Slow Shutdown of Exchange 2003 Server Installed on DC

Posted on by Daniel Petri in Exchange Server

Exchange 2003 on a Domain Controller


"Why does my Exchange 2003 server take 10 minutes or more to shutdown" and other problems

It seems that most users that install Exchange Server 2003 on a Windows Server 2003 machine that is also configured as a Domain Controller may experience a slow shutdown when they try to reboot/shutdown the server.

This is because the Active Directory related services shut down before the Exchange services, thus causing the Exchange services to fail repeatedly while looking for the DS. Exact and detailed explanations for this behavior and restrictions can be found in the KB articles listed below.

Note: Although installing Exchange on a server that is also a DC is possible, changing the server status while Exchange is already installed is NOT supported by Microsoft. For an example, if you demote a DC with Exchange Server install to a member server, the DS2MB service (which copies Active Directory data from A/D to the IIS metabase) stops working throughout an Exchange organization. Although some of these issues CAN be fixed, un-knowing administrators might ruin their configurations and as stated before – they will not be supported by Microsoft.

There are 2 known solutions for this problem (besides listening to me and NOT installing Exchange on a DC in the first place…). One is to change the timeout for a failed service to shutdown itself, and the second is to manually stop the Exchange services BEFORE shutting down the server.

Method #1: Services kill timeout

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Run Regedit and navigate to

  1. The default value of WaitToKillServiceTimeout is set to 600000. Change it to 20000.

  2. Exit the registry editor and reboot the server.

Note: Changing the WaitToKillServiceTimeout value may have some undesired effects on other services, use this method at your own risk.

Method #2: Manually stop Exchange related services – my choice

The best choice is to manually shutdown the Exchange related services before trying to shutdown or reboot the server. You can do so manually by going to the Services snap-in in the Administrative Tools menu and stopping the specific Exchange related services, or doing so from the CMD:

Alternatively, you could use the following script (Original script written by Yizhar Hurwitz – thanks!):

Download Script to Shutdown / Reboot Exchange 2003 on a DC (2kb)

Double-click the installation file, it will copy the script to a folder on your server and create a shortcut on the Quick Launch toolbar. Whenever you want to shutdown or reboot your server, click on the shortcut icon.


Faster reboot on Exchange Server 2003 servers that are also Domain Controllers – 555526

Exchange Server 2003 and Domain Controllers – A Summary

Overview of Operating System and Active Directory Requirements for Exchange Server 2003 – 822179

Exchange Server 2003 Computer Takes Longer Than You Expect to Shut Down – 829361

DCPROMO does not retain permissions on some IIS folders – 332097

Exchange Considerations for Promoting a Domain Controller to a Global Catalog Server – 304403

Exchange Server-Related Considerations for Demoting a Global Catalog Server to a Domain Controller – 305065

Global catalog server placement and ratios in an Exchange 2000 Server organization or in an Exchange Server 2003 organization – 875427

Exchange Server 2003 and Domain Controllers – A Summary


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