Upgrading Small Business Server 2003 to Exchange 2007

For clients who have outgrown SBS 2003, or who just can’t wait any longer for Exchange 2007, migrate them to a new server that’s 64-bit. Microsoft has made a lot of changes with Exchange 2007. The biggest is a switch to only supporting a 64-bit version.

This means you need a 64-bit server operating system up and running before you can even think about installing Exchange 2007. The reliance on PowerShell also means you’ll need to be ready for Microsoft’s new server scripting environment; it gives you a flexible way of managing and controlling Exchange without using the server management GUI and there are some features you can only manage through PowerShell. Adding Exchange 2007 to an existing network is a mix of simple and complex tasks – mainly complicated by the need to install it on a new server (or at the very least install a new operating system).

Click here to see how to Set up Exchange Anti-Spam Features


Click here to see how to use the Exchange 2007 Management Shell


Click here to see how to get a SAN certificate for Exchange 2007

You could install Exchange 2007 on 64-bit Windows Server 2003 (either release works well: Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2003 R2), and you’d have very few problems. But if your clients are buying a new server, and want to take advantage of the latest hardware and processor features, we’d recommend installing on Windows Server 2008. This comes with a good set of 64-bit drivers, as well as improved management and reporting tools, and the ability to lock down and limit the features you install. Built-in support for Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualisation platform also means that it will be relatively easy to virtualise their Exchange 2007 system down the line – making it simpler to implement a disaster recovery system for email. A business can survive temporarily losing line of business applications, but it will always need to communicate with its customers.


Starting with fresh hardware is always a good idea when you’re setting up a new server – the latest multicore Intel Xeon servers from suppliers like HP are relatively cheap, and will also be ready for any future virtualisation moves. The latest motherboards also support eSATA connections to external hard drives, which can significantly reduce server backup times. Make sure you’ve specified plenty of memory, as the combination of Exchange 2007 and Windows Server 2008 will take as much memory as it can, and works better the more it has. Server memory isn’t that expensive, especially from suppliers like Crucial, so it’s a good idea to install at least 4GB of RAM. Many clients will be using Small Business Server 2003. Its single server model works well for organisations with up to 75 users, and the bundled Exchange 2003 is suitable for most purposes. As you get asked to support rich email on mobile devices, for stronger anti-spam tools, and if you want support for autoconfiguration of mail clients, Exchange 2007 is an important upgrade. But because SBS 2003 is a 32-bit operating system, it’s impossible to upgrade an existing server to Exchange 2007. Instead you’ll need to add a new 64-bit server to an existing SBS network, and migrate email from the existing server to the new Exchange 2007 machine, before shutting down and removing the SBS Exchange components.

Even if the SBS server is a 64-bit machine running a 32-bit OS, you still have to install a 64-bit OS to re-use it, making the migration more complicated. This will be the same when SBS 2008 finally comes out (currently promised for November); it’s 64-bit only, so you have to migrate rather than upgrading in place.

It’s not difficult to add additional servers to SBS. The only requirement is that SBS retains control of the Active Directory, and maintains the FSMO roles. Once a new server is in place you’ll be able to manage it from the existing SBS server, using familiar management tools. You can then slowly transition to using Windows Server 2008’s own management tools.

Adding a Windows Server 2008 to an SBS 2003 network
Start by installing Windows Server 2008 on the server you’re intending on using for mail. In our example we installed all the Exchange functionality on a single server – in practice you’ll probably want to separate out the Hub and Storage functions, and use a separate Edge server for mail traffic and user access to mail. There’s no problem with connecting to the network while you’re doing the install – Windows Server 2008 installs as a workgroup server – and you’ll automatically be delivered the latest drivers and the most up to date OS patches. You’ll also need to give the server an appropriate fixed IP address, as it’s going to become a key component of the network infrastructure.

Windows Server 2008 builds
on the role and feature-based install model introduced with Windows Server 2003 and enhanced in Windows Server 2003 R2. Make sure you use these tools to install Internet Information Server – as Exchange 2007 will use it for Outlook Web Access and Exchange ActiveSync. Exchange 2007 requires that servers have the PowerShell management scripting environment and the .NET framework. We’d also recommend installing Terminal Services as part of any Windows Server installation, as using Remote Desktop to access the new server and the existing SBS 2003 domain controller will let you handle much of the migration process from the comfort of your desk (even if that’s back at your office).

Once Windows Server 2008 has been installed, take out the install DVD and shut the server down. As you’re going to be adding a Windows Server 2008 machine to what’s really a Windows Server 2003 network, you need to upgrade the Active Directory schema on our SBS 2003 server. This will allow you to manage the Windows Server 2008 machine from the SBS 2003 machine. You may need to update your version of Remote Desktop to one that supports the latest versions of the RDP protocol.

Put the Windows Server 2008 DVD in your SBS 2003 machine’s DVD drive (a network accessible DVD drive is suitable, especially if access to any machine room is limited, and you’re using Remote Desktop to manage the server). Open a command line and change directory to SOURCES\ADPREP. You need to use ADPREP.EXE to update the Active Directory schema. Start by typing the following command to update the Active Directory forest:

-- click image to enlarge --

adprep.exe /forestprep

This will begin the process of updating the schema. Be prepared to wait some time, especially if you’re working with SBS 2003 rather than SBS 2003 R2. Once the forest schema has been updated you can update the domain schema. Type the following command:

adprep.exe /domainprep


You’re now ready to bring the new Windows Server 2008 machine into your existing domain. Turn on the server, and then log in as a local administrator. Again, you can use Remote Desktop to work with the server, so you don’t need to sit in the machine room.

Start by joining the server
to the existing SBS-managed domain. Once the server is part of the domain, you will to promote it from a member server to a domain controller. Launch DCPROMO using the Start menu search bar to find the program. Choose to add a domain controller to an existing domain. You’ll need to use the credentials of an existing domain administrator to start the process.

 -- click image to enlarge --

Make the server a Global Catalog server. If you’re going to be keeping the existing SBS 2003 system there’s no need to make the new server a DNS server. DCPROMO will then add the requisite Active Directory Domain Services to your Windows Server 2008 machine. This can take some time, especially if you’re working with a large SBS-managed network with more than 50 users. Once the DCPROMO process is complete you’ll need to restart the server. You can now log in as a domain administrator.

Roles and masters
Now you can start the process of installing Exchange 2007 on the new server. There’s one key issue that needs to be dealt with first. Exchange 2007 needs to install on a server that’s a Schema Master.

One of the limitations of SBS 2003 is that the SBS server needs to own all five of the FSMO roles. The Flexible Single Master Operations are key domain management tasks, and in a standard Active Directory implementation, these roles can be parcelled out across several servers. Microsoft’s restrictions on SBS can be overcome – as the SBS licence allows FSMO roles to be temporarily transferred to other servers for the purpose of server migration and major hardware upgrades. You can continue to run SBS for up to seven days (there is an option to install an update that extends this to 21 days) with the FSMO roles on other servers. Don’t let the migration drag on as after that point, the server will reboot every hour, until the roles are transferred back.

You’ll need to be logged in to your SBS server to move the Schema Master to the Windows Server 2008 machine. Start by registering SCHMMGMT.DLL. This allows you to use the Windows Schema Master management tools to transfer the Schema Master role to the Windows Server 2008 machine. Open a command line and type the following command:

regsvr32 schmmgmt.dll

You’ll next need to open the Windows Management Console. Once you’ve done this, by typing mmc at a command prompt or from the Run option on the start menu, you can load the Active Directory Schema management snap-in. From the File menu click Add/Remove Snap-in. This opens a dialog box where you can choose to add the appropriate tools. Choose Active Directory Schema. This will load the schema management tools, which you can use to move the Schema Master to a new machine.

In the Schema Manager console, right click on Active Directory Schema and then choose Change Domain Controller. You’ll see a list of available servers. Choose the new Windows Server 2008 machine, and then click Change to move the Schema Master role to your new Exchange machine. Right click Active Directory Schema again, and choose Operations Master. This allows you to make the new server the operations master for the FSMO role we’ve just transferred.

Now you can start the Exchange 2007 installation. Log on to the server, and load the Exchange 2007 DVD; using an Exchange 2007 SP1 DVD reduces the amount of time you’ll need to set aside for downloading and installing uploads. Choose the appropriate Exchange installation for your network needs – a typical install with Hub Transport, Client Access and Mailbox roles should be sufficient for most small networks. Once Exchange has installed, restart the Windows Server 2008 machine and then open the Exchange Management console to confirm that your install completed successfully.


 -- click image to enlarge --

You will now have added your new Exchange server to the existing SBS Exchange network. On the SBS server open the Exchange System Manager.


-- click image to enlarge --

Expand the Administrative Groups tab to see the available administrative groups. Your new server should have added itself as Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT). Do not move it out of this Administrative Group or the associated routing group, Exchange Routing Group (DWBGZMFD01QNBJR) – these are required to allow Exchange 2007 to interoperate with Exchange 2003. (As a side note, there’s definitely a sense of humour in the Exchange team at Microsoft, as the default administrative group and routing group names are both Caesar Ciphers of EXCHANGE12ROCKS).


If you’re planning to run the two servers together, you can now move the Schema Master FSMO role back to the SBS server; if you’re not, you now have seven days to finish your complete server migration before the reboots start. To move the role back use the Active Directory Schema MMC snap-in and change both Domain Controller and Operations Master to point to your SBS server.

Moving mailboxes
Now you can start to move mailboxes between the two servers. This is where things can start to take time, so schedule mailbox moves for evenings and weekends – and make sure that you’ve backed up all the existing mailboxes before you start the migration.


-- click image to enlarge --


You’ll also need to make sure that both servers have the same mailbox size limits – otherwise large mailboxes will fail to move successfully. If you’re unable to make moves at night, you can do them during working hours – but users will be unable to connect to the Exchange server while their mailboxes are being transferred (remember to warn them in advance). Any mail that’s been delivered to the server during a mailbox transfer will be queued and delivered once the mailbox is on the new server.

The actual process of moving mailboxes from the SBS Exchange 2003 server to Exchange 2007 is relatively simple. Log on to your Exchange 2007 server, and open the Exchange Management Console. Expand Recipient Configuration, and select the Mailbox view. This lets you see the organisation’s mailboxes, along with where they’re currently stored. A pane on the right gives you various Actions you can perform on the mailboxes. These include the Move Mailbox wizard.

This wizard is the simplest way of moving mailboxes between servers – and, along with the underlying move – Mailbox PowerShell commandlet, is the only supported way of moving mail to an Exchange 2007 server. If you’re moving a large set of mailboxes it’s worth writing a PowerShell script to handle the move for you.

Use the Move Mailbox wizard to move either an individual mailbox or groups of mailboxes (shift-click to select several at once). As the wizard is multi-threaded it can handle up to four mailbox moves at once. First select the target database, and then choose the move options. You can choose to abort the move if corrupted messages exist, as well as choosing the appropriate Active Directory servers. You can also schedule the moves for out of hours – so you don’t have to be on site for a move to take place – as well as making sure that any moves that haven’t taken place inside a set time limit are cancelled. The wizard will check mailbox quotas before making a move to make sure that the system limits allow the mailbox to transfer to a new server.

Once a move’s started you’ll see a progress bar showing the status of the move, with descriptive text for the current step in the move process. When a move completes there’s a summary screen with the results. There’s also an XML format report you can use for further analysis.

We found that a large 4GB mailbox took about 3 hours to move, over a gigabit network. In practice, most mailboxes are a lot smaller, so expect to be able to move many more SBS mailboxes in a single overnight session. Once the mailboxes have been moved, your Outlook users will automatically be switched to the new Exchange server. There’s no need to change anything on the desktop – the Exchange organisation will handle the changes for you. There’s one exception; if you have used a self-certified certificate for the SBS Exchange server, you may need to delete it from all client devices (including Windows Mobile) so they can connect – especially if you’re using the same external DNS name.

While Outlook handles the changes gracefully, things aren’t so easy for users working with ActiveSync connections to mobile devices or for secure IMAP and POP3 connections. Mobile users will need to perform a manual sync on their phone (they’ll get a message in ActiveSync reminding them to do this) and accept the server policies before mail will start arriving. POP3 and IMAP connections will only continue to work if you make sure that your new mail server has the same external CNAME as the old SBS install. If you’re not using the same DNS name, you’ll need to recreate connections for external mail clients.

Securing Exchange 2007
Microsoft has made a significant change to the way Exchange 2007 handles secure certificate-managed connections. In the past it was easy enough to use a single certificate for a single DNS name, and to self-certify a server. Now Exchange 2007 requires a SAN certificate to manage multiple names for the same server. Subject Alternative Name certificates let you store several names for the same server in a single certificate – so the same certificate can secure connections between mail servers inside a network, as well as securing client access to Outlook Web Access and Exchange ActiveSync and for remote Outlook users using RPC over HTTPS connections (now called Outlook Anywhere). While it’s still technically possible to self-certify an Exchange 2007 install, it’s a lot easier to purchase a certificate from a third-party. Shop around, though, as prices can vary considerably.

Once you’ve bought and installed a certificate, you’ll need to activate it on your Exchange server. Open the Exchange 2007 Management Shell and type the following command to add a certificate to IIS (for OWA, ActiveSync and Outlook Anywhere), POP3 and IMAP:


-- click image to enlarge --

enable-ExchangeCertificate –Services IIS, POP, IMAP

Once you set up the appropriate mappings in your site DNS, you should be able to access your new Exchange server securely from anywhere on the public Internet. Outlook Anywhere also includes tools for auto-configuring Outlook 2007 clients. You’ll need to make sure that the appropriate autoconfiguration DNS name has been set (both inside and outside your firewall), so that Outlook can automatically load the mail server settings.

The next step is to move your existing anti-spam settings from the SBS Exchange server to your new Exchange 2007 system (see sidebar for details). Once the server is secured, you can start migrating SMTP send and receive away from the SBS Exchange server.

Migrating mail send
and receive First add a new SMTP send connector to the Hub Transport. In the Action pane for the Hub Transport in the Exchange Management Console click on New Send Connector. This opens a Wizard that will help create a new SMTP connection. Give your connector a name, and choose an intended use.


-- click image to enlarge --

You’ll also need to define an address space that will be used for mail routing – use * to allow the SMTP client to bind to all the available IPv4 addresses used by your Exchange server. Mail can be sent directly to SMTP servers, or via an ISP-based smart host. If you’re working with a server in a DSL-connected office, use a smart host to reduce the risk of mail being classified as spam.

Test that mail can be sent to the new SMTP connection using another mail server in the local domain – one option is to use an SMTP mail server on your laptop, and applications like the free PostCast Server ( work well. Alternatively simply telnet to your server, making sure to connect to the SMTP server on TCP port 25. When connected, type EHLO to check for a working SMTP server.

You can now reroute SMTP connections from your old SBS server to the new Exchange 2007 machine. This will involve changing internal DNS settings, as well as any external IP address mappings. If you’re working with a NAT firewall, change the port mappings for SMTP to point to the new server. Once you’ve opened up your new server to the public Internet, use a service like Gmail to test if mail is being sent and delivered correctly.

Finishing up
Finally you need to move the Offline Address Book and any public folders you might be using. Switch back to the SBS server, and open Exchange System Manager. Expand the Servers section and choose the SBS Exchange server. In the public folders for each storage group, right click and choose Move All Replicas. This will take some time (depending on the inter-server replication schedule), and you may find that some folders will not copy to the new server. We found that the ExchangeV1 folder wouldn’t move between our test servers but it’s unnecessary in an Exchange 2007 environment and is safe to delete. You can now delete the public folder store from the SBS server’s storage group.

With the system public folder replicas moved, send the standard public folders to the new server. Create a new Public Folders container on the new server from the SBS server, and then drag the public folder tree from the Folders section of the SBS administrative group to the new server.

Once the public folders have been moved, move over the OAB. Switch back to the Exchange 2007 server, and in the Exchange Management Console go to the Organization Configuration section. Open Mailbox, and switch to the Offline Address Book tab. In the Actions pane choose Move, and select the new server as the host for the OAB. The wizard will then walk you through moving the OAB between servers.

You’re now finally ready to remove the routing connector between the two servers. On the SBS server, open the routing groups’ connectors folders for the two servers and delete the connectors that link the two servers. Once the connection has been severed, the two servers will no longer be routing mail between each other. Use Gmail or another Web mail service to make sure that the Exchange 2007 server is receiving and sending mail.

Now that all mail functions have been switched to Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2008 you can decommission the SBS Exchange server. On the SBS server, use Exchange’s System Manager to first remove the mailbox manager from Recipient Policy. Open up Recipients, and select Recipient Policies. Right click the policy, and delete any content from the mailbox manager settings. Switch to Recipient Update Services and delete the services that managed mail for your Active Directory domains. You won’t be able to delete the Enterprise Configuration service from System Manager; instead use ADSI Edit to edit the Active Directory configuration directly.


-- click image to enlarge --

 You can now uninstall Exchange from the SBS 2003 server, using the Change/Remove tools in the Add/Remove Programs control panel. If the SBS Exchange install includes the Intelligent Message Filter anti-spam tools you’ll need to make sure these are uninstalled first.

-- click image to enlarge --

Expect to take more than one day to complete this procedure, especially if you need to move a large number of mailboxes. A weekend will usually be sufficient, though be prepared to overrun – especially if there are any corrupted mailboxes on the original mail server.

Once Exchange has been removed from an SBS 2003 network you’re free to use the existing SBS server as a file and Active Directory server. However, it’s also possible to treat this as the first part of a migration away from SBS to a Windows Server 2008-based organisation. It’s an approach worth considering if your clients are running multi-site businesses that can take advantage of read-only domain controllers and BitLocker-based server encryption.



You had me at EHLO:
The Microsoft Exchange Team Blog -
There are lots of resources in here for anyone wanting to delve deep into the heart of Exchange 2007. The Exchange team go into detail to explain why decisions have been made, and to show you how to get the most from your mail server.

The Exchangepedia Blog -
A more tip-oriented site than the official blog, Exchangepedia shows you how to use the various Exchange features, as well as giving a useful start to anyone unfamiliar with PowerShell.




Show other articles by this author

Share |
Write comment
security image
smaller | bigger
Comments (10)
Posted: May, 19 2009
Does the 75 user limit apply still to exchange 2007 accounts since the SBS server is still in controll of the domain? Will users get rejected over 75?
Posted: Aug, 30 2009

Domain Trust question


I think this is a beautiful step-by-step guide.. Thanks. I have a questions though. I've done everything and my 2008 server works without problems. When I try yo create a domain trust with another domain in our organization I get the error that SBS 2003 domains cannot do that. Isn't it possible?
All the FSMO roles are on 2008 server...
Casey Hayes
Posted: Sep, 2 2009
This is a great article.

Here are a couple of notes from my experience (thus far):

2). If you are transitioning from a SBS 2k3 to 2k8 x64, you need to use adprep32.exe (which is found in same directory).

These may be trivial to some, however, I did scratch my head for about five (5) minutes.

Thanks again for a great article. I am in the process of completing the steps right now.
Nir Shiloni
Posted: Feb, 15 2010

Great article, so detailed!

Truly appreciated, and a wonderful step by step for dummies.
Way to go!
ankara nakliyat
Posted: Feb, 27 2010

ankara evden eve nakliyat

very nice article
ankara nakliyat
Posted: Feb, 27 2010

very nices article.

good article.
Chris B
Posted: Apr, 5 2010


Does this article work as well with Migrating from SBS 2003 to 2008 x64 with Exchange 2010?
Laz Smith
Posted: Jun, 22 2010
Is there a reason I can't stop this process after migrating some of the mailboxes to the new server? Do I need to migrate SMTP send and receive away from the SBS Exchange server?
And to repeat an earlier question, will this work the same way with Exchange 2010 on Server 2008?
Posted: Jul, 27 2010

Next step to migrate domain to w2k8

What are the next steps to migrate the domain to w2k8?? Transfer FSMO roles?? and then??
Posted: Jan, 25 2012
To echo the other comments here this is an excellent article and much easier than anything I have seen MS produce. Please could you confirm if this routine will work with Exchange 2010 though.

@Laz you could stop after migrating the mialboxes but then you would not be able to uninstall Exchange from the SBS box or decommission it which is the eventual goal for some readers.

@Kale If you want a complete migration guide then I would suggest you head over to



Subscribe and get the magazine in the post before it's online

Subscribe and get access to all of the back issues

To read a sample eMagazine - March 2010



advisor Got a client who wants to make their own Blu-ray discs and needs to know which office PCs they can check them on? (or is honest enough to say they want to watch movies on a plane?) Check what discs they can watch and whether advanced features will work with this Cyberlink utility. read more


Unified communications


The #1 Bestseller for Only 77p

Key resources

Login to view Key Resources