Uninstalling Exchange 2003

For a couple weeks now I have had our new Exchange 2007 in production.  After finally weeding out the last few pieces of equipment that were pointed at the old server I started to try and uninstall Exchange 2003 off of it.  Of course my first attempt resulted in this error:

One or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server. These users must be moved  to a mailbox store on a different server or be mail disabled before uninstalling this server.

As suggested in the online articles I did the search through active directory users and computers and found two accounts that were pointed at the old mail server. Since they didn’t have mailboxes I just removed the attributes, reran setup to uninstall and:

One or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server. These users must be moved  to a mailbox store on a different server or be mail disabled before uninstalling this server.

I then found a different article that me do a more thorough job of making sure the public folders were moved over. I also disabled all the exchange services to see if anything failed on the Exchange 2007 server. It was then that I noticed that the server was generating errors when trying to compile the offline address book. I resolved that by forcing a rebuild with the ‘OAL post full if diff fails’ registry entry. Rerun setup:

One or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server. These users must be moved  to a mailbox store on a different server or be mail disabled before uninstalling this server.

Hmmm…most aggravating. Since I knew that everything was off I took some more drastic measures and removed the two information stores:

One or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server. These users must be moved  to a mailbox store on a different server or be mail disabled before uninstalling this server.

Okay. Since our site isn’t that large I decided to take a drastic step and performed a ‘remove exchange attributes’ in active directory users and computers for ALL users and groups that did not have an association of some sort with the new server (I added a column that gave the home exchange server so that I could sort properly and not accidentally nuke someone’s attributes). I immediately reran setup:

One or more users currently use a mailbox store on this server. These users must be moved  to a mailbox store on a different server or be mail disabled before uninstalling this server.

BUT! I keep forgetting that although I try to use the active directory replication monitor to force ‘syncs’, it rarely works properly with Exchange attributes. After waiting an hour or so I was able to uninstall Exchange 2003 successfully. Although I was quite upset with the server, I’m sorry to see it go now. I had to put a strong argument together to acquire the hardware and I had put years worth of time into it to keep it running smooth. Now it’s just a dark block in the rack that I have to pull out and recycle. Such is the life of anyone who works with computers, where the the object of their labor ‘exists’ only so far as someone cares to turn it on and use it.

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