With the release of Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1 organizations can begin to plan the upgrade of their existing Exchange 2013 servers.

Before proceeding I encourage you to review the release notes and if possible deploy SP1 first in a test lab environment where you can perform testing of any deployment or integration scenarios that are relevant to your unique environment.

Note: If you use a third party product that integrates with Transport you may experience issues with the Transport service not starting after Service Pack 1 upgrade. Microsoft has published a fix for this issue.

Deploying Service Pack 1 for Exchange Server 2013 is essentially the same process as any cumulative update deployment.

Note: After an upgrade to Exchange Server 2013 SP1 you may find that external mail flow is not working until the Frontend Transport Service is restarted.

First, you will need to remove any UM language packs that you have installed. From an elevated cmd prompt navigate to the folder where you have extracted the Exchange 2013 SP1 files and run setup with the /RemoveUMLanguagePack switch. For example, to remove the “de-DE” language pack:

C:Adminexchange2013sp1>setup.exe /RemoveUMLanguagePack:de-DE

Until new SP1-specific UM language packs have been released you can reinstall the CU3 language packs after the SP1 upgrade is complete.

Exchange Server 2013 SP1 includes a schema update and Active Directory changes. This will be applied automatically when you upgrade the first server, or you can manually apply it by running setup with the /PrepareSchema parameter for just the schema update first, or /PrepareAD to apply all the Active Directory changes in one step.

C:Adminexchange2013sp1>Setup.exe /PrepareAD /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms

Use Michael B Smith’s script to verify that the schema update applied successfully. The SP1 schema version is 15292.

When you’re ready to upgrade the servers themselves use setup with the /Mode:Upgrade switch.

C:Adminexchange2013sp1>setup.exe /mode:upgrade /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms

Remember to refer to the update procedures here for the order of upgrades for each server role as well as the preparation tasks for database availability group members.

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for Practical365.com.


  1. Ram

    Hi Paul
    I would like your expert opinions on the below.
    We have Exchange 2013 with no service packs (3 CAS servers and 2 Mail box)
    We would like to upgrade to CU 18 .
    The AD is on Windows2012 With domain functional level 2003.
    What type of upgrade path would you recommend?

  2. Hamid

    Hello every body
    Yesterday I tried to upgrade my exchange server 2013
    Name : EXCHANGE2
    Edition : Enterprise
    AdminDisplayVersion : Version 15.0 (Build 847.32)
    To Exchange Server 2013 CU16, but I receive error:
    “There was a problem accessing the registry on this computer. This may happen if the Remote Registry service isn’t running. It may also indicate a network problem or that the TCP/IP Netbios Helper service isn’t running.”
    1- I don’t have running firewall on my server 2012 R2
    2- .NET Framework is installed
    a. Version : 4.6.0159
    b. Release : 394806
    3- Both services Remote Registry and TCP/IP Netbios Helper is started
    4- File and printer sharing is active too

    Please guide me what should I do.

  3. Simtandile Mtubeli


    If theexchange 2013 SP1 is not working, is there a way to roll back to the previous exchange server 2013 install that was working?

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      The only way to roll back an Exchange 2013 update is to completely uninstall the server and then install the previous build. But that is not a good idea in your situation, because you’re already so far behind the current updates. It depends what you mean by “not working”, but upgrading to the latest CU (which is CU12) should be something you look at doing ASAP.

  4. Jack

    Hi Paul,
    I have 2 Exchange 2013 CU2 servers in 1 DAG, should I upgrade them to SP1 then CU7 or to CU7 directly ?

  5. ah147

    Sorry CU6

    1. ah147

      Dont Worry i solved it.,, flaky knowledge i think.. tiny pre-req missing. Powershell 2.0 engine. Installed that, performed an iis reset,. fired up EAC admin centre and voila!!! everything sprang too life…

  6. ah147

    installed exchange 2013 SP1 + added CU OS = WS2012. Greenfield site.

    Cannot get exchange 2013 to work out of the box . Always HTTP 500 Errors. Forms based authentication enabled, any suggestions on how to move forward with this. this is the third time ive dopne this with no luck. Never seen such a flaky version of this product? Please help i’m at my wits end here


  7. Hein Traag

    I understood from a microsoft MVP post (Jaap Wesselius) that Edge Transport is back in Exchange 2013 after installing SP1. Do you plan on rewriting parts of the Exchange 2013 instal path documenation to include this?

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Sure, I’ll probably write about Exchange 2013 Edge Transport in the near future.

  8. naim

    hi paul,

    I want to ask you something ..
    I want to upgrade my exchange server 2013 SP1, there are 1 CAS server and 2 mailbox servers with DAG, is there anything I should do before I upgraded to SP1 on a DAG member server ..? What will happen to the mail server and client when the upgrade process is running ..? is there a best step what i must to do first to upgrade..?

    many thx 🙂

  9. William Gardner

    Good evening Paul! Thanks for another great article. I have a 2013 RTM Exchange server that as of a week and a half ago fails to backup using Windows Server Backup. For 3+ Months backups ran fine. Obviously logs haven’t been flushed since the Exchange VSS Writer went into a Stable/Retryable Error.

    By my research this was an issue corrected first in CU1. Obviously my fear is updating to CU1, 2, 3, or SP1 will fail and I won’t have a recovery option.

    Exchange 2013 is a VM, Server 2012, on VMware 5.5.

    Do you have any advise? Do I CU3 the server or SP1 it and do a backup? I’m just not sure what to do and any recommendations will be hugely appreciated.

    Kind regards
    Bill <– One man IT department for 130 users, 300 + devices-Workstations, and 40 VMware hosts.
    BTW I've done 7 Exchange swing migrations over the last 16 years from 5.5 up, never had so many issues.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      The latest build is CU5, so I recommend you upgrade to CU5.

      If you aren’t willing to take the risk that the upgrade goes badly (which is a risk, but a small one in my opinion, though it can have a large impact in a single server environment like yours) then building a new CU5 server and migrating to it would be the safer approach.

      1. William Gardner

        Heavy work load + high stress = lack of creativity. Thank you Paul for filling that GAP.


        Thank you for such a quick response. I really didn’t expect one, period.

        Warm regards, Bill

  10. Alessandro

    Hi Paul,

    thanks for another great article.
    I’m currently administering an Exchange organization based on three EX2013 CU3 servers sitting on Windows Server 2012.
    My client here asked me to upgrade to Windows Server to 2012 R2.
    As we know, Exchange 2013 SP1 support Windows Server 2012 R2. Would you know if is supported the upgrade also? (First Upgrade EX2013 to SP1, then upgrade Windows Server 2012)
    Alternatively, what if I build three breand new Exchange servers, based on SP1 on Windows Server 2012 R2, integrate them in the organization, then dismiss the old ones?
    What’s your opinion ?



    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Upgrading the underlying operating system of an Exchange server is not supported.

      If your client wants WS2012R2 then the only choice is to deploy new servers and migrate across to them, then decommission the old ones.

      1. Alessandro

        Hi Paul,

        thanks for the answer.
        Just bumped into a problem here. I was installing the two brand-new Ex2013 SP1 servers, and it’s not possible make them member of the current DAG based on EX2013 – Win 2012.
        Apparently, it is a Windows limitation, where you cannot have different OS (Win 2012 and Win 2012R2) member of the same Failover Cluster.

        I’m thinking to build a separate DAG between the two new EX2013SP1 and after that migrate the databases from the “old” DAG to the new one.

        Would you think it would be possible, or I’m missing something here?

        Thanks for all the advices.



        1. Avatar photo
          Paul Cunningham

          All cluster members (ie DAG members) need to be running the same OS. So yes, that is normal that you can’t add WS2012R2 DAG members to an existing DAG on WS2012. A new DAG and mailbox migrations is the only way forward, if you really want to run WS2012R2.

        2. DFoli

          I am working on a plan to do the same thing. We have two Exchange 2013 cu3 servers on server 2012. We are going to stand up two new Exchange 2013 SP1 (latest cu) on server 2012 R2, in a new DAG. Is there anything that we need to watch out for? I know that there is a Schema change and that we will have to migrate the mailboxes, but I am new to standing up new Exchange servers and I want to make sure that I am not missing anything. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Alex

    Thank you very much.
    You helped :)))
    Alex from Moscow

  12. Bart

    Hi, Thanks for this wonderful article. When I tried to update an existing Exchange 2013 CU1 installation, the setup crashes (setup.exe has stopped working). In the command prompt I’m seeing: Unhandled Exception: System.IO.IOException: The directory is not empty.

    Not sure how to proceed. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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