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DC Dead - Need to recover from exchange server

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  • DC Dead - Need to recover from exchange server

    Hey guys, one of the networks that I now manage has had their domain controller die (HDD dead) with all attempts to recover unsuccessful Unfortunately previous management didn't keep backups, so there is no way for us to recover the domain controller (which was Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition).

    Exchange 2003 is set up on a separate machine (another Server 2003 Standard box), and was a member of the Domain and was used purely as an Exchange server.

    The problem I'm having is, when any outlook client (or even through outlook web access) logs onto the exchange server to check or retrieve mail, the username and password is not accepted which is expected since the domain controller is missing....

    We now have a new server/exchange system set up, but we need to retrieve our mailboxes from the old Exchange 2003 server... anyone have any ideas on how we can access these mailboxes without a domain controller to authenticate?

    I've tried searching for a solution for quite some time, but can't find anything!!

    Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!

  • #2
    Re: DC Dead - Need to recover from exchange server

    The only tool that comes to my mind would be something like Exchange recovery by Ontrack.

    Or you can try to setup something like an recovery environment, setup a new domain, install Exchange with the same org, administrative group and server name and run a normal recovery of the databases.


    • #3
      Re: DC Dead - Need to recover from exchange server

      Thank you so much for your reply FischFra, I will definitely look into the exchange recovery by Ontrack... although we have quite a limited budget so this may be out of the question..

      I am currently leaning towards setting up a recovery environment but just doing a bit more reading on whats required...

      With the recovery environment, am i safe to assume that i would set it up with the exact same details as the failed DC (eg. same server name, domain name etc...)? My apologies if the question seems dumb, i've never had to replace a failed domain controller (i always keep backups!)

      Also, once the dummy domain controller is up and running, how do i get the exchange server to recognise it? From what i have read, its not that simple...


      • #4
        Re: DC Dead - Need to recover from exchange server

        If the DC is dead, and it is the only DC available, then Exchange is dead as well.
        End of Story.

        You can build a new domain with the same name etc, but it isn't the same. Name means nothing.

        You would have to take the Exchange database files away, then rebuild the Exchange server from scratch. New installation, including prep etc. The server would need to have the same name, the same org name etc.

        You might be lucky then, and be able to mount the old database files in to a Recovery Storage Group. The data can then be extracted in to PST files. It is unlikely you will be able to extract it in to the new mailboxes because they are different.

        All user accounts, email address, permissions etc will have to be recreated.
        All of the old email will be there, but it will be impossible to just hit reply and send. The recipients will have to be replaced with fresh selections from the GAL.

        All workstations added to the domain, with new profiles.

        If you are working again by the end of the week, you will be lucky.

        Hopefully this will show why a backup and a second domain controller is strongly recommended.
        If the domain was intact, then recovery is a snap.

        Simon Butler
        Exchange MVP

        More Exchange Content:
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        In the UK? Hire me:

        Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.


        • #5
          Re: DC Dead - Need to recover from exchange server

          Thanks Sembee for your reply... i'm thinking i'm going to go for the option of finding recovery software that can extract the data out of the EDB files directly...

          The recovery storage group method is a little bit out of my league!!!

          Second domain controller and backups are usually a must for me, but unfortunately i only took over the IT for this place only very recently...

          Thanks again for all your help