:05
  • There is a back-up, question how to fastest mount it to some working server. – SyRenity Jan 25 '11 at 21:16
  • 1
    Does your backup include the System State? Is it a file level backup of Exchange? – joeqwerty Jan 25 '11 at 21:20

Edit: Woah there! You say you've lost your Active Directory. That changes things considerably. I would still look long and hard at restoring a System State Backup (if you've got one) because you'll get back your AD in the process (and won't have to rejoin all your client computers to the domain, deal with user profiles, etc).

If you can't get AD back then I'd proceed with a "dialtone" strategy-- building a new environment and importing the old mail later. I'd try like heck to get AD back, though, first.

Doing the "same domain name, same server name" won't work to get Exchange 2003 to mount the databases. It needs to be the same AD in order to perform a disaster recovery Exchange installation.

Why not just do an orderly disaster recovery of your Exchange 2003 environment and then an orderly upgrade to Exchange 2010? It seems like you're buying yourself years of future nightmares (with mismatched legacyExchangeDN values) by not just approaching this in an orderly, stable manner.

You can bring up another Exchange 2003 machine with the same computer name as the failed server (running Exchange 2003 "setup /DisasterRecovery" and "update /DisasterRecovery" on your applicable Exchange service pack) and then restore the database backups you have (or copy EDB and STM files over from the failed machine into the same drive-letter / path on the recovery server) and have Exchange 2003 back up and running ASAP and ready to migrate to E2K10.

Here's a link from Microsoft to help: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998965(EXCHG.65).aspx

If you've got the Active Directory that hosted the failed Exchange organization then really it's just a matter of:

  • Spin up a Windows Server 2003 machine (w/ service packs, etc) with the same computer name as the failed server computer
  • Partition the disks to allow the same drive letter / path that the current STM / EDB files are stored in to be accessible (not required but makes life easier)
  • Install Exchange 2003 in "/DisasterRecovery" mode
  • Apply the same Exchange service packs and hot fixes (in "/DisasterRecovery" mode for service packs, as well) to the new Exchange 2003 machine
  • Copy in the EDB / STM files from the failed Exchange installation (the entire "mdbdata" folder, if you were storing everything together) or restore your last backup to the new server

Whine: It puzzles me why people act rashly during a crisis and make a bigger mess than they already have.

  • 1
    Hear, Hear. "We've got an emergency situation so let's complicate that by trying to upgrade the failed system and restore the data". When presented with a crisis, it's difficult not to knee jerk a response especially when the business is breathing down your back but the best approach is that of a fireman: remain calm, assess the situation, implement the appropriate response as quickly as possible and keep the gawkers behind the tape. There may be moaning and gnashing of teeth from the user/management community but it does no good to go off half-cocked trying to resolve the situation. – joeqwerty Jan 25 '11 at 20:58
  • If I establish same domain and server name, will a simple file copy do the trick? The new Exchange will find the files and start from them? – SyRenity Jan 25 '11 at 21:16
  • Thanks for the through response, we did have system state and Exchange in a back-up, but luckily the repair Windows 2003 feature worked (a pleasant surprise!). Now we in midst of migrating to 2008 R2 / 2010 setup, which will be done by the book this time. – SyRenity Jan 27 '11 at 21:49

You can not just recover the database. There are options though.

If you have the budget, invest in Ontrack PowerControls. Use that software to dump PSTs out from your database. Then use the import-mailbox cmdlet in Exchange to import those PSTs back into 2010.

If you don't have the budget, you're just going to have to invest the time recovering your Exchange 2003 environment. Once that's up again, you can exmerge out PSTs or just do mailbox migrations to your 2010 server.

  • 1
    +1 for Ontrack. We used that when we were on 2003 and it works a treat. – sysadmin1138 Jan 25 '11 at 20:11
  • I'd +1 you but I think your emphasis (on the OnTrack tool) is in the wrong place. The time to recover the Exchange 2003 environment, assuming the OP still has their Active Directory, is really pretty minimal. – Evan Anderson Jan 25 '11 at 20:39
  • @Evan - I was thinking quickest solution as I know the pressure management can put on IT when email is not working. An Exchange 2003 recovery would absolutely be the best thing to do from a technical standpoint. Sometimes business trumps technical. Having working email NOW may be seen as better than having a totally clean Exchange environment LATER. – Jason Berg Jan 25 '11 at 20:47
  • @Jason Berg: I'm just thinking that, what w/ all the Exchange configuration still sitting in the AD, that the quickest path back to functionality just happens to be the same as the most technically desirable. Building up an E2K10 environment, configuring everything, and having to migrate all the old email into that environment seems to me like it would take longer than just running an Exchange 2003 disaster recovery and taking advantage of all the configuration information preserved in the AD. – Evan Anderson Jan 25 '11 at 20:55
  • 2
    @user13323 - Well, if AD is gone (and you don't have a backup) then you don't have much of an option. Check out PowerControls. Next time, be better prepared for a disaster like this. 2 DCs and a good disaster recovery plan. – Jason Berg Jan 25 '11 at 22:04

There is no direct import or restore that i'm aware of. The database structure is completely different. You will need to ExMerge the mailboxes into the new server.

More on ExMerge if you aren't familiar.

EDIT: I just found a question on here that is similar, its for moving from 2003 to 2007, but the answer is the same.


When I upgraded my environment to Exchange 2007 I needed all new backup agents because the ones we were using for 2003 simply wouldn't work. Microsoft changed the backup methods, so the backup vendors had to adjust. I would be deeply, deeply surprised if your backup product could restore 2003 data to a 2007 Recovery Group.

I know it's a pain, but Zoredache has the right idea. Setting up a fresh 2003 environment to accept the restore and doing Mailbox Moves from 2003 to 2010 is your best bet.

  • Close re: @Zoredache's suggestion. It shouldn't be a "clean" environment, but rather an Exchange disaster recovery scenario. Fairly painless, actually. – Evan Anderson Jan 25 '11 at 20:40
  • Can this be set on single server, both with Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003? – SyRenity Jan 25 '11 at 20:58

If you want to tranfer data direct from an older EDB like Exchange 2003 to a Production 2010 server without the need to do the PST shuffle, check out Lucid8's DigiScope http://www.lucid8.com/product/digiscope.asp since it can do exactly what you are looking for and cost are reasonable. If you want to do this via a free option then Zoredache has the right idea. Setting up a fresh 2003 environment to accept the restore and doing Mailbox Moves from 2003 to 2010 is your best bet.

protected by Community Aug 9 '15 at 9:58

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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