Having Trouble Uninstalling Exchange...

I've seen the problem I'm about to describe on the Exchange newsgroups a few times, and I've just been having an email conversation with someone who's had the same problem, so I thought it about time to blog this snippet.

Basically, you may find yourself in the situation one day where you need to decomission an Exchange server. OK, so you move all the mailboxes and public folders off of this server onto a new server and then run the setup program to remove the installation. However, you're greeted with the error detailed in MSKB 279202:

One or more users currently use this mailbox store. These users must be moved to a different mailbox store or be mail disabled before deleting this store.

ID no: c1034a7f
Exchange System Manager

So where are these users? You've moved all of them off this server. The person I was talking with followed the remaining instructions in 279202, which go on to show you how to use LDP to view the remaining mailboxes on the server. The problem was that the result of the LDP output showed that there were only 2 system mailboxes left on the server, which can be ignored.

A good way to try to find these missing users is to use good old Active Directory Users and Computers. Here's what to do:

1. Run ADUC.
2. Right-click your domain at the top, and choose Find.
3. Click the Advanced tab, and then choose User from the Field button.
4. From the list of attributes displayed, choose Exchange Home Server.
5. Set the Condition field to Ends With and then type your Exchange server name into the Value field. Click Add to add this value.
6. Now click the Find button, and hopefully you'll see the troublesome user listed in the results window. You should then be able to remove the Exchange attributes from these user accounts and proceed with the uninstall.

Account Deleted on February 3, 2004 at 09:29 AM in Useful Info
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you are quite a master in exchange troubleshooting!

Posted by: ncuboy at Feb 17, 2004 1:18:09 AM

Thanks, that did the trick. :)

Posted by: DrFooMod2 at Mar 17, 2004 2:07:20 PM

3 hits on google including the one from microsoft that you mention and this is the one that worked! Thanks!!

Posted by: Chris at Mar 30, 2004 5:45:46 AM

How do you remove the attributes from a user? where do you do this??

Many Thanks

Posted by: Steve Hughes at Apr 6, 2004 9:01:43 AM

Right click on user - Exchange tasks... - Remove Exchange Attributes

Posted by: Marin Jirasek at Apr 7, 2004 1:28:13 AM

Right click on user in ADUC - Exchange Tasks... - Remove Exchange Attributes

Posted by: Marin at Apr 7, 2004 1:31:08 AM

This is a great tip! Can also be used to move mail boxes in diverse OUs in one fell swoop to another server. Many thanks for sharing this.

Posted by: Henry Schlarb at Apr 11, 2004 7:04:40 PM

Thank you for the tip. This was a life saver.

Posted by: Joni Niemelä at May 9, 2004 11:58:55 PM

Under Exchange Properties tab (IIS), where is the home directory path?

Posted by: Ed at May 12, 2004 7:53:07 AM

Wow... Looks like I finally may get my original E2K3 server uninstalled. Nothing else I've tried has worked. The server claims only the two system mailboxes are on it still, but the Users and Computers search revealed a test user I created way back when, named "someone" was still in there. You're my hero, and have saved me from forcibly removing this server, which I always hate to do...

Anyone know why the server doesn't think there is a mailbox there still? Seems I should have been able to find it under the message store / mailboxes????

Posted by: Steve Jones at Jun 15, 2004 8:46:53 PM

thanks ur a champion!

Posted by: bobby at Jun 24, 2004 4:47:14 PM

Sweet.. worked perfect. Thanks.

Posted by: Ramon Backwards at Jul 10, 2004 10:11:48 AM

Worked for me too!

Posted by: Bryan at Aug 14, 2004 8:24:54 PM

Worked for me too!

Posted by: Bryan at Aug 14, 2004 8:25:01 PM

Your tip worked like a dream !!

Couldn't move the mailbox / remove exchange attributes for the SystemMailbox, but then it doesn't show up on that exchange home server search either.

Anyway !! You Rock :-)

- Prayag

Posted by: Prayag at Aug 15, 2004 6:41:51 AM

Great tip! Unfortunately the only user I find is Administrator which does not have any Exchange Attributes. Is there anything else I can try?? All ideas are greatly appreciated! Thanks in anticipation

Posted by: JonC at Aug 17, 2004 7:13:34 AM

I have tried to uninstal Zango through my add/remove, it does not do it. Do you have any suggestions.......... this is crazy

Posted by: Pat Brown at Oct 19, 2004 4:08:44 AM

This worked for me too, one important note. If you find a user homed on the server you're trying to remove and you take action on them, WAIT for replication before trying Setup/Remove again. Also, cancel the setup and re-run it, don't just hit BACK and NEXT again.

Posted by: Bionic Peon at Oct 25, 2004 11:51:51 AM

Thanks - this worked like a charm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Jason at Nov 8, 2004 12:57:00 PM

Bing Bang Bosh - sorted thank-you

Posted by: Gary at Nov 19, 2004 10:46:04 AM

Quality! Spend few hours pondering over why couldn't uninstall one unrequired exchange 2003 off a Site & kept being told "MAILBOXES EXIST & MUST BE MOVED". Yet when looking in Exchange System Manager only Three System Mailboxes Existed! Your FIND users associated with the Exchange Server in question higlighted a Users Mailbox Still referenced to it.
Removed user and Bingo! SORTED. Thank You VERY MUCH!! All the best.

Posted by: Sycomites at Nov 25, 2004 7:00:52 AM

GOD ... thanks

Posted by: Andrew at Dec 27, 2004 4:32:14 PM

Very nice. Where all the advance tools fail you make life better by reminding us that old school tools are still the best to get the job done.

Posted by: Clint Carlson at Jan 1, 2005 2:35:38 PM

Don't ya just love how this information has been around for on this blog nearly a year...yet MS has not updated thier KB accordingly.

- another soul saved by this blog.

Posted by: st3in at Jan 3, 2005 10:23:45 PM

Well, I did create a community KB article some time ago:


Posted by: Neil Hobson at Jan 4, 2005 12:50:33 AM