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Getting around Exchange 2013 Preview installation errors

Excited to dig into the Exchange 2013 Preview? You may encounter errors during installation; get around them with these instructions.

Now that the Exchange Server 2013 Preview is available for download, many IT pros are excited to install it and start poking around. Unfortunately, the Exchange 2013 Preview release can prove difficult to install. I encountered a few issues during my installation and you may as well; here’s how to get around them.

Exchange 2013 Preview install: Active Directory issues

When I first attempted to install the Exchange 2013 Preview, I began the installation process, then stepped out to run a few errands. When I returned, I found that the virtual machine had rebooted itself. I logged back in and didn’t see any Exchange-related messages, so I assumed the installation completed successfully. When I tried to open the Exchange Administration Center (EAC) however, I received an error message.

I got this error message because I forgot to prepare my Active Directory. The Exchange Server 2010 Setup wizard automatically performs both a forest and domain prep if you forget to do so ahead of time (assuming that you have the necessary permissions). This was not the case for Exchange 2013 Preview.

This brings up two important points. First, do not install the Exchange 2013 Preview on a server that is joined to a production domain. You don’t want beta software to modify your Active Directory. Besides, the Exchange 2013 Preview release is buggy and has no place in a production environment.

Another important point is that Microsoft updates the Setup wizard on a regular basis. Make sure to check for updates (Figure 1) before deploying the Exchange 2013 Preview.

Check for Setup updates before installing Exchange 2013 Preview.

Figure 1. Check for Setup updates before installing Exchange 2013 Preview.

Exchange 2013 Preview error message: Couldn’t attach the data folder

I also received another error message that stated that Setup couldn’t attach the data folder C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\Bin\Search\Ceres\HostController\Data (Figure 2).

I didn’t get an official explanation of this error from Microsoft, but my own observations led me to believe that the error occurs on systems with an AMD CPU after an attempt to restart a failed Setup.

Another Exchange 2013 Preview install error.

Figure 2. This is an example of another Exchange 2013 Preview installation error.

Even though Setup failed at the very end of the process, all the Exchange components seemed to be installed. In fact, all the Exchange-related services were running after Setup finished. The first clue that something was amiss was that the EAC generated a stream of errors.

Always remember that ADSIEdit bypasses all the safeguards found in tools like the Active Directory Users and Computers console. You can destroy your Active Directory if you make a mistake using ADSIEdit; just one more reason to only install the Exchange 2013 Preview in a lab environment.

To resolve this problem, I shut down all the Exchange-related services, then used the Control Panel to manually uninstall Exchange. Once that was done, I used ADSIEdit to remove references to the server from Active Directory. Specifically, I got rid of the OU=Microsoft Exchange Security Groups container, as well as the CN=Microsoft Exchange System Objects containers (Figure 3). Next, I removed the C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server and C:\ExchangeSetupLogs folders.

Use ADSIEdit to clean up a failed Exchange 2013 Preview install.

Figure 3. You can use ADSIEdit to clean up a failed Exchange 2013 Preview installation.

Exchange 2010 Preview: Post-installation errors

After I finally got the Exchange 2013 Preview installed, I encountered another error message in Internet Explorer when opening the EAC:

Could not load type 'Microsoft.Exchange.Management.Security.AdfsFederationAuthModule'.


An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

I got this error because Windows Identity Foundation was not installed. If you’re deploying Exchange 2013 on top of Windows Server 2012, simply install the Windows Identity Foundation feature, then reboot the server. If you’re installing Exchange 2013 onto Windows Server 2008 R2, download the Windows Identity Foundation from the Microsoft site.

Brien Posey is an eight-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien worked as a CIO at a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

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