XADM: Forklifting All Users to a New Server

This article was previously published under Q199954
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WARNING: This article contains information about an unsupported method of moving users and data. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of this method can be solved. Use this method at your own risk.

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure to back it up and make sure that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For information about how to back up, restore, and edit the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry
You may want to move all of the users from one Exchange Server computer to another, often during a hardware or software upgrade. If the server has a large number of users who have large mailboxes, the move may take an unusually long time if you use the Move Mailbox utility of the Exchange Server Administrator program in the usual manner.

You can "forklift" all of the user data at once, if you physically move the Priv.edb file from one server to another. This significantly reduces the time that it takes to accomplish the entire move. This procedure is useful only if you move the users to a new server that does not already have user data on it, because it destroys all of the mailbox data that is already on the destination server.

Do not use this method to move public folder data. This method requires server down time. Allow at least two hours, plus any time that you need to back up, restore, or otherwise physically move your mailbox data.
More information
This is not a supported method of moving users and data. Although it has been tested and successfully used in several Exchange Server version 5.0 and 5.5 production sites, the Move User utility in the Exchange Server Administrator program is the supported method for moving users from one server to another within the same site.

Advance Preparation

In the following instructions, the source server is the server on which the mailboxes are currently located. The destination server is the server where the mailboxes will ultimately reside.
  1. Join the destination server to the site, and make sure that it is functioning normally. Check that directory and public folder replication with other servers in the site works, that messages can be sent between this server and other servers, and so on.
  2. Back up all of the data on both of the servers before you begin this procedure. You may also want to practice this procedure in a lab environment before you perform it using production data. If this method does not work, you may need to completely reinstall Exchange Server on each server, restore your data, and then reconfigure all of your connectors.
  3. Remove all the replicas of all the public folders from the source server. Double-click the server's Public Information Store object, and in the Instances page, remove all of the folders that are listed in the right pane.

    If you cannot remove a folder because the source server contains the only replica, you must place a replica of that folder on another server in the site. Do not proceed until you have moved all of the public folder replicas to another server, and have verified that the data in the folders hasactually replicated.

    To verify that replication has occurred:

    1. Before you move the replicas from the source server, connect to the source server by using the Exchange Server Administrator program, and at the Public Folder Resources box, note the item counts and sizes for each replica on the server.
    2. After you move the replicas, connect to the destination servers by using the Exchange Server Administrator program and verify that the resource values match closely (they may not match exactly because of ongoing user changes to folder contents).
    NOTE: The best strategy to move public folders is to replicate the folders of the source server to the destination server.
  4. (Optional) Remove any connectors and transport stacks from the server, and then reconfigure them on other servers in the site if you still need them. If you want to completely remove the source server from service, carefully consider the implications for any other services that you may need to move, such as advanced security or third-party gateways.If this was the first server installed in the site, you must assign additional functions to other servers in the site before you remove the server completely. For additional information about moving the first server in the site, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    152959 XADM: How to Remove the First Exchange Server in a Site
  5. Create a distribution list that contains all of the users on the source server. If the source server is running Exchange Server version 5.0 or 5.5, you can simplify this task by creating an Address Book view that is grouped by the Home Server value. If you create the Address Book view, you can use it when you create the distribution list to quickly select only the source server's mailboxes.
  6. Schedule a service outage for the move procedure.

Move Database Procedures

  1. Stop and disable all of the Exchange Server services on both the source and destination servers, except for the system attendant, directory service, and information store. You do not need to empty all of the queues. If mail is backed up in any delivery or transfer queues, it can be delivered later, when the connector services are re-enabled.
  2. Note the Distinguished Name (DN) for the system attendant on both servers, and the DN of an administrative account of your choice. You need this information for step 3. To find these DNs:
    1. Start the Exchange Server Administrator program, and then view the Mailbox Resources page for each server.
    2. On the View menu, click Columns, and then click Full Mailbox Directory Name.
    3. Find the system attendant and one other mailbox account of your choice, and then note the full DN for both. A system attendant DN is usually displayed as follows:
      /o=organization name/ou=site name/cn=Configuration/cn=Servers/cn=server name/cn=Microsoft System Attendant
    You can also access the DN of any object using the Exchange Server Administrator program in raw mode. If you use this method, you can copy and paste the DN, rather than retyping it.

    WARNING: If you use the raw mode of the Exchange Server Administrator program (admin /r) incorrectly, serious problems may occur that may require you to reinstall Microsoft Windows NT Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, or both. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems that result from using raw mode incorrectly can be solved. Use raw mode at your own risk.

    NOTE: Only use raw mode to view properties, do not use it to edit them, unless you are fully aware of all of the ramifications of your changes. Editing properties in raw mode may render your Exchange Server computer incapable of functioning.

    To access the DN of an object in raw mode:

    1. Start the Exchange Server Administrator program in raw mode by typing the following at a command prompt:
      c:\exchsrvr\bin\admin /r
    2. View your object of interest. (To view the System Attendant object, click to expand the Site object, click to expand the Configuration object, click to expand the Servers object, and then click the Server name container.)
    3. On the File menu, click Raw Properties.
    4. Locate the Obj-Dist-Name attribute. This is the DN.
    5. You can copy this value to the clipboard, and then paste it into a text editor, or the Regedt32 utility that is used in step 3.
  3. At the source server, disable the user logon rights, except for the system attendant and one normal mailbox account. To disable the logon rights you must edit the registry.WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

    1. Start the Registry Editor utility (Regedt32.exe) and locate the following key:
    2. Create a new value. On the Edit menu, click Add Value. Configure the value as follows:
      Value Name: Logon Only As
      Type: REG_MULTI_SZ
      Data: Add the system attendant DN and your chosen administrative account DN (as noted in step 2). You can list the DNs of as many mailboxes as you want; separate each DN by pressing the ENTER key. Do not press the ENTER key at the end of the last line.
      If you leave the value blank, nobody, regardless of their Windows NT permissions, can log on to the information store as a client, even using the Exchange Server Administrator program. The Exchange Server Administrator program still runs, and can access most directory functions, but you receive error messages if you try to access information store functions such as the public folder tree or mailbox resources. You must allow the system attendant to log on so that the Exchange Server Administrator program can access the store.

      If the system attendant is listed in the Logon Only As registry value, the Exchange Server Administrator program can still access the information store. The ordinary mailbox account that you list in the value can still log on to the client and send mail to the group of all recipients on the server.
  4. At the source server, stop the information store, and then restart it to activate the Logon Only As registry value and to prevent users from logging back on to the server. This also commits any outstanding transaction logs to the Priv.edb file, and ensures that all of the mailbox data is safely in that single file.
  5. Stop the information store on both the source and destination servers. Verify that you shut down the information store on the source server cleanly by performing the following steps:
    1. Check the Windows NT Event Viewer application event log for any errors or warnings that were logged during the service shutdown.
    2. To verify that the Priv.edb file is in a consistent state, at a command prompt, run one of the following commands (depending on the version of Exchange Server that the source server is running):

      • For Exchange Server versions 4.0 and 5.0:
        exchsrvr\bin\edbutil /mh exchsrvr\mdbdata\priv.edb | more
      • For Exchange Server version 5.5:
        winnt\system32\eseutil /mh exchsrvr\mdbdata\priv.edb | more
      Using either command, you receive about two screens of output. Look for a line that reads:
      State: Consistent
      If the state is inconsistent, do not proceed. If the state is consistent, and there are no problems logged in the Event Viewer, the Priv.edb file contains all of the mailbox data.
  6. Back up the private information store from the source server. You can either copy the Priv.edb file to a safe location, or perform an Exchange Server online backup.

    If you want to transfer the private database by means of an online backup, restart the information store before you perform the online backup. Stop the information store service after the online backup finishes.

    To save time, you may want to begin to copy the Priv.edb file to the destination server at this point. If you do this, don't copy the file to the exchsrvr\Mdbdata folder, copy it to the root of the same logical drive where the Priv.edb file resides on the destination server so that you can quickly move the file into place when you need to.
  7. Move all the data from all the exchsrvr\Mdbdata folders on all the local drives on BOTH servers to a safe location, outside the exchsrvr folder trees.

    NOTE: Up to four Mdbdata folders may exist. Check all the local drives for the existence of an exchsrvr\Mdbdata folder, or verify the paths using the Exchange Server Administrator program, in the Database Paths page of the Server object properties.
  8. Restart the information store service on both servers. This creates empty mailbox and public folder data stores for both servers.
  9. Start a client application using the administrative account that you enabled in the Logon Only As registry value. Send a mail message that is similar to the following example to every mailbox on the server:
    Message:Your mailbox items are safe, but are unavailable right now. Please exit so that we can complete the move procedure. Your data will be available again after time. Any messages that you send during this session will not be delivered, and you cannot receive mail right now. Personal appointments or other items that you create in this session will be lost after the move. You may direct any questions to administrator name. Thank you for your patience.
  10. At the source server, re-enable the logon rights; delete the Logon Only As registry value. You must re-enable the logon rights to proceed to step 11. The message that you sent in step 9 prevents users from panicking if they open empty mailboxes.
  11. At the source server, start the Exchange Server Administrator program. Use the Move Mailbox utility to move all the users to the destination server. Because the mailboxes are virtually empty, the move finishes quickly.

    After the Move Mailbox utility finishes the move, click the source Server object, and then view the Recipients container. Click the destination Server object, and then view the Recipients container. It may be several minutes before the moved users are visible on the destination server. To speed up the process, open the Directory Service object properties for the destination server, and click Update Now (update only new and changed objects, not all objects).
  12. At the destination server, disable the logon rights (use steps 2 and 3, above), but make an exception for your administrative mailbox and the destination server system attendant.

    CAUTION: The administrative mailbox has the same DN on the destination server that it has on the source server, but the system attendant DN is different. Be sure that you have the correct system attendant DN.
  13. Stop the information store service on the destination server, and then restore the mailbox data from the source server. Choose one of the following restoration methods, based on the type of backup that you used in step 6:
    • If you made an online backup, restore only the information store files to the destination server, and then choose to either erase all the existing data, or turn off the no loss restore option (your backup software interface may implement this option in different ways).

      - or -
    • If you copied the Priv.edb file to the destination server, rename all the exchsrvr\Mdbdata folders on all the drives, and create empty Mdbdata folders to replace them. Copy the source Priv.edb file to the same Mdbdata folder where the Priv.edb file already existed on the destination server.
  14. Start the information store on the destination server. If you did not use the online backup method to transfer the Priv.edb file, you need to "patch" the database before it starts. This is a normal operation that synchronizes the directory with the information store. If you need to patch the database, an application event log error that states this is logged. To patch the database, at a command prompt, run the following command:
    exchsrvr\bin\isinteg.exe -patch
    At this point, make sure that both servers have the information store services running. It is important that you keep both servers running at least until all the clients have logged on once so that clients that attempt to connect to the old server can be automatically redirected to the new server.
  15. To verify that the procedure was successful:
    • Check the mailbox resources using the Exchange Server Administrator program. Make sure that the items and byte counts for mailboxes look typical.
    • Log on to your administrative client account, and then verify that your own previously existing mail is available.
  16. Re-enable the client logon rights at the destination server; delete the Logon Only As registry value from the registry, and then restart the information store. Start an online backup of the database at this time.
  17. Re-enable and restart the message transfer agent (MTA) and any connectors, and then test mail flow between the servers and the sites.


Messages that were in transit or queued on the source server are rerouted and delivered to users on the new server when you re-establish connections.

You do not need to move distribution lists or custom recipients. These objects belong to the site as a whole, not to a specific server, and so they are automatically replicated, and are available on all the servers.

You do not need to run a DS/IS consistency adjustment as part of this procedure.

Article ID: 199954 - Last Review: 10/26/2013 14:18:00 - Revision: 4.0

Microsoft Exchange Server 4.0 Standard Edition, Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0 Standard Edition, Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Standard Edition

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