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Microsoft Exchange domain preparation error

I have an Exchange 5.5 server running on Windows NT 4. I've upgraded that machine to Windows advanced server, and everything works fine, including Exchange. I've built a brand new Windows 2003 box and want to put Exchange 2003 on it, and then migrate the mail. I've performed all the Exchange pre-install steps, but still cannot get passed one error. The component "Microsoft Exchange Domain Preparation" cannot be assigned the action "Install" because: -Setup encountered an error while trying to contact the Windows Active Directory.

The error was: -Failed to connect to the Schema Master server %servername%. Please verify that it is up, reachable, and that you have sufficient permissions to use it." MS article 822452. I've tried to perform all steps in that article, but without success. DCdiag.exe checks out with no errors. Can you help?
There are some general reasons why you might encounter this error: network connectivity issues, incorrect or missing DNS entries, or no DCs are available, to name a few. But since you said that DCDiag tests ran and passed without any errors, it is hard to believe that one of those could be the cause.

That said, it might not hurt to double-check a couple of settings. Specifically, make sure that the Exchange server has the appropriate settings for its TCP/IP stack, including the address(es) of your internal DNS server(s). In addition, you might want to configure the DNS settings on the Exchange server to automatically add the domain name suffix to its DNS requests. To do this:

1. Go into properties for the current network connection
2. Properties on Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)>Advanced>DNS
3. Choose 'Append these DNS suffixes (in order):' and press Add.
4. In the TCP/IP Domain Suffix box type in the domain name of the Schema Master (e.g. microsoft.com) and press Add.
5. Hit OK until all the network boxes are closed.

Then, try the install and see if Exchange Setup will complete now. If that still fails, have a look at the Exchange Server Setup Progress.log file, which will be located in the root of your primary drive on the Exchange server. That may provide additional details about the error, and it may provide an error code that can help troubleshoot this further.

Dig Deeper on Legacy Exchange Server versions

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