Best Practice Ezine #47 – Exchange Tips

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Best Practice Ezine #47 – Exchange 2003 Server

Here are my tips to help you get the most from your Exchange server in general and the Exchange System Manager in particular.

Guy’s Litmus Tests

This week I would like to go back to my roots and feature some good old fashioned Litmus tests. If you remember, Guy’s Litmus tests ask one simple question with two possible answers. The response to the Litmus test sorts the amateurs from the professionals. Actually, the best Litmus tests are those that you create to quiz your people about your network. Meanwhile, here are my ideas to try on your Exchange 2003 server.

Mailbox stores and storage groups

How many mailstores are there on your Exchange 2003 server?

Professionals divide one large Exchange 2003 mailstore into smaller stores.
Amateurs say, ‘ Where on the server do find these multiple stores?’.

The answer is to launch the Exchange System Manager, navigate to the Server Icon, right-click ‘First Storage Group’ and create a new mailstore. When you create several stores it makes restoring an exchange database so much more manageable. If you have multiple disks then you get performance benefits when you locate storage groups on different disks.

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets.  IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:

For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges. 

For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker

Physical Security

Do you lock your server room?

Professionals keep their servers in a locked room. Last week I visited a company, sadly their server had just been stolen. Two men dressed in official looking overalls, simply breezed and loaded the Exchange servers onto a trolley and then into a white van. They even had asked the so-called security guard to sign their fake papers explaining that the servers were being fitted with new mother-boards.

System Policies

Can you create a System Policy in Exchange 2003?

Professionals deploy Exchange 2003’s System Policies to control mailbox limits and  ‘Keep deleted items’.

Amateurs set the limits individually on each user’s properties sheet because that is the only way that they can control users’ mailbox size.

The problem that amateurs face is that there is no initial System Policy folder in the Exchange System manager.  So right-click the ‘First Administrative Group’ and create a new system policy folder.  Now you are ready to populate the folder with policies.  Once you have finished designing your policy, right-click and then assign to the mailstore.

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Test Machines

Do you have a test server to practice Exchange 2003 configuration?

Professionals have a test machine to experiment with Exchange 2003 configurations.
Amateurs say, ‘ Our company cannot afford a test network’.  So they have to practice on a live network.

I realize test machines are a contentious subject.  Those who have them say, ‘what’s the fuss, of course you need a test network’.  Those poor people without test machines, say our company just cannot afford them.  (Perhaps they should show their boss this article!)

GAL Display Names

Can you change the order that Firstname Lastname display in the Global Address List?

When you use ADSI Edit and LDAP to change the user-Display, it only changes future email addresses. So professionals edit the Display Names before deploying Exchange 2003. Amateurs make the change after a year with the result that half the user names are in one format, and half in the other.

Replace VPN with RPC over HTTP

How do your remote Outlook 2003 clients connect to their Exchange Server?

Professionals use HTTP over RPC.  Amateurs still use a VPN.

RPC over HTTP Proxy was voted one of the top 3 reasons to migrate from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003.  Professionals implement this feature because they only need to open port 443 (or port 80) on the external firewall.  RPC over HTTP is a wonderful concept offering greater security for the server, and and seamless connection for the Outlook client.

Amateurs persist with VPN and open up all manner of ports on their firewalls.

I have to admit that when I first tried to setup RPC over HTTP it was difficult. In the beginning I had to grapple with certificates to get the SSL to connect. However once it worked, it gave no further problems.

See more on Exchange 2003 – Whole Section here

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