Saturday, January 29, 2011

How to survive installing Exchange 2010 SP1

In recent years Microsoft, in my opinion, has generally gotten better at putting out service packs that don't cause massive failures. So I was a bit surprised when I saw how many people were having problems with the latest Exchange 2010 service pack. I actually put it off for an extra month after reading some of the forum posts. But this week I revisited it and was able to deploy SP1 on my exchange servers without any hitches.

My usual process for getting ready for an upgrade is to read every forum and blog post about it I can find and to start looking for patterns of what people are running and where they're running into issues. The most useful site I used this time was:
After all, no better place to start than a blog run by Microsoft Dev's.

I wasn't very pleased to find that only 1 of the pre-requisite patches I needed was a general release. The others were all what most of us would call beta or pre-release patches but MS swears up and down these have been fully testing and vetted. (Overall still not much comfort when you're installing them on your production servers.)
For my Windows 2008 R2 x64 servers I installed:
979744 - (watch out for an error that pops up for some people who have multiple iis bindings.)

And then I installed the Microsoft Filter Pack 2.0 which was recommended on another forum. Then I rebooted and took a backup of the server.

Then just prior to installing the patch, I stopped these services as recommended in this post:

Exchange Transport Service
System Attendant
Information Store

I also turned off my antivirus program and symantec spam filter.

I then extracted the SP1 patch and then ran setup on my CAS server as a user that had rights to update the domain schema and crossed my fingers. I was pleasantly surprised when it completed without any errors and tested it out to make sure it was working alright.

Then a couple of days later I went ahead and updated the Hub Transport/Mailbox server using the same procedure. So far everything's working fine. Next I'll work on converting my Managed Folder policies to the newer Retention Tag system.

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