Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 – SP1 (Service Pack 1)

Introduction to Exchange 2003 Server – SP1

Surely, its coincidence, but all the even numbered service pack’s seem so much better than the odd SP numbers?  SP1 for Exchange 2003 is indeed on of the great service packs; check out the features that would bring to your server.

Topics for Exchange 2003 Server SP1


7 Benefits of applying SP1

Here are good reasons to apply SP1 to your Exchange 2003 server.  The benefits range from improved security, to curing event log errors and making migration easier.

  1. Cure the dreaded -1018 Jet errors.
  2. Easier mailbox recovery.
  3. SP1 disables BadMail.
  4. Advanced Journal features.
  5. New Interface for RPC over HTTP
  6. Faster replay of transaction logs during restore
  7. ExDeploy upgrade – New Cross-site migration tools.

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1) Cure the dreaded -1018 Jet errors.

Here is a ‘Killer’ reason to install SP1, to stop all those -1018 Jet error messages in the application log. 

A problem found in the Application log event -1018


MSExchangeIS (248) Synchronous read page checksum error -1018
((1:4109 1:4109)(0-426159)(0-430876)) occurred.
Please restore the databases from a previous backup.

See more on -1018 error  here

This is an example of the service pack making Exchange 2003 more reliable.

Tip for Exchange 2003 Server SP1.  Apply service pack to the front-end servers firstIf you have Front-End back-end Exchange servers, then apply SP1 to the front-end servers first.

2) Easier mailbox recovery.

When you use the Recovery Storage Group to restore old mailboxes, you no longer need to use ExMerge to extract mailbox data into the regular storage group.  Once you have restored a mailbox store to the recovery storage group, the new Wizard completes the job without calling for ExMerge.

In this example, SP1 makes a tricky recovery procedure a little easier, for instance you no longer need ‘Send As’ permission on the mailboxes.

3) SP1 disables BadMail.

It seems that no-one bothers with BadMail, or to be precise, the BadMail folder.  So Exchange 2003’s SP1 is ruthless and just deletes any mail that cannot be delivered.  It’s rather like setting your recycle bin options to never hold any files.

Disabling BadMail is a two-edged sword.  It removes the need to carry out the chore of inspecting the BadMail.  It does not provide an easy way of giving you the choice.  There is a registry and also a tool called BadMailAdmin if you want more control.  See more on BadMail here

4) Advanced Journal features.

The time will soon be here when everyone will have to keep copies of email.  This is more a reminder to (re-)consider journalizing.   SP1’s new features make sure you also journal Bcc (Blind copies).

In this instance SP1 cures a deficiency in the email journaling engine.

RPC- HTTP Exchange 2003 Server property sheet5) New Interface for RPC over HTTP

What you get with SP1 is an extra tab on the Server Icon called RPC-HTTP.  RPC over HTTP enables the full Outlook 2003 clients to connect to the Exchange server over the internet.   Outlook 2003 clients no longer need an VPN.  Moreover, at the server end, you only have to open ports 443 or 80.

As you can see for the diagram, SP1 supplies settings for both front-end and back-end Exchange 2003 servers.

Here is a good example of a service pack saving you from having to edit the registry to get a feature working. See more on RPC over HTTP

6) Faster replay of transaction logs during restore

The time restore takes to replay one 5 MB transaction log file has been cut from 20 seconds to 5 seconds.

7) ExDeploy upgrade – New Cross-site migration tools.

SP1 introduces an update of that wonderful wizard – ExDeploy.  The main new feature is to migrate mailboxes across sites or Administrative Groups.  Previously there was a ‘gocha’.  You cannot move Exchange 5.5 until you go to native mode, but when you switched from mixed mode, you could no longer see the Exchange 5.5 servers.  SP1 and ExDeploy now do break the viscous circle and enable move mailbox in mixed mode.

Here is in example in which SP1 over-comes a weakness in migrating mailboxes.

When is the right time to apply a service pack?

When it comes to deploying service packs there are two opposite views.  The timid never apply the latest service pack, they always stay one version behind.  This is such a shame, as they miss on new features for a long time.  Their view is wait until other people iron out the bugs.  This is a worthy idea, but they carry it too far.

On the other hand the Gung-ho apply the service pack within 24hrs of it release.  Their viewpoint is let us get our hands on the lovely new features.

For once I recommend a middle line.  Do not apply service packs straight away, but test them on your machines with your software, if nothing untoward surfaces during the test, then roll-out the service pack. 

The problem is that no-one, not even Microsoft, could test every possible of combination of hardware, software and service pack.  As a result once in a blue moon a strangeware program and widget hardware combine to cripple a server.  The only way to find if the gremlin has your number is to test the service pack on a test machine.  Testing need not be risky, take obvious precautions such as backing up BEFORE you apply the service pack.  If the worst comes to the worst, try safe mode, uninstall.  Failing that, restore from backup.

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Known Issues with Exchange 2003 SP1

  • Event ID 9665 Problem with memory on machines with more than 1GB of memory, the solution is to adjust boot.ini by adding the /3GB and USERVA = 3030 switches.
  • Outlook Web Access (OWA) – S/Mime needs a hotfix if you have XP with SP2.
  • Outlook Web Access (OWA) – Blocks XML attachments.
  • Exchange View Only Administrators require the right to create objects in the global namespace
  • Exchange Domain Rename Fix-up Tool (XDR-Fixup.exe) does not update the search filter attribute on recipient policies, address lists, or query-based distribution groups

Example of Jet error -1018

Problem found in the Application log event -1018


MSExchangeIS (248) Synchronous read page checksum error -1018
((1:4109 1:4109)(0-426159)(0-430876)) occurred.
Please restore the databases from a previous backup.


  • Try and find out what is on the damaged page or leaf
  • Investigate what caused the problem
  • Evaluate the chance of repair

Eseutil /M \\mailserver\e$\exchsrvr\mdbdata\priv.edb /p4109 > Exch.txt

Initiating FILE DUMP mode…
      Database: priv.edb
          Page: 4109

             pgnoThis <0x02360004,  4>:  4109 (0x00000c22)
             objidFDP <0x02360018,  4>:  19 (0x00000013)
     hecksumParity <0x02360000,  4>:  4269350574 (0xfe791eae)
        ** computed checksum: 157180847 (0x095e63af)
         dbtimeDirtied <0x02360008,  8>:  426159 (0x000000000004bafd)
                cbFree  <0x0236001c,  2>:  436 (0x01b4)
              ibMicFree <0x02360020,  2>:  3608 (0x0e18)
           itagMicFree <0x02360022,  2>:  3 (0x0003)
 cbUncommittedFree <0x0236001e,  2>:  0 (0x0000)
               pgnoNext <0x02360014,  4>:  3108 (0x00000c24)
               pgnoPrev <0x02360010,  4>:  3088 (0x00000c10)
                   fFlags <0x02360024,  4>:  2050 (0x00000802)
           Leaf page
           Primary page


More info Q262196

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As service packs go, Exchange 2003 SP1 is a great vintage.  However, if you are worried about side-effects, then testing, testing and more testing is the only answer.  However, once you are happy there are no unpleasant surprises, what is there to gain by waiting?  Apply that SP1 for Exchange 2003 to your servers.

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