Remove (legacy) Exchange server using ADSIEdit

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Exchange 2010, Exchange Legacy
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The need to remove a (legacy) Exchange server using ADSIEdit could have several reasons. The method using ADSIEdit to remove an Exchange server should only be used carefully.

The most common reasons are listed below:

  • The deinstallation didn’t finish properly and left attributes or entries in Active Directory
  • The Exchange server is permanent offline Exchange and should be removed
  • An Exchange installation didn’t finish properly and the attributes and entries shoould be removed

To remove the server open ADSI-Edit and go to configuration

Navigate to this path:

CN=Microsoft Exchange
CN=Administrative Groups

for Exchange 2003
CN=First Administrative Group

for Exchange 2007
CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)

for Exchange 2010
CN=Exchange Administrative Group (FYDIBOHF23SPDLT)


Within the container CN=Servers you can see you installed legacy Exchange servers. By right-click and hit delete you can remove the objects. You can also remove single objects of a server like public folder databases.

Refer to this article to see how to remove public folders in the different versions of Exchange.



  1. Scott says:

    I have a single Exchange 2010 SP2 server that I ant to remain intact. I need to remove an Exchange 2003 SP2 server that was not properly removed before decommissioning the server. I can no longer bring up the old server, but I want to remove all traces of it without damaging my Exchange 2010 organization. Any thoughts?
    Thanks in advance,

    • Chris says:

      Hi Scott,

      if the Server was not properly decomissioned, you can follow the instructions in this article.



      • Do you recommend deleting the ‘CN=[SERVERNAME] folder all together? Beneath it I see defined ‘Information Store, Microsoft MTA, Microsoft System Attendant, Protocols’ and several subfolders within a few of these. I don’t want to break my Exchange 2010 org, but would like to stop seeing Legacy warnings in the BPA and Event logs.
        Thanks again!

      • Chris says:

        Yes, the clean way is to delete the whole server object. This wouldn’t break your Exchange 2010 configuration. But you mustn’t delete the “Servers” folder itself.



      • Nelson Da Cunha says:

        Hallo Chris,
        Dein Artikel ist schon eine Weile her, stehe aber momentan mit dem selben Problem. Migration Exchange 2010 auf 2016. Meldung das noch ein alter 2000er oder 2003er Exchange vorhanden ist. Der Server gibt es aber schon länger nicht mehr, aber im ADSI ist es noch vorhanden. Kann ich im CN=Administrative Groups, den Ordner CN=Erste administrative Gruppe komplett löschen oder nur im CN=Servers den Eintrag mit dem alten Server? Besten Dank für dein kurzes Feedback.

        Freundliche Grüsse aus der Schweiz.

  2. Florent says:

    Thank you for your help 🙂

  3. Brian says:

    In my ADSI, I see a CN=Databases listed before the CN=Servers. Is there a reason to keep the database listed under the servername that I plan on deleting? Thanks!

  4. Robert Dixon says:

    What if I deleted the server folder in error? Transitioned from exch 2003 to exch 2007. I have no need to go back to exch 2003.

  5. Robert Dixon says:

    I deleted the server folder is error, now when I run add and remove programs to remove exchange 2003 I receive an active sync error. I transitioned from exch 2003 to exch 2007, I just want to remove all traces of exch 2003.

  6. gembaysan says:

    Great article Chris
    I would like to add that ADSIEdit should be accessed through the DC, otherwise you will not see the full tree/options

    Gem Baysan

  7. Javier says:

    Hello Chris,
    In my case, I had a Exchange 2003 that was removed improperly. Mi Exchange 2007 was working well for about 5 years, now I installed a Exchange 2010 and it’s very slowly to connect to the database, I saw with the ADSI, I have the CN=Servers with my two actual servers EXC2007 and EXC2010 my goal is to migrate all the mailbox to the Exc2010, and next shut down the Exc2007. It will be OK if I delete the two inscriptions of the servers and left empty the CN=Servers? thanks for your help.

    • Hi Javier,

      I would suggest to first try a Deinstallation of Exchange 2007. Afterwards you should control, if the old Exchange 2007 Server object was removed.

      If the deinstallation will fail, you can go the ADSIEdit way and delete the Server object.

      Take care about the Exchange 2010s EventLog if any Events are triggered after you deleted the Exchange 2007 Server.



  8. Javier says:

    Ok Chris, thanks a lot, I’ll take care on it.
    You know?, from about two months, when I installed the Exchange 2010, the Exchange 2007 is slowly to any action, for example when I create a new user I should wait for about five minutes when I click on Finish, I tested the AD, (I have two), with the DCDIAG tools, and no problems are present. But in the Exchange 2007 in the Application logs, I have a lot of warning MSEXchangeIS Public Stores – Replication Errors – 3092 and 1025 events id. Do you have any idea on it?
    Thanks again.

  9. Elie says:

    Hi Chris,

    Great article.
    Are you aware if I can use the above steps for a badly decommisioned Exchange ‘2000’ server ?


  10. albertwt says:


    Does this article can be used to remove the old Exchange Server 2003 attributes from the AD ?

    Previouly I got to this page: but then there are too many steps involved.

  11. Phil says:

    Public Folders not receiving emails…
    I have two Exchange Administrative Groups CN= one is my new Exchange and the other is the old 2003 Exchange. The CN=Servers in my old exchange container is empty, nothing is listed, however some of the containers above it do have objects in them. What do I do? Can I at least delete the CN=Servers in my old Exchange Group?

  12. Phil says:

    So after much decision making, I was extremely worried about pulling the trigger, but did finally delete the empty CN-Servers container that was attached to my old legacy environment. Ahhhh…this did the trick. My Public Folders once again started to receive emails, this also seemed to clear up my Address Book download sync issues.

    Thank you for starting this post!!!

  13. Demetrius says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >Remove (legacy) Exchange
    server using ADSIEdit | Christopher Dargel’s Exchange
    and Windows Blog <Liked it!

  14. Glen says:

    Thanks, this helped me in decommissioning my old Exchange 2007 server after migrating to 2010. Just a quick note though, after I deleted the server entry in ADSIEdit, I received alerts on my Exchange 2010 logs (MSExchange ADAccess) telling me that some of my entries are now pointing to a deleted entry – the server I just removed. I had to go back and point the ‘Exchange Routing Group’ msExchRoutingMasterDN to the new server. I also had to do this for my Send Connector that was originally created in Exchange 2007 – I updated the HomeMTA and pointed to the new server.

    • Glen says:

      I also want to mention, after deleting the old server entry as described above, all the errors about OAB unable to sync are now gone. And those public folder sync emails, hierarchy and backfill requests that are still trying to connect to the old server are also gone. This issue bugged me for a couple of days after removing the old server. I also confirmed all my public folder replicas are no longer pointed to the old server – but the steps above did the fix. Thanks again.

  15. James says:

    Hi, many thanks for the article.

    We recently (cutover) migrated to 365 and no longer have an on premise Exchange 2010 server. It’s been mostly fantastic, but there have been some odd niggles that I suspect are to do with Legacy exchange objects in the AD. After following your article I discovered that we also had one for SBS Exchange 2003 (from the upgrade/migration before! – oops).

    My question is: can I just delete the two legacy groups under CN=Administrative Groups since they are both long gone now?

  16. JJR says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I’d like to take James’ question one step further…

    I have also moved to Office 365 and it seems like your method is faster (and possibly safer) than attempting to uninstall Exchange on an old SBS 2003 server. Once decommissioned, I can perform a DirSync between AD and O365.

    Looking at ADSI Edit of a network that has never had Exchange, I notice that CN=Microsoft Exchange doesn’t even exist under the CN=Services container. Would it be safe to delete as high as the CN=Microsoft Exchange container?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi JJR,

      I can not say in general, if you can delete this entry at every AD.
      I would definitely recommend to previously create a backup before you delete those entries.



      • JJR says:

        Hello again! I am following up to report that deleting the entire CN=Microsoft Exchange container works fine. I have done this with three different clients before running Azure AD Connect (formerly DirSync) with no issues.

        Thanks for the blog to get me in the right direction.

  17. Wayne says:

    Hi Chris,
    I have a problem with my SBS 2003 server. The SBS was the original system hub, but when they got a tech company in, they upgraded to Exchange Server 2010. They didn’t remove the SBS from the exchange topography and just left it there. The problem I have is that the SBS still considers itself the boss and a requirement to the exchange and if it crashes or goes offline, the exchange doesn’t let mail through until it is brought back online. What is the best and safest way to remove it from the exchange system?
    I’m planning on removing the SBS from the system, i’m just worried that if I don’t remove it from the mail system properly, my mail will stop completely..

    • Hi Wanye,
      Iin your case I would go ahead deinstalling SBS services from the domain: Install new domain controllers and Exchange servers, move everything from the SBS to the new systems, demote the SBS AD services, change MailFlow, delete LegacyConnector and deinstall the SBS system.

      Cheers, Chris

  18. Mikey Cunanan says:

    We installed an exchange 2013 and created all the users from our AD to have an exchange account. But for some unexplained reason, the server crashed and we cannot recover the server.. due to HDD failure.. So we rebuild another server. Problem is all users mailbox resides to the dead server. And it will be a big work if we try to delete the existing exchange users and recreate them (500 users). If I’ll delete the record of the old server on adsiedit. can we add again the AD users to the new exchange?

  19. Al says:

    Brilliant, thank you so much for that post, saved me trying to polish the turd and got a clean install

  20. Ezekiel says:

    Hi, ok this is my problem. My DC got attacked by a Ransom Virus and I had to Do it over again(fresh Installation, and I didn’t have a backup. after that connecting it back on the network. My Exchange 2016 Lost the trust relationship. I added it to a work group and back again to the same an fresh DC i installed. After that Exchange 2016 refused to open and work. no emails going in or out. How do i set it up to Connect to my new Active Directory?

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