In addition to the attended installations you have explored up to this point, Exchange can be installed in an Unattended mode, where an answer file provides the answers and selects the options that a user would normally interactively select in the Exchange Installation Wizard.
This feature can come in handy when you have many Exchange servers to install or for disaster recovery when you need to install multiple Exchange servers quickly.
It's important to note that you cannot use this installation method to install the first Exchange server in your organization. This method is only valid for servers that are added to your organization after the first server is installed and configured.
If you plan to cluster your Exchange servers, you cannot use an unattended installation. Likewise, you cannot employ this method in Exchange implementations that mix Exchange versions or for upgrading Exchange 2000 servers (which would have been a nice feature to have for this release.)
To perform an unattended installation, you first need to create an answer file that contains information on all the components and settings for subsequent installs. To create an answer file to use with an unattended setup and launch an unattended setup using this file, follow these steps:
From a command prompt, run D:\setup\i386\setup /createunattend C:\answers.ini (if D: is your CD-ROM drive and C:\answers.ini is the location and filename of the answer file you want to create). This launches the Exchange Installation Wizard. Continue the installation as you normally would, clicking Next to continue after each step.
Accept the license agreement and enter your Exchange product key.
Using the Component Selection dialog box, select the Exchange components you want to install by changing the drop-down list to Install.
Verify the components you want to install, accept the final license agreement, and click Finish at the end of the Installation Wizard to start installation of the components you selected earlier.
Copy your answer file to the server where you want to install Exchange in unattended mode.
From a command prompt, run D:\setup\i386\setup /unattendfile C:\answers.ini (if D: is your CD-ROM drive and C:\answers.ini is the location and filename of the answer file you just created). This launches the Exchange installation process in Silent mode; the user will not be prompted for settings or options.
You can then use the standard logs and events to determine the outcome of the installation as you would with a normal, attended Exchange installation.
With the actual installation out of the way, you can move on to configuring your new Exchange server, which is covered in the next chapter.