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Best approaches for upgrading Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 or 2003

Discover the best approaches for upgrading from Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange 2000 or 2003, and products that can aid in the Exchange server restore process.

I need help with two issues. First, I have two domains, one external and one internal. Exchange 5.5 ("ProdCorp") and Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 are on the external domain. I am trying to replicate the Exchange Server data on a newly set up server (also on Windows 2000 SP4) on the internal domain (lab). The plan is to get the internal Exchange server ("TestCorp") to the same level (i.e., same size and data) as the other server, in order to test the in-place upgrade to Exchange 2000/Exchange 2003. What is the easiest way to do this?

I used an Exchange-aware backup program, but it will not restore on the TestCorp Exchange server, as some of the files can only be restored on the original server. I have also used directory backups (.CSV files), but with no luck. I could use some step-by-step instructions or white papers on this topic. I'm looking for a clear, menu-based and/or script-based solution. Please keep in mind that the TestCorp server cannot see the ProdCorp server. Also, the IP addresses and names of both Exchange servers are different.

Secondly, we have Exchange 5.5 running on dated hardware. We need to upgrade Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003, but we can't afford any downtime. What is the best approach for a successful Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 or 2003 upgrade with the least amount of downtime?

Your first question is addressed in the Microsoft article " How to recover a whole Exchange Server 5.5 computer using an online backup." If you run into difficulty using native processes to complete the restore, there are third-party products on the market that will assist you in this process, such as Quest Recovery Manager for Exchange. (disclaimer: I work for Quest).

As for your second question, there are two different approaches that you should consider:

  • The intra-organizational upgrade, which is primarily used to move mailboxes from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000.
  • A Greenfield approach requires you to put together your ideal Windows and Exchange environment, and then complete an inter-organizational migration.

I'm wondering why you are thinking about migrating to Exchange 2000, since Exchange 2003 is really the only option you should consider. Mainstream support for Exchange 5.5 ended on Dec. 31, 2003, and support for Exchange 2000 ended on Dec. 31, 2005. Even though you can purchase extended support for Exchange 2000, it would be better to go straight to Exchange 2003 or take the plunge and move to Exchange 2007. You may become the office hero with the knowledge worker enhancements that Exchange Server 2007 has to offer.

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Tip: Preparing for an Exchange 5.5 to 2003 mailbox migration
  • 11 tips in 11 minutes: Migrating from Exchange Server 5.5 to 2003
  • Reference Center: Exchange replication tips and resources
  • Reference Center: Exchange Server migration advice
  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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