Best Practice Ezine #53 Exchange Tips (1)

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Best Practice Ezine #53 Exchange Tips (1)

Contents for this week’s Ezine:

Move the logs or database files to a separate disk

It is a good idea to place your Exchange or SQL databases on a separate disk from their transaction logs.  This has the twin advantages of faster performance and greater fault tolerance.  In the case of Exchange 2003, it is easy to move the priv1.edb database to a new disk.  Even if you did not originally plan separate disks, you can still move the files to a new volume.  What you need to do is launch your Exchange System Manager and navigate to the Mailbox store, properties and then the Database tab.  Naturally, you have to dismount the store, and I would always make a backup first, but otherwise moving the log or database files is remarkably easy and satisfying.

Incidentally, while you are examining the .edb and .log files you can see the time of the last backup.  It’s always interesting to check if the machine thinks the backup took place, at the same time that you thought the backup took place.

Guy’s new Exchange 2003 ebook – Disaster Recovery and Troubleshooting.

This my biggest ebook to date.  Learn how to retrieve email from numerous disaster scenarios.  Sift through ideas to protect your server pro-actively.  I also give you 20 troubleshooting tips to cure common Exchange problems.  The ebook runs to 75+ pages

Check the contents of my Exchange Disaster Recovery and Troubleshooting ebook

Practice a defrag with eseutil

If you are running short of disk space and you have never defragged the databases, then try eseutil /d.  I confess to a hidden agenda with eseutil, I want to encourage you to practice in a calm, unthreatening situation.  My point is that a defrag is a relatively stress free task, something for a quiet half hour.  On the other hand, if its disaster recovery emergency, the heart beat increases, panic sets in and you can easily make a mistake.  Now suppose that the only way to salvage the Exchange database is eseutil /r or /p.  If you are familiar with eseutil because you’ve tried a defrag, then the chances of success are high.  However, if you are under pressure and the /r repair switch is your first experience of eseutil – then good luck, you will need it. 

If you take up my challenge, the trick is, before issuing any eseutil commands, to navigate from the cmd prompt to the exchsrvr\bin folder.  Otherwise all you get is the ‘not an internal or external command’ error message. Oh yes, if you really are short of disk space try eseutil /d /t: and set the temporary defrag file to a disk where there is sufficient space.

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.

Start building a crash cart

I would be interested to know what you think of my next challenge, which is to build a crash cart.  The concept is to collect spare computer parts for use in case of an emergency.  Cables and network cards are easy to obtain, but how about a spare disk, RAM stick or even a whole computer?  My ideal crash cart would be an old supermarket trolley under the stairs, but in reality, I have to settle for an old sports bag in the spare bedroom.

Configure Deleted Item Retention

Are paper memos are a dieing breed?  Maybe, but the role of the memo will live on as email.  My challenge is to send a memo to your Exchange users explaining how the Deleted Item Recovery feature of Outlook can save them time (and also save you a boring job).  Naturally, you have to do your bit and configure the Exchange 2003 Mailbox (not server icon) for Keep deleted items for (days).

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

Navigate to the Global Settings folder, Connection Filtering.

I am comfortable with the Exchange System Manager console.  That said, it sometimes takes me 2 or 3 attempts before I find the correct menu, particularly in the Global Settings folder.  So, I throw down another challenge to you: launch Exchange System Manager, navigate to the Global Settings folder and check your Connection Filtering.   Spam remains a moving target so I bet that you will find at least one setting that will reduce unwanted email on your Exchange server.

Would a ‘dead letter’ account be of any use?

My last challenge is from ‘Mad’ Mick’s selection of tips.  My old friend ‘Mad’ Mike is obsessed with getting the very last CPU cycle out of his servers.  Mike’s latest paranoia is that his Exchange server is wasting its energy sending out NDRs.  Let me explain.  Being a shade eccentric Mike has a high turn over of staff.  When they leave they still get email, but as Mike has deleted their accounts, the result is an NDR.  As these ex-users get loads of junk email, there are loads of NDRs.  Consequently, there is some (minimal) extra load on the Exchange server.   Mike’s solution was to create a ‘dead letter’ account.  Just an ordinary Active Directory Mailbox enabled user, but with an extra SMTP address for each ex-employee.  The result that there is no need for an NDR, and not much disk usage as Mike sets the ‘dead letter’ account to delete email older than 2 days automatically.

See more on Exchange – Whole Section here

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E 5 Outlook  • Free Exchange Monitor  • Exchange 2010  • Windows Server 8   •Free Syslog Utility