Edit: The latest update is now Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 18. See here for a list of all updates and KB articles.
I’ve got a few Exchange 2013 installations in production now so I thought it was about time I wrote a post on best practices when installing Exchange 2013 Cumulative Updates and Service Packs.
Each Cumulative update is a version of Exchange in it own right. Therefore if you are installing a new deployment of Exchange you can install straight from latest Cumulative Update, which at the time of writing is CU11 (released December 2015). KB3099522 contains a list of fixes and enhancement for CU11. Check here to see what the current latest version is.
This also means that once installed you cannot uninstall a Cumulative Update, if you do you uninstall Exchange.
The update is approximately 1.6GB in size and can be downloaded from here.
In my test lab with a single Exchange server and single Domain Controller the update took an 60 minutes to install.
The official Exchange Team blog post can be found here.
Microsoft Support Policy
Microsoft will support the last two Cumulative Updates. So currently they support CU10 and CU11. They will support the oldest Cumulative Update for 3 months after the release of the latest Cumulative Update. Which makes sense as the Cumulative Updates are based on quarterly releases.
Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update best practices
Most of my deployments are in small to medium sized businesses and are usually single Exchange Server environments, so these tips are aimed at them, however most if not all are applicable to larger environments too.
- Test the update in a non-production environment first before deploying to a production environment.
- Consider waiting a week or two after the release date before deploying in production if you don’t have a test environment, in case there are any QA issues with the CU.
- Reboot the server so that it is in a known good state.
- Make sure you have a known good backup of Active Directory.
- Make sure you have a known good backup of your Exchange Server.
- Backup any customisations (OWA), as each Cumulative Update is basically an inplace upgrade customisations will not be retained.
- Run the Cumulative Update from an evelated command prompt.
- An Active Directory Schema modification will often be required so make sure the account you are using has the ability to do this.
- If you are upgrading a DAG member place it into maintenance mode first.
- In Internet Explorer, deselect “Check for Publisher’s certificate” and “Check for server certificate revocation”, from Internet Options, Advanced tab, Security options.
- Disable antivirus software – this was a tip for installing update rollups on Exchange 2010, I’ve not seen any references to this and Exchange 2013 though.
- Disable Backup Exec services – does anyone use it anymore? Another tip from installing update rollups for Exchange 2010, but again I’ve not seen any references to this and Exchange 2013 though.
- Once the update has completed reboot your server.
- Once rebooted test the server is functioning correctly. Use the cmdlets Test-ServiceHealth to confirm the services are running, and Test-MapiConnectivity to confirm access to mailbox databases. Check the ECP and Outlook WebApp.
Don’t forget to undo the changes made in steps 10, 11 and 12.
Personally I like to update Active Directory from the command prompt and then run the update in the GUI. You can run it all from the command prompt or all in the GUI, it makes no difference, but I like to see AD Schema updates as they happen.
Obviously prior to this point you’ve followed the steps above to prepare for the Cumulative Update.
- Run Exchange2013-x64-cu11.exe from an elevated command prompt.
- Extract to C:\Sw\Exch2013CU11 and then go to that directory in the command prompt.
- Run setup.exe /? for the help commands, take a look at setup.exe /help:upgrade and setup.exe /help:preparetopology
- First prepare the AD Schema. Run the command setup.exe /PrepareSchema /IacceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms
- Next prepare Active Directory. Run the command setup.exe /PrepareAD /IacceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms
- Then prepare the domain. Run the command setup.exe /PrepareDomain /IacceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms. In a multi domain environment you can use /PrepareAllDomains or specify domains individually.
- Now run Setup.exe for the gui installation or setup /m:upgrade /IacceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms for the unattended installation. In which case skip to 17)
- Check online for updates, click next.
- Click next to download any available updates.
- The setup will start to copy files.
- Then it will start to initialize.
- Setup will detect this is an upgrade, click next.
- Accept the License Agreement, click Next.
- Wait for the Readiness Checks to complete and click install.
- Setup progress.
- Setup complete.
- Command line installation complete.
- Reboot your server.