I am in the process of transitioning to exchange 2010.

The current exchange server is as follows Server 2003 R2 Exchange 2003 SP2 Active Directory

I would like to be able to reuse the server name for so many reasons but I must format server 2003 R2 and reinstall Server 2008 R2 as a fresh instal. This server will no longer be a DC after the transition if that makes a difference.

Is it possible to keep the same server name? I can accept if that is not possible but just need a concrete answer. Some documentation on the subject is also appreciated. Info on areas I may need to clean up the old server name prior to reinstalling Server 2008 R2 is paramount.


On an Exchange server, adding or removing AD will have some seriously negative effects on Exchange itself. (In the future, NEVER install AD on an Exchange box.) See here for info on why

If you are dead set on keeping Exchange on the same hostname, you are in for a good project that will probably require some additional servers, be they physical or virtual to move some things around while you take the necessary steps to migrate away from Server & Exchange 2003.

-Bring up another DC if you dont have one and transfer all FSMO rules to it.

-Image your server in case things go tits up.

This is where things get a little heavy.

-Setup a new Server 2008 box w/ Exchange 2010 and migrate your mailboxes there.

-Test your new environment and make sure clients can send/receive

-Uninstall Exchange on the old box, and demote it, and dis-join from domain. Once it is offline, remove the computer account from AD on the other DC

-Format your old server, giving it the same name it used to have. install Server 2008 and Exchange 2010

-Migrate mailboxes from the temp Exchange box over to your newly created one.

  • @DanBig I deleted my comment about removing from AD. I don't want anyone to mess up their Exchange server... – beatgammit Apr 5 '11 at 20:11
  • I was AGAINST the AD on the exchange box... :( I cry a little inside every time I have to run the reboot script to get the server to reboot in a timely manor... another admin did this against my wishes when I was not in one day. I am completing your exact outlined steps as that is how MS reccomends to complete the transition tinyurl.com/68rx3pt I have a VM setup already with Exchange 2010 running in the organization. In the process of looking into the actual mailbox move and then the reformat of the new machine. Though I am looking for exact info pertaining to retaining the old server name – Campo Apr 5 '11 at 20:18
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    @Campo, i added some steps for you – DanBig Apr 5 '11 at 20:20
  • Thanks! are you sure I should not leave the domain and rejoin the default workgroup prior to powering off the machine for the final time? – Campo Apr 5 '11 at 20:39
  • @Campo, yes, i forgot that step, it's now added above. – DanBig Apr 5 '11 at 20:43

It can be done. You need to make sure of a couple of things:

  • Remove any FSMO roles from the server if it holds any
  • Make sure to allow for full replication once you have demoted it from its role as a domain controller.
  • Make sure to drop it cleanly from the domain then re-add once you have rebuilt.

The real key is making sure sufficient time has passed once it is dropped from the domain to allow for all the other DNS servers to update. Otherwise, you should be fine.

  • Great! Just a few comments 1. ALL FSMO roles were transferred 1 month ago. I will confirm prior to decommission. 2. Yes, full replication can be verified with repadmin? 3. Can you please outline or provide the link for cleanly dropping a server from a domain. This is after demoting it as a dc? Thank you for the speedy response! – Campo Apr 5 '11 at 20:07
  • You cannot just demote an Exchange server, even if you have transferred roles. Please do not post incorrect info. – DanBig Apr 5 '11 at 20:11
  • @DanBig I feel that goes without saying. I understand the concept of properly decommissioning an exchange box. I was inquiring as to after exchange has been gracefully removed. and the server gracefully demoted as a DC what are the proper steps to remove a member server from the domain entirely. essentially clearing its FQDN from DNS among other areas of the AD... – Campo Apr 5 '11 at 20:31
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    @Campo, sorry, that was meant for Andrew, i felt the answer was lacking, in that it didn't cover the core questions asked. – DanBig Apr 5 '11 at 20:35
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    Campo...I was assuming you would be removing the Exchange server role first. Of course doing anything AD related to a machine that is running exchange is risky and inadvisable. After you run dcpromo to demote the server you can simply drop the server into a workgroup. If you do drop it into a work group make sure you remember the local administrator password in case you need to log into it again. – Andrew Rice Apr 5 '11 at 20:42

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