In-Depth

Exchange 2000 Upgrade, Times Two

It took three separate attempts to finally upgrade my company to Exchange 2000—this after doing the upgrade in a lab environment and upgrading a pilot box with the IT department on it...

After extensive testing, we started the upgrade.

During the first upgrade attempt last November, I received an error message stating that there wasn’t enough space for the database to upgrade, despite the fact that I had about 25 percent free space available. Strangely, it gave me the option to continue anyway. I called tech support (which was no help, as they told me that they wouldn’t do it if they were me.) We decided to delete the information for some people who were no longer with the company, defrag the database and retry. No go. We quit at midnight.

In December we bought a new server, installed Exchange 2000, and moved the 20 people with the largest mailboxes off the first server and onto the new server.

Also in this issue:

 Get Active Directory Replication Right!
by Andrew Lindley

 Wireless Meets Mother Nature
by Justin Melot

 The Expiration Date That Did Us In
by Jeremy Dillinger

 Troubleshooting Under Pressure
by James D. Pollock

 Hard Drive Fall Down, Go Boom!
by Christopher M. Roscoe

(Back to introduction.)

In January, with plenty of free space on the server, I ran the upgrade. With no explanation, the upgrade died in the middle, leaving the database in an inconsistent state, and with some pieces upgraded to Exchange 2000 and others not. We had to completely uninstall Exchange, then restore the database. I got to work at 10 a.m. that day. We started the restore process at 7 p.m. I took a nap at 4 a.m. while the database was restoring. I got locked out of my office at 5 a.m. after going to the bathroom and had to explain my presence to a security guard I’d never seen before (who was finally convinced with, “It’s Friday. It’s 5 a.m. I’m not wearing any shoes. Why would I be here?”) I got home at 9 a.m. the following day—the first full day of Exchange fun.

Around this time, we started having problems with an application used by a team in our company. The application’s producer blamed our mixed-mode Exchange environment.

In February I decided to kill the “upgrade” process and move everyone off of the old server onto the new (much bigger) server. Because of the random application issue, we couldn’t leave until we were in native mode. Also during this time, we decided to upgrade another non-Microsoft application. I got to work again at 10 a.m. and we started the process at 7 p.m. We moved all the databases, uninstalled the former Exchange server, and switched to native mode at about 5 a.m. However, the other upgrade wasn’t going so smoothly. At 6 a.m., we had breakfast tacos. I got home at 10 a.m. the next day, yet another 24-hour shift.

None of us had a “fun, smooth” Exchange 2000 upgrade. One important lesson learned: Remember your badge when you go to the bathroom, because you probably don’t know the security guard who works at 5 a.m.

About the Author

Cynthia Balusek, MCSE, MCT, is a systems analyst for a software company. She swears everything worked wonderfully in testing.

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