Moving Exchange Server 2010 from an Active Directory Site

In this blog we will be learning on how to move an Exchange Server 2010 from an Active Directory Site. The reason why we are sharing is because we have seen people just forklift the server from one Active Directory Site and connect them in another Active Directory Site. Most of the time it fails to start due to Topology Discovery Issues. Lets learn some best practices on how to move Exchange Server Safely with minimum downtime.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Thorough understanding of Active Directory Services.
  • Understanding Network and Network Services.


Two Active Directory Sites with Exchange Server Running on either one site or both sites. For testing purpose we have demonstrated the scenario with Exchange Server running on one Site. The scenario is intended for Companies who have their messaging servers few 100 Miles away from main sites.

Downtime is Required

Why Move Exchange Server?

Consolidating Messaging and other critical applications to one central site due to business requirements.


  • Active Directory System State Backup.
  • Ensure that all Mailbox and Public Folder databases are backed up and fully tested before moving the server.
  • Complete Network Details which includes IP addresses, Gateway, Switches Etc..

Lets Begin

To simplify the entire process we have divided them in three phases.

  1. Data Gathering
  2. Cleanup
  3. Final

Lets begin with 1st Phase which is data gathering.

Figure 1: Scenario

Figure 1 is a sample scenario. Different companies might have different scenarios.

Now login to Exchange Server and get some basic information as follows.

Open command prompt and type the below command.

Figure 2: Logon Server

In figure 2 Logon server helps us understand with which DC exchange Server is communicating.

Now we have to ensure that Active Directory Sites and Services are properly configured and they are in place. To do that type the below command from the same Exchange Server.

Figure 3: Site Information

In figure 3 Site2 is the site where Exchange Server is running.

Figure 4: DcList

In figure 4 we can see that we have 2 sites “Site1” and “Site2”.

Open event viewer and navigate to Application Logs and Look for the below event id 2080 under Application Log.

Figure 5: Event ID 2080

In figure 5 Event ID 2080 helps Exchange Administrators to understand the Active Directory Topology.


Now that we have the backup and the required information to move ahead. Lets move to 2nd Phase.

Login to Exchange Server and Shutdown the server and plan for movement.

Now go to Active Directory Sites and Services. Navigate to the Site and Select the DC. In our scenario it is DC2 in Site2. You can right click the DC and select Move.

Please remember doing so can cause replication problems due to following reason.

  • DNS will have the sites entries. Manual clean up is required.
  • Lot of Manual process is there to correct the communication between DC’s.
  • Exchange Server might have problems post movement.

To Avoid this as a best practice please check if the DC has any other services installed. If not, then go ahead and demote the DC gracefully. Amount of time required to Demote the DC is below an hour and if required promoting the same DC in other site also requires the same amount of time. All clean up is taken care by Active Directory itself.

Figure 6: NLtest from DC1 post cleanup

Now open Active Directory Sites and Services and Navigate to the location as shown below.

Figure 7: Site2

In figure 7 we can manually delete the Site Object since there is no DC’s in it (Safe).

Figure 8: NLTest from Site1

2nd Phase Completed


Now that we have cleaned up and moved the Exchange Server from Site1. Its time to move to the 3rd and Final Phase.

Figure 9: After Promoting the DC2 at Site1

Now its time to Connect the Exchange Server to the Network.

Please Note: Exchange Server IP Address should remain same as it was in previous site.

Figure 10: Exchange Powershell

Figure 11: Exchange Management Console

Figure 12: Event ID 2080

In figure 12 Event ID 2080 looks clean.

Figure 13: Site1

Final phase is completed.

Important points to remember.

  • Ensure that External DNS is able to communicate with New Site.
  • Client Access both internal and external should work.


The same scenario can also be used with multiple server setup. Logic remains same.

Hope it was helpful




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4 Responses to Moving Exchange Server 2010 from an Active Directory Site

  1. Nazeef says:

    Very informative…well explained!!

  2. A MALIK says:

    why do we need to demote the DC2 or move it to Site 1?? IS it not possible to just move the exchange server? It seems wrong to include this step in this article unless it is REQUIRED for some exchange reason which is not obvious to me.

  3. A MALIK says:

    Furthermore this seems to be dealing with destroying and AD site completely rather tahn just move an exchange server, otherwise how can IP address remain same when moving between sites. For anyone looking to move exchange to another site this article would be more confusing than informative.

  4. Sunder says:

    Thank you Malik for the valuable comments. The article is for consolidating the datacenters to one physical site or location. Gracefully demotion and promotion is always a best practices. Moving just like that is not a best practices. Please share your thoughts.