Introduction to Exchange 2003 – Crash Cart
Excuse me, do you have a minute? If you have a slack half hour then consider putting together a disaster recovery Crash Cart. Here is a project that will repay handsomely when ever you have a disaster. My idea is to assemble all the bits and pieces that you need should an Exchange 2003 server crash or be stolen.
Topics for Exchange 2003 – Crash Cart
- Disaster Recovery Software
- Spare Parts
- Documentation for Disaster Recovery
- Where to store the crash cart?
Exchange 2003 CDs, Windows Server 2003 CDs. Also the CD keys.
More CDs with the backup software itself, also Anti-Virus programs.
Service Packs SP1. Firmware upgrades.
What other software could you add? …………………………………
Here is a free tool to monitor your Exchange Server. Download and install the utility, then inspect your mail queues, monitor the Exchange server’s memory, confirm there is enough disk space and check the CPU utilization.
This is the real deal – there is no catch. SolarWinds provides this fully-functioning freebie, as part of their commitment to supporting the network management community.
Disks, Network Cards, Extra RAM sticks, Power Supplies, Leads (various).
Spare Machine – Laptop or perhaps a basic ‘shuttle’ server.
Screw drivers. Soldering Iron.
What other hardware could you add? …………………………………
Keep adding bits to the crash cart. When you have a spare few minutes, or if you have keen junior engineer with time on their hands, feed the cart with goodies. Your efforts will repay with interest when there is a disaster to recover from. In my mind’s eye the crash cart is an old supermarket trolley with three compartments:
Procedures: Who does what? Where are the backups tapes kept?
Black book: Passwords, phone numbers of suppliers, web site addresses.
What other documents would you need? …………………………………
Import users from a spreadsheet, complete with their mailbox. Just provide a list of the users with the fields in the top row, and save as .csv file. Then launch this FREE utility, match your Exchange fields with AD’s attributes, click and import the users. Optionally, you can provide the name of the OU where the new mailboxes will be born.
- Bulk-import new users and mailboxes into Active Directory.
- Seek and zap unwanted user accounts.
- Find inactive computers.
In my vision the crash cart always stored in a locked cupboard under the stairs. However, storage is tricky, it has to be accessible, but you don’t want the crash cart to be destroyed in the disaster. Hmm… perhaps you need two crash carts, one stored offsite along with backup tapes.
Prepare for that disaster recovery day. If you take up this Crash Cart idea, do make sure that you regularly update the software, the hardware, and most of all – the documents.