Active Directory, DNS, and Exchange

Phew, if there was ever a trio of software services that don’t play together nicely it would have to be the three mentioned in the title of this blog post.  Setting up DNS and AD correctly is tantamount to having Exchange server work properly.  God forbid you mess up a setting anywhere, then the whole setup turns into a big pile of steamy poo, and can only be resolved with a reinstall.

So, you have a nice shiny install of Windows 2003, and you want to turn this into an Exchange box with integrated AD.   The Internet is awash with suggestions and cryptic answers to complex questions, so here’s a few tips for the layman that may help your install go smother…

1. Make sure that IPV6 is uninstalled – I ran into a whole deal of problems because I had installed it (thinking it might be useful later).  Trust me, remove it if you’ve installed it.

2. Install and setup DNS before promoting the server to a domain controller.

2.1 Create a forward lookup zone for, for disable dynamic updates.

2.2 Add your ISP DNS servers as forwarders.

2.3 Change the IP settings on your server to use the local DNS server as the primary DNS server.

2.4 Test the DNS server is working using nslookup

2.5 The above test should resolve to the local IP address of the server, if it’s the IP of your ISP or another address then something went wrong in the above steps.

2.6 Make sure you can still browse the Internet.

3. Unpack the SUPPORT.CAB file from the Windows 2003 SUPPORT/TOOLS directory.

4. Promote server to domain controller.

4.1 If the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of your AD is the same as an address registered on the Internet elsewhere (my home AD is so I can host email at home, but resolves to a web server elsewhere on the Internet) make sure that you add a forward lookup zone (A record) for the FQDN.  This means you won’t see the offsite web server from the new AD, but at least your AD setup will work.

4.2 Make sure that no errors or diagnostic faults during the promotion of your server.  If an error occurs, fix it, don’t ignore it – it’ll save you a lot of headache later.

4.3 After the promotion has completed, check the DNS records for your new domain, you should notice many more entries.

5. Navigate to the directory where you installed the support tools.

5.1 Run DCDIAG.EXE – make sure that ALL tests pass.  Any DNS problems will rear their ugly head at this point.

5.1 Run NETDIAG.EXE – If IPV6 is still installed, you’ll have DNS problems here.  Again, make sure ALL tests pass.

6. Run Forestprep and DomainPrep from your Exchange Server Installation.

6.1 Install Exchange Server.

6.2 Upgrade the install with the latest service packs.

[tags:Microsoft Windows;Microsoft Exchange Server]

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