How to Install Exchange Server 2013

Exchange Server 2013: Many IT pros have either already started testing it or are thinking about it. Now, it’s a good idea to test the installation and configuration beforehand to see all the gotchas. Having installed previous versions of Exchange Servers many times through the years, I always recommend setting up a test lab where you can go through the installation at least once to familiarize yourself with the process.

Exchange Server 2013 is no different than the previous versions in that it has its own set of gotchas. In this article I’ll walk through the installation instructions for Exchange Server 2013 — and point out a few things that can easily be missed if you don’t follow all pre-installation instructions.

Before Installing Exchange 2013

Prior to the installation of Exchange server 2013, I highly recommend that you read over the prerequisites, as there are many depending on the the OS version that you are running and what roles you are intending to install. Exchange Server 2013 is supported to run on Windows server 2008 R2 Standard (non DAG servers), Enterprise (DAG server role), and Windows Server 2012 standard/Datacenter editions. Keep in mind that with any Exchange installation in an existing Active Directory site, the install will require some schema updates to your Active Directory.

The lab I used to test Exchange Server 2013 had an existing Windows server 2008 Active Directory with the forest functional level at 2008. Prior to any installation in production you should verify what your AD functional level is and see if it meets the requirements. The actual install of Exchange server 2013 isn’t too difficult — in fact, I think it seems easier than previous versions (or it could just be the more “metro” feel of the interface which makes it seem easier).

For those that don’t take my advice and skip reading the prerequisites mentioned above, you will find that preparing Active Directory manually is not quite same as it was before, and that it may fail for you at first. The reason for this is when running setup.exe the terms and agreement need to be accepted every time you run it.

When running setup.exe you will need to use the /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms parameters to accept the Exchange 2013 license terms. In prior versions this was not the case and you simply ran the setup.exe command with only required parameters. Another new item that is part of the installation is choosing whether to disable the built-in malware protection that is part of Exchange Server 2013. If you already have a third-party vendor for malware protection, you may decide that you do not want this feature enabled. You can read more about the built-in anti-spam and malware protection for Exchange Server 2013.

Preparing Active Directory

You will need to prepare Active Directory prior to installation of Exchange Server 2013. The system that is used to prepare AD requires having the two key components: Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 and Windows Management Framework 3.0 (WMF 3.0).

AD was prepared on the domain controller in my lab using the following setup.exe in command prompt rather than using a RSAT tools.

  • Prepare Schema
    • Setup /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms  /PrepareSchema    

Exchange 2013 Prepare Schema

  • Prepare the AD – this prepares the local domain you are in
    • Setup /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms  /PrepareAD /OrganizationName:yourOrganizationalname

Exchange 2013 Prepare AD

  • To Prepare all domains run:
    • Setup /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms  /PrepareAllDomains

Exchange 2013 Prepare all domains

Installing Exchange Server 2013

After Active Directory is prepared, you can install Exchange 2013 onto your server, which has all the required perquisites already installed.

1. Run Setup.exe from the DVD or iso.

2. You will be prompted if you want to check for updates. Choose your option, then select Next.

install Exchange 2013


3. If you have selected to check for updates the installer will… well, check for updates. After that’s completed, select Next.

install Exchange 2013

4. The Exchange installer will now start copying the install files.

install Exchange 2013


5. Select Next after reading the Exchange Server Setup Introductions 2013.

install Exchange 2013

6. Accept the license terms and agreement, then select Next.


install Exchange 2013


7. Select which options for Exchange to automatically check online for solutions, then click Next.

install Exchange 2013

8. Select which server role you want to install. If this is your first Exchange Server 2013, you will need to install the mailbox role first. When finished, select Next.

install Exchange 2013

9. Select the location on which you want to install Exchange. Select Next.

install Exchange 2013

10. Choose whether you want to disable the Malware Protection Settings, then click Next.

install Exchange 2013

11. Now there will be a series of prerequisites checks to verify that all required components have been installed on the system. After that, select Next.

install Exchange 2013

12. If all required components are met, then select Install.

install Exchange 2013

13. After the installation has completed, select Finish and follow up with a reboot of the system.

install Exchange 2013

After running through an install of Exchange Server 2013 you can see that it’s not too different from previous versions. However there are some gotchas that you’ll need to look out for, in particular while running setup.exe, which is different than previous version installations. Now take it for a spin for see how you like Exchange Server 2013!