Error Solved: Exchange Server is in Inconsistent State

Summary: The error message, “Some Controls are not valid. The Exchange Server is in an inconsistent state. Only disaster recovery mode is available. Please use Setup /m:RecoverServer to recover this Exchange server.” appears in MS Exchange 2010. It occurs when an Exchange admin or user launches the Exchange Server setup to either reinstall or upgrade the server. In this guide, we help you resolve the error and restore the server (mailboxes) as the error is a result of the Exchange database or server corruption.

Microsoft Exchange is a mission-critical application used in many small, medium, and large organizations. It enables a powerful and reliable mail server for communication within and outside the organization. As an Exchange admin, you may require upgrading or reinstalling the Exchange server when it is damaged or its support ends, such as in Exchange 2010.

However, while upgrading or reinstalling Exchange, you may experience Exchange server is in an inconsistent state… error.

Exchange Server is in Inconsistent State

The error is caused when the Exchange server object already exists within the Active Directory (AD). The error indicates Exchange server corruption and is most frequently occurred in the situation when a server of the previous version has been uninstalled and you are attempting to reinstall or upgrade the Exchange server.

Further, you may experience this error after upgrading the Exchange server. For instance,

You upgraded the Exchange version from 2010 to 2013 and, out of sheer convenience, named the new Exchange with the same domain name as the one in the last version. In such a case, it is most likely that you encounter an inconsistent state server problem.

Methods to Fix ‘Exchange Server is in Inconsistent State’ Error

To fix the issue, you can use the recommended disaster recovery mode to recover the Exchange server. However, if you don’t wish to use disaster recovery mode to resolve the error (as it requires to set up new Exchange), you must remove the Exchange server object from AD before reinstalling or upgrading the Exchange. You may also use an Exchange recovery software, such as Stellar Repair for Exchange to ease up the process.

Exchange Server is in Inconsistent State

Below we have discussed these methods in detail to fix the error.

Method 1: Rename New Exchange Server Domain Name

The simplest and most suitable troubleshooting method is to rename the current server with a different name from earlier Exchange server in that domain. Then join the server to the domain name and try to reinstall or upgrade the Exchange version again.

Method 2: Rebuild the Server in Recovery Mode

When the Exchange server is in an inconsistent state, you may try to rebuild a new or current Exchange server with the same name by using the information and settings stored in the Active Directory of the Inconsistent Exchange server. For this, you can use the Setup /m:RecoverServer switch. This helps you rebuild a damaged or corrupt server in recovery mode automatically.


Exchange account must be a part of the following groups:

  • Domain Admins Group
  • Enterprise Admins Group
  • Exchange Organization Management Group

Steps to Rebuild Exchange Server by using Recovery Mode

This works when the Exchange server is in an inconsistent state, but Active Directory is available. The steps are as follows,

Step 1: Disable Exchange Server User Account Control (UAC)

In Windows Server 2012 / 2016/ 2019,

  • Go to Start > Control Panel and click System Security
  • Select Change User Account Control settings under Action Center
  • Now move the slider bar down to the Never notify and click OK
  • Restart the Windows Server machine for changes to take effect

The steps are more or less similar in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2.

Step 2: Locate and Run Exchange Setup File in Disaster Recovery Mode

Set up a new Windows server with the same version as of the old (inconsistent one) and the same naming convention with identical hardware and drive letters. Then download the same Exchange version ISO and mount it.

After mounting the ISO image, follow the below mentioned steps:

  • Open PowerShell and navigate to the Exchange setup file location (that you just mounted)
  • Then execute the following command in the same PowerShell window,
.\setup.exe /m:recoverserver/iacceptexchangeserverlicenseterms
  • The switch ‘recoverserver’ will enable the rebuilding of Exchange server with the help of the parameters and information stored within the Active Directory
  • After the setup has completed, reconfigure any custom settings and then restart the server

Method 3: Remove Exchange Server Object and Relaunch Exchange Setup

If you attempt to reinstall the Exchange setup on the Active Directory from where it was previously uninstalled, you must first remove the Exchange server object from the Active Directory. The steps are as follows,

  • Press Windows+R, type ADSIEDIT.msc, and click ‘OK’ or press ‘Enter
  • Then navigate to,

CN=Configuration, CN=Services, CN=Microsoft Exchange, CN=<Your Organization Name>, CN=Administrative Groups, CN= <Exchange 2010 Administrative Group>, CN=Servers, CN=<Server Name>

  • Find and delete the server object
  • Wait for a while for the changes to replicate throughout Active Directory
  • Reboot and then relaunch Exchange setup to upgrade or reinstall Exchange version

If these methods don’t resolve the problem, the problem could be with the Exchange database and not the Exchange server. Mailbox database (EDB) on the Exchange server may get corrupt due to various reasons.

For instance, Exchange has suffered dirty shutdown issues, sudden power loss, hardware or software problem, etc. In such cases, Exchange administrators have to act fast and repair the database to resolve the issue.

To repair such inconsistencies with the database, you can use an Exchange recovery tool such as Stellar Repair for Exchange. It is a highly recommended Exchange recovery tool by Exchange admins and MVPs.

Rating by MVP:


The software repairs a corrupt Exchange database and previews all the mailboxes with mail items such as emails, attachments, contacts, calendar, journals, notes, etc. It also recovers accidentally deleted or lost mailboxes.

After repair, you can export and save the mailboxes to PST or other formats, such as MSG, EML, HTML, RTF, and PDF. It also lets you export the repaired Exchange mailbox database directly to Live Exchange Server or Office 365 account.

It repairs even the severely corrupt EDB files and maintains the database in its original form. Besides, the software is compatible with both old and new Exchange versions, including 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, and 5.5. Also, this software lets you troubleshoot and resolve common Exchange issues without additional permissions via a graphical user interface. Plus, it supports Unicode EDB files and, thus, repairs corrupt Exchange databases in various languages.

To Summarize

Exchange server inconsistency can disrupt email communications and hinder productivity. Thus, it is critical to resolve an Exchange server in an inconsistent state by running the Exchange Setup in Disaster recovery mode, renaming the Exchange server, or by removing the Exchange server object from the AD. All these methods are discussed in this guide to help you fix the Exchange Server is in inconsistent state error.

Further, if the server is not restored and error isn’t fixed by following the methods, it’s probably the Exchange mailbox database that is corrupt or damaged. In such a case, you need an Exchange recovery tool such as Stellar Repair for Exchange. The software can help you repair a damaged database and restore it to the Live Exchange server directly. You may also save the repaired mailboxes from the database to PST or other formats and import the mailboxes in a working Exchange database to resolve the error.

Check out what MVP says about Exchange Recovery Tool from Stellar.

  1. Zaheer Dar January 4, 2019
  2. Jac August 10, 2018
  3. Adams June 21, 2018
    • Eric Simson June 22, 2018
  4. tom andreson June 18, 2018
    • Eric Simson June 19, 2018
  5. Carrie Henderson February 26, 2018
  6. Ricardo Spencer November 23, 2017
    • Eric Simson November 24, 2017
  7. Roy Williams October 26, 2017
    • Eric Simson October 27, 2017

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