Archive for June, 2010

Migrating Exchange 2003 to 2007 mailboxes on the same server

Recently, I had the problem of needing to migrate my old high school’s Exchange 2003 mailboxes over to Exchange 2007. I had promised them that no mail would be lost, so wiping the server and just installing Exchange 2007 wasn’t an option. If the school had more servers, the process would have been pretty straightforward, as the 2007 server would slot into the existing Exchange organization, and I could have moved the mailboxes over. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so simple.

The school only has 2 servers, and only 1 of them is 64-bit capable. This was the server that had run Exchange 2003. The other server would just run Windows Server 2008 to do Active Directory, DHCP, DNS and so on. The decision was made not to do inplace upgrades, and we also chose to use a new clean internal domain name, thus clearing out all the cruft that had accumulated over the years.

Searching the net told me that Exchange 2007 SP1 could import and export PST files, which would be perfect for migrating the mailboxes over. I duly set up a management workstation with Windows 7 and Office 2007, as well as the Exchange management tools. Previously that week, I had extracted all the mailboxes from Exchange 2003 using the ExMerge tool. I now fired up the Exchange Management Shell, typed in the commands and expected to see results. Not so.

Every time I tried to import a PST file, I would get an error message. Being very generic, searching the net yielded only limited results. I tired all sorts of voodoo to get the import going, to no avail. I was getting desperate and running out of time, when I happened to stumble upon a solution. I had read that some people running Exchange 2010 were having similar problems exporting and importing PST files, and they had Outlook 2010 on those machines. That caused me to think for a moment.

On that hunch, I removed Outlook 2007 from the management workstation and installed Outlook 2003. Tried importing again, only to be told that I needed Service Pack 2 or above. Cue another large download of Office 2003 SP3. Eventually, after that was applied, I tried again. Eureka, all of a sudden mail was being imported successfully.

If my theory is right, then the problem relates to the Exchange-Outlook MAPI relationship. The mailboxes I extracted were on Exchange 2003, and ExMerge is a tool from that time frame. Outlook 2003 was the matching version. It seems that in order to import to Exchange 2007, you need the version of Outlook that matches the Exchange version you had. I haven’t yet tested this, but I assume that if you export from Exchange 2007, you need to have Outlook 2007 on the management workstation, as it the matching Outlook version to Exchange 2007.

The end result of all this toil is that the school now has a much more stable version of Exchange, with a stable Server 2008 base underneath. No longer will the mail store dismount as it hits the 18GB limit of Exchange 2003 Standard, and the mail system now should be able to last a good few years now.

Hopefully, this post can spare someone else developing a splitting headache and grey hairs trying to do the same thing I did.

Installing Windows Vista – Server 2008 R2 off of a flash drive

June 27, 2010 1 comment

During the course of last week, I had the task of installing Windows Server 2008 onto a server. Normally it’s easy enough to use the DVD and off you go, but this tale has a twist in it: the “DVD” drive in the server was actually a plain old CD-ROM drive, nothing more. While at first I thought it was simply struggling to read the Server DVD, later tests showed that it wouldn’t read any DVD at all, but would read CD’s fine. Go figure.

Investigating other methods to install Server revealed that I could use a USB flash drive to install the software, provided the server supports booting off of USB based devices. Luckily it did, and though it didn’t actually work for me, the bootable flash drive I made worked in another computer just fine. Your mileage may vary with this trick, but it should work on the majority of computers for installing Windows Vista and up. I would suggest using a speedy USB stick as well, as it is to your benefit. I suggest doing these steps on a Vista or above machine, as Diskpart on Windows XP didn’t pick up my flash drive.

  1. Open a command prompt. Type diskpart and hit enter. UAC may prompt you to elevate your rights, do so. A new command window should appear.
  2. Type list disk to find your flash drive. It will appear as a number.
  3. Type select disk <your flash drive from step 2>
  4. Type clean to wipe the flash drive. Optional step, but worth it.
  5. Type create partition primary to create the partition.
  6. Type select partition 1 to select the partition.
  7. Type active to make it active.
  8. Type format fs=fat32 so that it is formatted as FAT32.
  9. Type assign.
  10. Type exit to exit diskpart.

The last step to be done is to copy the actual install files onto the flash drive.

Type xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f e:\ into your command prompt, where D:\ is the DVD drive with the setup files, and E:\ your flash drive. D:\ can be substituted for a folder if you have the install files somewhere else.

With flash drives being so cheap, it’s easy enough to have one for each OS you want to install this way. Another sign that optical drives are on the decline I guess.

Testing Exchange Server connectivity

If you are fairly new to administering Exchange Servers, you’ll often wonder if you have configured all the connectivity options correctly. One way of checking this is to test things from both inside and outside your organisation, but sometimes you don’t have the necessary hard/software to do these tests. Enter a great solution provided by Microsoft: the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer

Test Exchange  Exchange Remote Connectivity tester

This tool will let you test things such as ActiveSync, Outlook Anywhere and so forth. All you need to do is use a valid user account, and point the tester to your server(s), and wait while it attempts to connect. If it isn’t successful, it shows a log of all the steps it took, along with the point where it failed. This makes it an excellent tool for troubleshooting.

Credit for this goes to a post on the forums, where I discovered this little gem. I don’t know if this works with Exchange 2003, but it definitely works with Exchange 2007 and 2010.