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Migrating Home Mailboxes to another server

We are going to be upgrading our production exchange server to windows 2000 in the near future. This server homes our mailboxes. Unity runs on a separate box. <br><br>Can I move the homed mailboxes to the Unity Server without disrupting Unity?<br><br>I then want to reformat our original exchange box homing the mailboxes, install windows 2000 and exchange 5.5 in the existing site.<br><br>I then want to move the mailboxes back to the original exchange server....but now it is running windows 2000.<br><br>Will this plan disrupt Unity at all? I know I can upgrade NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, but I've been asked to do it this way.<br><br>


Re: Migrating Home Mailboxes to another server

Interesting plan. Yeah, installing Win2K from scratch is always a good idea if you can get away with it... if you surf the news groups out there you'll see lots of frustrated folks running into problems with standing upgrades of their NT 4.0 systems (you'll see the same thing, only worse, for Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2K upgrades when the times comes, but that's a different issue entirely...)

The short answer is, yes, you can do this. A couple of big gotchas you need to be very careful with.

1. You cannot move users to a different Exchange home store (on our box or off) while Unity is logged into their mailbox. In your case it sounds as though you'll be moving lots of users so I would strongly reccomend taking Unity off line, moving the users in Exchange, chilling out while Exchange slowly migrates all it's stuff around (this can take a while depending on the number of users and size of their mailboxes) and then bring Unity back up. You might not even bother bringing Unity back up if you're just using our box as a temporary data depository. And yes, also be sure all the Outlook clients are logged out before you do this... same exact problem. Exchange will actually have two seperate mailbox instances for the user if anyone (Unity, Outlook or anyone else) is logged into the mailbox you ask it to move. This can be very nasty and hard to clean up. There's no easy way to tell from the administrator if this is the case (it looks like there's a way to tell but it's not accurate and can't be trusted).

2. I'm not sure how long you plan to leave all the users homed on the Unity server... if it's just a temporary stop for a weekend while you upgrade and reinstall your servers and then you want to move them back, this should be cool. If you plan on leaving them there for a while and have Unity handling calls and users connection with Outlook to our Exchange server, this could be bad. The storage space might get maxed out if you're not careful and performance will definitely suffer with too many users being handled by the Exchange server on our store.

If you're only using the Unity server as a temporary stop, you should probably set our AVxxx services to disabled and leave Unity down for the duration of this process and only bring us up when you're all done moving users back to you fresh Win2K servers.

Just be very sure Exchange is done moving all it's info between the old store and Unity before you wax the original box. There's no easy way to tell when it's done and there's no way to force it to get a move-on and do it. It takes it's time and does everything in the background. You sorta have to manually watch the mailbox statistics in the Exchange administrator and see when everyone has all their stuff moved over... not ideal by any means. I've seen this take over night for large sites so plan ahead.

Jeff Lindborg
Unity Product Architect/Answer Monkey
Cisco Systems (new page for Unity support tools and scripts)

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