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Which gets migrated first -- the domain controller or Exchange?

When upgrading to Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003, do you upgrade your domain controller or Exchange first? SearchExchange.com expert Peter terSteeg explains.

I currently have a Windows 2000 domain with Exchange 2000. I'm getting ready to upgrade to a Windows 2003 server with Exchange 2003. I'm wondering what to do first.

Since both Windows 2003 server and Exchange 2003 change the schema, which one goes first? Do I upgrade the domain controller first and have that write its schema changes, or do I upgrade Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003 first?

I've read some articles that say Exchange 2003 cannot operate in a Windows 2000 environment, so therefore you have to upgrade Exchange first. Yet, some articles say that you need at least one domain controller upgraded to 2003.

Can you please let me know what to do first, the domain controller or Exchange?

You must upgrade Exchange to 2003 first, and then upgrade the domain controllers. Here is a good article from Microsoft on this topic: Considerations when you upgrade to Exchange Server 2003.

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

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Expert Advice: Upgrading to Exchange 2003 before upgrading to a Windows 2003 domain
  • Learning Guide: Exchange migration
  • Tip: Preparing for an Exchange 2003 upgrade
  • Reference Center: Exchange migration advice
  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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