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Exchange Server 2016 Migration – Installing the First Exchange 2016 Mailbox Server

At this point in the series on migrating to Exchange Server 2016 we’re ready to install the first Exchange 2016 Mailbox server into the Not Real University organization. To prepare for the installation, Not Real University has installed a new Windows Server 2012 R2 server, named NREXCH16, and joined it to Active Directory. You can check the supportability matrix for the list of currently supported operating systems. The server has also been installed with the Exchange 2016 pre-requisites.

In addition, ReFS volumes have been configured to host the mailbox database and transaction log files. Databases will be hosted on a volume mounted as D: drive, and logs on a volume mounted as E: drive.

Not Real University will be deploying Exchange 2016 Cumulative Update 3, which is the latest build available at the time this is being written. For your own deployment, check the Exchange Server build numbers and release dates page to ensure you’re deploying the latest, supported build of Exchange. Note, you do not need to install Exchange 2016 RTM first. You can install the latest build directly.

When the new Exchange 2016 server is installed it will register an Autodiscover SCP in Active Directory that contains the new server’s fully-qualified domain name (FQDN). The server will also be installed with a self-signed certificate. Outlook clients that query Autodiscover may attempt to connect to the newly registered Autodiscover SCP, which will mean they attempt a connection to the new server’s FQDN over HTTPS, and encounter the self-signed certificate that they don’t trust and display a certificate warning to the end user.

To avoid this issue, there’s two approaches that you can take:

  1. Create an Exchange deployment site in Active Directory. Microsoft recommends this approach, and has documented it here. This approach works, but might not be suitable in some organizations that don’t allow Exchange administrators to make those types of Active Directory changes, or where such a change requires going through an approval process that would take too long.
  2. The alternative is to immediately change the Autodiscover SCP for the new server after Exchange setup completes. The SCP should be changed to the same value as the other Exchange servers in the site. This is the simplest approach, but there’s a window of time between the first SCP value being registered and when you’re able to change it that exposes clients to the risk of the certificate warning mentioned above. You can mitigate that risk by installing the server during a time when most users are not logged on.

For Not Real University, the simpler approach of changing the Autodiscover SCP immediately after installation is being used.

Installing Exchange Server 2016 into an existing Exchange environment requires the following administrative privileges:

  • Schema Admins group membership
  • Enterprise Admins group membership
  • For multi-domain AD forests, Domain Admins group membership for every domain where Exchange servers or mail-enabled recipients will exist
  • Organization Management group membership

To prepare Active Directory and then install Exchange 2016 follow the instructions here.

Immediately after the server has been installed, the Autodiscover SCP can be updated. After the SCP is updated, Outlook clients will not connect to the Exchange 2016 server because the Autodiscover URL resolves in DNS to the existing Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 server, or to a load-balancer that sends the traffic to the existing servers.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at configuring client access services for the newly install Exchange 2016 server.

Paul is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul is a co-author of Office 365 for IT Pros and several other books, and is also a Pluralsight author.
Category: Exchange Server


  1. Jim Slip says:

    Can You also make a guide for the AD deployment site? I used this but the document lacks a bit. You need a DC in the deployment site, luckily you can use an IP address in a current used subnet.

  2. Tomasz says:

    I’m upgrading single exchange 2010 environment to co-existance with 2016 and finally to two exchabge 2016 servers.
    By installing first 2016, I’ve made a mistake and installed exchange files to default folder on C drive.
    I want to uninstall server 2016 from new server and install it again on other drive, but the problem is I cannot uninstall.
    It will not let me uninstall, untill I have arbitration and auditlog mailboxes.
    Querstion is – how to get rid of them and delete default mailbox?
    I currently have exchabge 2010 in production only, but after installation of 2016 I have to move arbitration mailbox from 2016 to 2010 or is there a way to completly remove new installation of 2016 without affecting 2010?

    • You’ll have to either move or remove the mailboxes. Get-Mailbox has -Arbitration and -AuditLog switches you can use to get the mailboxes, and pipe that into a move request or remove the mailboxes entirely.

      Or just leave Exchange installed in the C: drive. I don’t really understand why people try to install it to different paths, to be honest.

      • Tomasz says:

        Thanks Paul,
        well, I’ve red a bit about it, and I think you’re right.
        I’ts true that many tutorials say to install on other drive, but it’s irrelevant if we do this on virtual server in the same SAN. It might even cause less problems if we install on one partition (extending drive etc.). I will only separate log and database drives.

        • I don’t know which tutorials are saying that. Microsoft certainly doesn’t recommend it. I think most people do it for arbitrary reasons that make them feel better about how they’re standardizing their server builds, rather than any solid benefit.

  3. Fred Pamintuan says:

    Hi Paul,

    First of all, thanks to all your Pluralsight videos they have been very helpful.
    I will be migrating from 2010 to 2016 with less than 800 mailboxes (total db 500GB), and the first server will be a physical server and eventually the second server will be virtual on the first site and the second site will be all virtual. I’m unsure with the volume requirements for this first server for it will be a stand alone for few months before adding a DAG. I currently have four databases on the 2010 that I will be migrating. Do I size up the partitions base on a stand alone server and have 8 different partitions for both db and logs, or should I just have two partitions and separate the logs and database and size up for co-location. Site resiliency will not happen most likely until one year.

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