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Exchange and Windows mixed mode upgrade best practices

Get tips on upgrading an Exchange Server and Windows mixed mode environment, including advice on running ForestPrep/DomainPrep and upgrading service packs.

We have a Windows 2000 domain running in mixed mode with two Windows NT 4.0 backup domain controllers (BDCs) at remote sites. All other remote sites authenticate at the corporate office. Outlook Web Access (OWA) is running on a front-end Windows 2000/Exchange 2000 server. Exchange 2000 is running on a back-end Windows 2000 server and is also running on a member server.

Here are my questions:

  1. Would we encounter any issues if we didn't upgrade the Windows NT 4.0 servers prior to upgrading the Exchange server?
  2. Is it recommended to upgrade the operating system (OS) on our Windows 2000 Active Directory (AD) server to Windows 2003 prior to upgrading the Exchange server?
  3. Since we have a single domain and a single forest, can I run the setup off the Exchange Server CD (on the Exchange server) to take care of ADPrep/ForestPrep/DomainPrep?
  4. Is it necessary to run Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) before going to Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2)?
The answers to your questions are numbered below.

  1. No, you shouldn't run into any problems. You can run Exchange 2003 in either mixed mode or native mode. For a great explanation of the differences between mixed mode and native mode, check out the Microsoft article "Description of mixed mode and native mode in Exchange 2000 Server and in Exchange Server 2003."
  2. Yes, it is suggested that you upgrade the OS prior to upgrading the Exchange server.
  3. Take a look at the Microsoft article "How to verify that ForestPrep and DomainPrep completed successfully in Exchange 2000 Server or Exchange Server 2003" to ensure that ForestPrep and DomainPrep run successfully during an Exchange installation.
  4. No, it is not required that you run Exchange 2003 SP1 before SP2. Microsoft states, "Service packs are cumulative, meaning they include the updates from all previous service packs. No earlier service pack is required to install the latest service pack. In either case, whether you have already installed Service Pack 1 (SP1) or have only the basic Exchange Server 2003 server software, the process to upgrade is the same. You need only install SP2." Check out Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2: Frequently asked questions for more information on this topic.

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

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Tip: Best practices for running ForestPrep and DomainPrep
  • Tip: Mixed mode vs. native mode: What's the difference?
  • Expert Advice: Migrate the domain controller first or Exchange?
  • Reference Center: Exchange Server migration advice
  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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