Best Practice Ezine #54 Exchange Tips (2)

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Best Practice Ezine #54 Exchange Tips (2)

This Week’s Contents

Guy’s latest 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. This is the last week of my special offer at $6.95.  Incidentally, the PayPal payment mechanism is now working perfectly.

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

Exchange 2003 SP1

Now that the dust has settled on the Windows Server 2003 SP1 debate, I would like to say a few words about Exchange Server 2003’s SP1.  I’m guessing that you have already installed SP1 but you have not looked at precisely what this service pack does for your Exchange Server.  Now if my guess is wrong, and you haven’t yet installed Exchange Server 2003 SP1, then I humbly suggest that now is a good time, it’s been out for 9 months with no major horror stories.

As a follow up to my zany idea that each service pack has its own distinctive personality; if you think of Windows Server 2003 SP1 as an officious security guard, then Exchange 2003 SP1 is like a diligent secretary.  Exchange’s SP1 makes no fuss, and just gets on with filing away the new changes in their pigeon holes. 

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.

Preventing error -1018

Exchange 2003 SP1 is a rare service pack in that it has one killer feature, and that is to fix the notorious database -1018 problem.  Without going into too much detail error -1018 means the mailstore maybe corrupt and you may need to restore from backup.  The sad thing about error -1018 is that there is often nothing really the matter; what happens is that the ESE engine raising a false alarm on a checksum calculation.  If you still get error -1018 (or similar), then rather than restore from backup, it would be quicker to try ESEutil /d or /p.  Talking of ESEutil, I thank Andy M for writing in with this piece of advice:

A note from the field (and blessed by MS): before running essential /d then make sure you take good backup and more important after running essential /d then make sure you take a good backup. The reason: log files that pre-exist the defragged database cannot be played against the database. The first backup secures you data from essential /d failing and the second backup ensures you can replay the subsequent logs against the new database.  Andy M

Dealing with BadMail

Another reason for applying Exchange 2003 SP1 is to take advantage of the new response to Badmail.  Email that Exchange cannot deliver ends up in a special folder under \mailroot\vs1\badmail.  The point is that Mr Nobody ever checks this folder.  Only when the disk is full does the administrator bother to delete the email cluttering the Badmail folder.  Even then, I doubt if actually reads any of the emails.  SP1’s response is that of a ruthless secretary, it just deletes BadMail rather than storing it under the \mailroot folder.  The result is less desk usage and less work for the administrator.  If you prefer the old way, there is a registry setting to revert to the old BadMail settings.

Other Highlights of Exchange 2003 Server SP1:

  1. Easier Mailbox Recovery – Less need for ExMerge
  2. New RPC over HTTP menu on the Server Icon
  3. New Journaling features – Should you ‘grasp the nettle’ and decide to keep copies of email?
  4. Faster Replay of transaction logs from a restore

ExPBA v NDRs web pages

I would like to give you an insight into publishing pages on a website.  Whenever I create new pages I am fascinated to know which topics will be the most popular.  Now I predicted that my page on ExBPA (Exchange Best Practice Analyzer) would attract a great deal of attention.  Where ever I go to customer sites managers and techies tell me that they want Microsoft to provide them with more reporting tools.  Well, the ExPBA delivers reports on all aspects of Exchange, ExPBA is wonderful, it’s free and it’s the way of the future.  What I particularly enjoy is that feeling of combining business with pleasure, yes I am doing useful work in discovering weaknesses in an Exchange 2003 system, but yes it is pure fun using all the menus and gadgets.  The icing on the cake is the way that ExBPA not only tells you what’s wrong, but also shows you how to fix the problem.  Did I mention that ExBPA does baselines and reports?  Much to my surprise, that ExPBA page of mine attracts only half the hits of my NDR (Non-deliverable reports page).

Perhaps it’s like newspapers, what people want to read is doom, gloom and the gossip. No one has made money from selling a ‘Good News’ paper.  From my website hits, I conclude that what network administrators prefer is the low-down on NDR’s error messages, rather than the ‘Good News’ of ExBPA.  It seems their priority is to track down the meaning of NDR codes such as 5.2.2 – ‘The Recipient has exceeded their mailbox limit’.

Tips from Guy’s Exchange 2003 Disaster Recovery and Troubleshooting ebook

Here is a selection of tips from my ebook.  This is the last week of my special offer at $6.95.  Incidentally, the PayPal payment mechanism is now working perfectly.

View Mailbox information – When you examine the Mailbox store in the Exchange System Manager, you don’t always see all the information that you expect.  I have two suggestions, firstly, add extra fields, from the View menu select Add Columns, for example Storage Limits.  Secondly if you add or modify mailboxes and nothing seems to have happened, try a right-click on the Mailbox, then select: Run Cleanup Agent.

Queues – The Queues folder, which is visible in the Exchange System Manager, has improved steadily since Exchange 5.5.  Consider moving the underlying Queue directory to a separate disk.  Another tip, when troubleshooting queues, freeze suspect messages while you investigate.  The benefit is that you don’t get a build-up of other messages while you try to solve one particular problem.

WinRoute – One of my favourite little utilities, available on the Exchange 2003 CD.  WinRoute displays useful information about connectors, and Routing Group Masters.  However, its best feature is an instant display of which routes are ‘Up, and which are ‘Down’.

Raw SMTP Commands – I also have a few pages on pure SMTP commands such as ‘ehlo’ and ‘rcpt to’.  In addition to explaining the tricky raw SMTP syntax, I have list the success and failure codes, for example 550, mailbox not available.  Incidentally, many of these numbers are related to the error codes that you see in NDRs.

See more on Exchange 2003 – Whole Section here

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