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Exchange 2010 setup error: Could not find domain controller

Did you receive an error message describing difficulty finding a domain controller during Exchange 2010 setup? Read the steps necessary to get around it.

Q: I’ve been trying to install Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 in my organization. I keep receiving the following...

error message during setup: “Problem encountered while validating the state of Active Directory – could not find a domain controller.” I can’t figure out what’s wrong, can you suggest anything?

A: Like many Exchange setup errors, there can be multiple causes. There’s no one thing you can do to “fix” this error, but there are several steps you can take to ensure that setup goes as expected:

1. Make certain that the account you are executing Setup with has the correct permissions required both to configure Exchange at a domain level and on the local server. If you are running Setup from the command line (setup.com), make sure that the CMD instance is “Run as” an administrator, even if the account is considered a local admin. If you are using “Setup.exe,” you should also run this “as the admin.”

When it comes to ensuring that your Exchange installation account has the correct permissions within your Active Directory infrastructure, follow the guidance issued in the TechNet article on preparing Active Directory and domains.

2. Make sure that all of your domain controllers are online and fully functional; there should not be any replication errors. Additionally, make sure that DNS is functioning correctly within your environment. This will ensure that the Exchange server you’re trying to run Setup from can resolve the FQDN of each relevant domain controller and vice versa.

3. If you are installing Exchange Server 2010 on a server in a child domain in a multi-site configuration, ensure that all domain controllers, global catalogs, DNS functions (as per above) are functional between the child and the parent. Also, ensure that the Schema Master FSMO role holder is online, available and resolvable from the child domain and site.

4. If you are installing Exchange Server 2010 in a multiple-site environment, make sure that the site you are running Setup in contains at least one domain controller that is also a global catalog.

5. If everything above checks out, check the Exchange Setup logs (C:\ ExchangeSetupLogs) and event logs on the Exchange server. They should give you further troubleshooting info that is specific to your environment.

Good luck!

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