When it comes to computers, we all know that the world is not inherently a safe place. Because of this, most IT departments make it a best practice to install service packs soon after their release. In the case of Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1, however, you may be more anxious to install it for its Exchange enhancements than for its security patches.
SP1 includes one feature administrators have requested for years. After applying SP1, the Move Mailbox tool can move mailboxes between administrative groups. SP1 also upgrades other parts of Exchange to make mailbox moves more transparent to the user—and less work for the administrator.
Migrations and consolidations will now be easier. And this makes life easier for companies that often move mailboxes from site to site.
SP1 also makes it easy to configure RPC over HTTP. Many administrators found this Exchange 2003 feature interesting, but they found it frustrating to set up and therefore never implemented it.
SP1 also adds many other enhancements that make Exchange more robust, including enhanced Recovery Storage Groups and a new database page format that corrects single-bit errors.
It's always been a best practice to try an upgrade in a test environment before applying the upgrade to production equipment. Another best practice is to fully back up servers before and after any upgrade. These best practices are critical when applying SP1, especially since SP1 changes the database page format.
Keep in mind that there's no uninstalling SP1—after you've started the process, the only way back is a complete rebuild or restore. Even if you're enthusiastic about installing SP1 in your Exchange environment, make sure you take the time to do it right.
You can download Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 1 from Microsoft's Web site. For more information about SP1, check out the Exchange Server 2003 Technical Documentation Library.