Installing Exchange 2010 SP3

If you’re familiar with Exchange and installing service packs and you stumbled across this blog by accident, you’re probably wondering why someone would blog about installing Exchange 2010 SP3. Well, I’m glad you’ve asked. The reason is that I’m sure there’s some administrators out there that are being safe and looking for confirmation that they are not going to get into a Resume Generating Event. That’s why I decided to write this and because I’ve got that kind of time.  As for you, my overly cautious IT admin, read this and have comfort that you’re in good hands.  With that said, it’s always a good idea to wait a month or so before installing a service pack just to let everyone else work out the bugs. Let’s move on…

I’ll cover things that you might want to know, suggestions for handling a CAS Array, and what you need to do when upgrading a DAG, because they should be handled differently if you want to take advantage of one of the perks of having a DAG, and that’s maximizing service to your loving end-users. I could be mean and give you the long version, but I think I’ve rambled on long enough so far and you shouldn’t have to sit through all this for free, so let’s get started.

Service Pack Details

What’s in it for me?

Very important question.  Why install this if there’s no benefit, so let’s list those real quick.

  • Allows you to install Exchange 2010 on Server 2012 and no, you can’t upgrade a 2008 R2 server with exchange installed to 2012.  Must be a fresh install.
  • Support for IE 10, meaning you can now connect to Exchange 2010 with IE 10
  • It contains all fixes that were released in previous rollup updates.
  • Contains new fixes.  You can check those out here.
  • Closer to getting you coexisting with Exchange 2013!  This SP is required on 2010 and 2013 needs Cumulative Update 1 (CU1), which is not out yet.

Installing SP3 – You might need to know this

First let’s talk about the order of installation just in case you’ve been a bad administrator and split your roles out. For you technical people, I know there are some reasons to split the roles out, so don’t get too excited in the comments. It’s a joke. Sort of. If you split them up, you will be targeting the server hosting the CAS role, then Hub and Edge role, and then Mailbox role. This is regardless if you have a DAG or not.  This is no longer the case in Exchange 2013.  Little extra nerd knowledge for you at no charge. You’re welcome.  If you have more than one site with Exchange installed, you want to update the internet facing site first.

Let’s talk about a few other things that you’ll want to know.  Bullet time!

  • There is an Active Directory Schema update for this service pack.
  • You will need a reboot and there will be down time.
  • You can upgrade to SP3 directly from RTM, SP1, or SP2.  It just takes longer the older your current install is.  From SP2 to SP3 you can expect about 30 minutes upgrade time per server.
  • Once you mount a database on an Exchange server running SP3, you can’t mount it on a RTM server because the database schema is upgraded from RTM.  This is important to know when you’re upgrading a DAG.  I’ll discuss this more later.  If you’re upgrading from RTM, the upgrade process an Application Event ID 1185 will be logged to show the database schema upgrade.  The schema is not changed from SP1 or SP2 so you can still mount databases between SP1, SP2, and SP3.
  • If you are installing a fresh exchange server, don’t install RTM then upgrade to SP3.  This is not because it won’t work, it’s because it’s a waste of time.  Each SP is a full slipstreamed install.  This means that you can do a fresh install from SP3.  If you didn’t know that already, this post just paid for itself.
  • Make sure your applications support SP3 before upgrading because there is no “uninstall SP3” rollback plan.
  • If you make customizations to OWA, make sure you back that up because they might be replaced with the SP install.
  • As always, make sure you have a full GOOD backup before installing a SP and test it in your lab first if you can.

Install Time!

Single Server

Finally! We’re here. Keeping in mind the install order, we unpack the install into a directory on the exchange server.  In the screenshot below, I’ve unpacked it to C:\Exchange 2010 SP3.  Open command prompt and CD it to where you unpacked yours.  CD “C:\Exchange 2010 SP3”.  To run a quick easy install, you can run this one liner: /mode:Upgrade


Wow.. That was tough. Enjoy the install.

WAIT!!!! You might get a warning about this hot fix. Install it if you’re experiencing this issue. Ok, carry on.

You can do the install through the GUI as well by running Setup.exe.  I’m not covering that here because it’s a pretty straight install.  I really wanted to cover the command line option because it gets overlooked a lot.

Installing with a DAG

Welcome to the second part of this extremely drawn out blog. Luckily the install process is the same, we just need to worry about the DAG and upsetting those pesky users. Remember to do the CAS first if you split out your roles before upgrading your DAG.  If your CAS servers are load balanced, you can use the LB device to drain connections off of the CAS server you’re upgrading, if your LB supports it.  This will prevent clients from losing the connection during the upgrade.  If not, when you upgrade the CAS server, the clients connected to that CAS will lose connection and possibly be prompted to log back in to the other CAS.  At a minimum you should remove or disable the CAS on the LB device and add it back or enable it once the upgrade is completed and the server’s rebooted.

Hub Transport servers are inherently redundant.  I would just upgrade them one at a time.

Now that we’ve got the easy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about upgrading a DAG.  For the sake of this explanation, let’s assume we’re doing a two node DAG.  Larger DAGs will follow the same method.

First thing is to kick all the active databases to server 2, suspend the database replication, block activation on server 1, pause the cluster node for server 1, upgrade server 1, reboot server 1, then repeat the steps on server 2, and finally move all databases over one at a time to their preferred mailbox server. Can you believe I just typed all that in one breath??  What’s that you say? “Jerrid, that’s too much work. Can you just remote in and do it for me?” Absolutely, I do SP installs for $500 a server. Just shoot me an email and we’ll work out the details, or you could save your money and use the nice little scripts that the Exchange team built for us because they knew people like me would take advantage of poor little admins. Let’s take a quick look.

First, open up Exchange Management Shell (all the cool kids are calling it EMS), and CD it to C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\v14\Scripts. Now type in:

.\StartDagServerMaintenance.ps1 -ServerName <servername>

Replace <servername> with the name of the DAG member you’re upgrading.  This will do all those weird things you were just asking me to do for $5oo dollars, which get the server in a safe place that’s upgrade friendly.


Once it’s done you can safely upgrade and reboot. Next, you need to take it out of maintenance mode and that is done by, you guessed it,

.\StopDagServerMaintenance.ps1 -ServerName <servername>.


Once we’re up and running on the first node, you’ll run through those steps on the second node. When the second node is done, this will leave you with all databases sitting on the first servers and that’s not good.  We need to put the databases back on their preferred owner. Luckily Microsoft has thought about that and they’ve provided .\RedistributeActiveDatabases.ps1 to help you out because I charge $250 just to redistribute databases.

Before we move on to that, let me bring back up the point about the actual database schema being updated if you’re coming from RTM.  This means that you can’t mount the database on a RTM DAG member after it’s been mounted on a SP3 server.  Plan accordingly when upgrading your DAG so that you either upgrade all nodes in one maintenance window, or you plan to upgrade enough to maintain your SLAs until you can get them all upgraded.  Ok, back to getting these databases redistributed.  The command you’ll want to run on that is:

.\RedistributeActiveDatabases.ps1 -DagName <Name of Dag> -BalanceDbsByActivationPreference -Confirm:$false

You should get something that looks like this.


We’re done!!! You did great and now you’re one step closer to upgrading to Exchange 2013!  Now it’s time to celebrate.



  1. Ping from Exchange 2010 SP2 Upgrade | IT stuffs:

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  2. Comment by chander:

    Great Write up. Appreciate the simiplicity of your document.

  3. Comment by Josh Rice:

    Thanks for this. Don’t suppose you have a write up for migrating from exchange 2010 to 2013?

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Josh! I don’t, but I’m going to start working on one. I was initially only going to do public folder migrations, but I’ll do the entire process. I’ll try to do it in sections and then ultimately produce a whitepaper that includes all the steps. Thanks for the suggestion and commenting.

  4. Comment by Henry Rice:

    Nice write up, I wasn’t sure if I had to step through the service packs, you cleared up things for me. Thanks

  5. Comment by Nelson Oles:

    I’m on SP1 UR6. Do the Update Rollups need to be removed?

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hi Nelson, and thanks for commenting. No, they don’t have to be removed. The only time you have to remove anything is if you installed an interim update that Microsoft releases outside their normal URs.

  6. Comment by Simon Cryer:

    “Each SP is a full slipstreamed install. This means that you can do a fresh install from SP3. If you didn’t know that already, this post just paid for itself.” And got you a new regular visitor. Thank you very much, Jerrid!

  7. Comment by Annette:

    We’re on SP1 RU7 and need to update to SP3 RU4. Can we run the SP3 and RU4 updates together? For instance on my first mailbox server after moving the databases to another server, etc., can I run the SP3 install and then run the RU4 install right after that and then move on to the next server?

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Annette,
      Yeah, you can do one right after another. The one thing that won’t work is putting the RU4 inside the Update folder of SP3 and doing them at the same time. To my knowledge, that only works on fresh Exchange installs. It’s failed for me every time I’ve tried and I don’t think they have any intentions of fixing that.
      Thanks for commenting!

  8. Comment by Joel Garcia:

    Hey Jerrid,

    I’m upgrading my exchange sp 2 to 3 tonight, and i love the article above, makes me feel safe doing the upgrade. Just one question though, i have a 2 node dag, and it’s setup that all the databases are on 1 server active replicating to the 2nd dag server that is non active, if i reboot the main server, the databases become active on the 2nd server. When i run the script to get it ready for upgrade i assume the databases will be active on server 2, once the upgrade is done i get it out of maintenance mode and i assume replication will commence and i can than run the script on server 2 and upgrade that one, why would i need to run the redistribute active database command if all my databases are already active on the other server, i tend to have the databases active on one server and standby on the other, not sure if this is incorrect, any input would be appreciated.

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Joel,
      Thanks for the comment and question. If you keep all active mailboxes on one node, then you wouldn’t need to redistribute them back out. Having all servers active on one node is not necessarily incorrect in a small environment, you’re just not utilizing your full hardware investment. You could evenly distribute them between nodes so that you can utilize both servers. You might not need the extra performance but if you’re paying for the server (power/cooling) you might as well use it.
      I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any questions.

  9. Comment by Rose:

    Great article! Thanks very much! Our upgrade to SP2 failed and we have a single server. We are on Version 14.01.0355.002. Has anyone out there upgraded to SP3 after an SP2 fail?

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hi Rose, thanks for the comment and question. I would review the install log to find out why the install failed. Chances are that if SP2 failed, SP3 will fail as well. A shot in the dark on my part, but a common reason I see installs fails is because the firewall service has been disabled. I would check that and if it’s disabled, enable it. If you want to turn the firewall off, do it through the security center and not by disabling the service. Again, just a shot in the dark and if this isn’t your issue, I would review the logs.

  10. Comment by Tuan:

    Hi Jerrid,
    Great writing, I am planning to install new mailbox role into our existing exchange 2010 sp3 organisation, what best installation file you recommend me to use for this new installation (please send me a link). The reason I am asking you this question is that, last time I did use Exchange 2010 SP1 installation files on my new fresh Server box, it has gave error and it took me ages to clear the mess. Expecting to have your advise and thing that I need to aware of. Thanks

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Taun,
      Thanks for the comment and question. I would just go to Microsoft’s download site and download Exchange 2010 SP3. While you’re there, I would also download SP3 RU5 (RU6 hasn’t been out long enough for me). Once you’ve unpacked SP3, you’ll see an Update folder. Place RU5 inside that and do your clean install. Once the install is complete, you’ll have a SP3 RU5 server. I can’t speak for what happened last time or where you got your install files from last time, but I would always get them from Microsoft’s site.
      Thanks and I hope this helps.

  11. Comment by Tuan:

    Hi Jerrid,

    Thank you very much for your advise, may I ask you another question. we currently have 2 CAS/HUB and 2 Mailbox role Servers, they are all with Exchange 2003 SP3 Rollup 1. If I need to upgrade all into rollup5 do I have to upgrade it by each rollup at the time e.g Rollup2 then Rollup3 then Rollup4 and then Rollup5 or I can just install Rollup5 as one go and what server order we need to upgrade first and last? Thanks


    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hi Tuan,
      You can just go straight to RU5. Each RU contains updates from previous RUs
      As far as the install order, you want to do them in this order.
      If you have internet facing and non-internet facing sites, you want to do the internet facing sites first.
      Thanks and I hope this helps.

  12. Comment by Tuan:

    Hi Jerrid,

    Great, Thanks for your advise


  13. Comment by Robert:

    Do you know how to install Exchange 2010 sp3 as a fresh install on 2012 server?
    Apparently a slipstream installer isn’t supported and not sure how to start.
    RTM will bark not supported OS.

    thanks for any help

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey, Robert, thanks for the question.
      I believe you are trying this way? Unpacking RTM binaries and then putting SP3 in the Updates folder? If you are, each SP is a full install, so just unpack SP3, do the install from the SP3 binaries and use the update folder to slipstream the desired rollup update.

      Thanks and I hope this helped.

  14. Comment by Dominic:

    Hi Jerrid,

    Wondering if you could be of help.We have exchange 2010 in a DAG that has two mailbox role servers. Of late one has become suspiciously unstable. As a result we have setup a replacement MBX server called MBX4. I am at the point of using EMC to make copies of the existing DBS from the Old MBX server that is still fully functional. I have noticed that anytime I perform a copy of the existing DBS to MBX4, the DBs on the MBX server(MBX1) I’m coping from grow in size of close to 1GB.The impact being that the more I perform a copy the more it fills up the DB drive of the MBX server I have made copies from.
    My question is, is this normal and if it isn’t please do you have nay idea of how to resolve this issue?

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Dominic, thanks for your question.
      Let me make sure I understand. You’re creating a passive copy on the new server, and the active copy grows by approximately 1GB? Is it the actual .edb file that’s growing or could it be that the logs are growing?


  15. Comment by Robert:

    Oh I see. No need to slipstream RTM with SP3 then. Just launch the install from SP3 itself.
    Going to try this as soon as the VM is provisioned. (this is for Office 365 migration, just need CAS+MBX).
    thanks for the reply.

  16. Comment by Andrew:

    I am going to upgrade to Exchange 2010 SP3 on a server in our production environment as a test. The server is on SP2 Rollup 4 and has mailbox, CAS, and Hub on it. There are no production mailboxes on this server and it is used as a test machine and for DR test purposes, so if I un-installed Exchange from it right now it wouldn’t affect anything. Now, this server is part of the production organizaion though which has two hub/CAS servers, a stand alone pair of Hubs, and four mailbox servers in a DAG. This is in the US alone. We have similar but smaller setups in two other international locations.

    My question is whether upgrading the test box to SP3 will have any adverse effect on the system? The rest of the system will still be at SP2. Also, in your experience, has the upgrade to SP3 affected any BES 5.0.3 installations? Let me know.

    Thank you,

    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Andrew,
      Sorry for the late reply. You should be ok upgrading it to SP3 for testing since a CAS SP3 can talk to a SP2 mailbox server (if that’s the case in your environment). I would still treat it as a production box and do it after hours since it’s not a true test environment (tied to production).
      As for BES, I’ve gotten very familiar with googling “BES Support Matrix” to get to this helpful document. It shows you exactly what version of BES you need to be at and has saved me a few times. It appears that for SP3, you need 5.0.4.

      I hope this helps and thanks for the question.


  17. Comment by Jim:

    Hi Jerrid,

    Great article ! Thanks.
    Would you say that it is now OK to install Rollup Update 6 (instead of 5) after installing Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 ?


    • Jerrid Williams
      Comment by Jerrid Williams:

      Hey Jim,
      Thanks for commenting and the compliment. I would say it’s probably ok. I did a quick review of the KB articles that came out over the last three weeks and I don’t really see much going on. I also haven’t seen or heard of any major bugs being discussed on the MCM distribution list. I’ll probably start suggesting it to my customers, but as always, I would test if you have that ability.
      Thanks again!

  18. Comment by Neil:

    Our organization has all roles combined on one box. Like literally, every damn role, and the exchange server is also the AD Domain Controller too. (the previous admin who set it all up was obviously working on a shoestring budget). Im updating from SP1 to SP3, think ill survive just using this guide?

  19. Comment by Ferit:


    thanks for the great post, i have updated my sbs2011 box from sp1 to sp3 today without problems.
    The only Thing i had to do, was to disable the datacollector Service because it had some files locked.



  20. Comment by Pietro Dall'Acqua:

    Thanks a lot.
    Great post, it helped me to do the work without too much paranoia.

  21. Comment by osama:

    really good work ,, big thank to you
    i have questions if you allow me ,
    i have 2 exchange servers one with hub and cas and one for mailbox ,,, do i need to run install on both of them ?
    second , for anti-spam barracuda , office 2007 ,, this will be effected ?
    sorry for my language 🙂

    am doing this becouse i need to upgrade the DC from 2008 to 2012 , that what boss want 🙂