Exchange 2010 Checklist

When upgrading your Exchange server to 2010, here is a list of things you should review before moving forward:

1. Clean up old mailboxes: Backup and remove old/Stale mailboxes from exchange 2003 system
2. Clean up mailboxes: Remove deleted items, Purge junk mail folders
3. Identify any archive PST files that users may have on their local systems and move and label them to a central location on the server if they wish for them to be imported into the existing system
4. Identify All domains to be accepted by the mail server
5. Identify need for Active sync. Active sync policies need to be identified and new policies need to be distributed to end users.
6. Mailbox quotas need to be identified
7. Identify retention policies
8. Identify need for any devices that need to relay email to the mail server
9. Spam Rules need to be identified
10. Verify all clients are using outlook 2003 or greater
11. Best practices needs to be run against the server and any issues identified and resolved.
12. Identify certificate information. Unified communications certificate needs to be purchased based on machine name, public name of server, Normal certificate will hold 5 FQDN names unless the internal domain is the same as the external domain.
13. New 2008 x64 server needs be spun up in virtual environment partitioned off so that information store and log files can be stored on their own server.
14. Exchange needs to be installed and configured on server
15. Smart hosts need to be configured if used
16. Configure retention policy
17. Configured email policy
18. Configure any relay’s needed on the network
19. Database and log files need to be moved to appropriate locations on the server
20. Firewall rules need to be implemented to allow port 25 traffic to the server or another port if so indicated in requirements.
21. Connector needs to be built to communicate between the 2003 and 2010 exchange servers
22. Test of migration of one mailbox and verify mail flow between the servers and the outside
23. Schedule move of mailboxes to new server
24. Import PSTs as needed
25. Configure Relays for devices
26. Public folder replication needs be setup and moved to the new server
27. Complete testing
28. Setup external url information in 2003 access to web is via https://FQDN/exchange and in 2010 it is https://FQDn/owa if the client would like to keep /exchange a redirect needs to be configured.
29. Anti virus needs be setup on the exchange server
30. Backups of the server need to be configured, tested and verified
31. Test of active sync and active sync rules
32. Test of all secure certificates
33. Verify all clients connect smoothly to the new server using Auto Discover.

OST Corruption



Common Reasons Let a Microsoft Exchange OST File Corrupt or Damaged


There are many reasons that will make your Exchange offline folder (.ost) file corrupted or damaged. We classify them into two categories, i.e., hardware reasons and software reasons.

Hardware Reasons:

Whenever your hardware fails in storing or transferring the data of your Exchange OST files, the OST files will likely get corrupted. There are mainly three types:

  • Data Storage Device Failure. For example, if your hard disk has some bad sectors and your Exchange OST file is stored on these sectors. Then maybe you can only read part of the OST file. Or the data you read are incorrect and full of errors.
  • Networking Connection Failure . When you synchronize the OST file with the server through a network connection, if the network interface cards, cables, routers, hubs and any other devices constituting the network connection have problems, then the synchronization process will be aborted and the OST file is likely to get corrupted.
  • Power Failure. If a power failure happens when you are accessing or synchronizing the OST files, that may leave your OST files damaged.

There are many techniques to prevent or minimize the OST file corruption due to hardware problems, for example, UPS can minimize the power failure problems, redundant network can reduce the network problems, and using reliable hardware devices can also reduce the chances of data corruption.

Continue reading “OST Corruption”

Exchange Mailboxes and Disabled AD Accounts

We have all had the issue for a client where an employee leaves and their account should be disabled and usually someone would like to receive email on their behalf…

 Be aware in Exchange 2007 if a Domain account is disabled the mailbox can still receive emails.  This was not the default behavior in Exchange 2000 or 2003.  Exchange 2003 however did have a hot-fix which changed its behavior to that of 2007.  Please see the link below for more information on this.  The point here is to make sure everyone is aware disabling an AD account will not necessarily stop email from being delivered to a mailbox.

Troubleshooting and Resolving BlackBerry Activation Issues

blackberry activation

By Ahmed Datoo, VP marketing, Zenprise

Zenprise is partnering with BlackBerry Cool to address how to resolve some of the most common BlackBerry activation problems. Through a series of 10 articles, readers will learn how to identify key log file errors, tests and configurations critical to identifying the root cause of enterprise activation issues. Continue reading “Troubleshooting and Resolving BlackBerry Activation Issues”

Exchange Connectivity Test

For those who ever wanted to test activesync connectivity as well as web connectivity to an exchange here is a great tool that Microsoft has put out there for us.

You can test it but make sure the exchange server you are testing it on is running 2007 or 2010 otherwise you get errors.

Have fun and I’ve been able to use it a couple of times so if you have any questions I’ll be happy to help out with it.  It works really well when you are getting ready to setup smartphones on a network and need to verify settings prior to inputting them and then trying to troubleshoot from the phone.

Blackberry Express: Upgrade from Blackberry Professional

I recently performed two BESX migrations in both test and production environments and here are some key takeaways:

  • There is no migration or upgrade method from Blackberry Professional
  • Make sure you have a good backup of both the file and database
  • Remove all phones from Professional
  • Uninstall Blackberry Pro
  • Use SQL Management Studio to delete the BESMgmt database completely
  • If you’re running SQL Express 2005, you’ll need to make sure you’re running SP-3, if not be sure to upgrade first
  • Reboot the server
  • Delete the “Research In Motion” registry keys under HKLM/Software and HKCU/Software
  • Download and follow the pre-installation checklist, paying special attention to all pre-reqs, including:

o   Besadmin account must be a domain user, but local admin on the exchange server

o   Send-as permission settings

o   AD account settings for DES/AES

  • Download and install the current version of BESX
  • Typically a reboot will be required, be sure to logon as a local admin
  • Complete the installation process
  • Once completed, it may take up to 30 minutes before the Administrator Website will work properly, until then you’ll get 404 errors – just hold tight. J

Also here are some less standard configurations but can cause a lot of trouble:

  • Double check to make sure you’re not running in Terminal Server “application mode” (if you are, be sure to remove TS, and run in remote admin mode only) (I recently found an exchange server running in application mode)
  • There can be problems connecting to the web console if you have a mixed 2003/2008 Domain Controller environment (With the forest set to 2003 functionality). See kb18186; however these problems do not exist in pure 2003 or pure 2008 domains.

Blackberry Enterprise Server Express (BESx)

Last month Blackberry released a much anticipated Express version of BES which is targets for Small and Medium Businesses just like the ones Apex supports. This provides all of the key features most of our clients are looking for a absolutely no licensing cost. Here is my quick review/comparison of both BES & Express; along with why I prefer Blackberry over the competition.

Blackberry Enterprise Server Express

  • 100% FREE for both the license and CALS; does not require a SQL Standard license
  • Support Exchange Server 2003/ 2007 and SBS 2003/2008
  • Supports up to 75 users when installed on the Exchange Server
  • Supports up to 2,000 users when installed on a dedicated server
  • Requires ONLY the Standard Data Plan (BIS) from the cell provider, and does not require the more expensive enterprise data plan
  • The biggest feature difference between BES and BES-Express is that there is a limit to 35 policies, versus 450+ policies for management
  • Missing features that we don’t typically use is high availability (multiple BES servers) and advanced monitoring

Continue reading “Blackberry Enterprise Server Express (BESx)”

Exchange Information Store Limits

For those of you that don’t already have this information handy:

Exchange Standard 2000 & 2003 (pre-SP2) has a hard mailbox limit of 16GB and the store will dismount when this limit is reached. There is a registry edit detailed here (MS KB 813051) which is used to permit you to mount the store and perform maintenance (purging deleted items, mailbox cleanup, dumping data to PST, archiving and deleting terminated employees, etc) – and then of course performing an off-line defrag to reclaim that space. Once the store size is under 16GB, you must then undo the registry change so your limit is back to 16GB (if you leave it at 17GB, you could paint yourself in a corner the next time the store grows). After that, depending on the client (since I’m not aware of an Apex standard) you should look at implementing one or more of the following: mailbox limits, mailbox maintenance (purging deleted items etc), implementing e-mail archiving to PST files, etc.

Exchange Standard 2003 (SP-2 and later) comes out of the box with a 16GB limit on the information stores, but you can change this to up to 75GB which is detailed here (MS KB 912375). I would recommend you choose a size smaller than 75GB, based on two factors: (1) you should set a store size smaller than your available physical storage; (2) you want it smaller than 75GB so if it reaches that limit, you’ve got wiggle room to increase it and perform maintenance to decrease the stored data.

Exchange: Recover Hard Deleted item

emailThe lifecycle of a delete e-mail message in a Microsoft Exchange Environment is similar to most business garbage collection.

  1. Message is deleted (paper is put in the under desk garbage)
  2. Delete items folder is emptied (the janitor collects the garbage and puts it in the dumpster)
  3. Exchange performs maintenance to purge the deleted items (the  dumpster is collected by the garbage company)

At various stages the document may be recoverable, but it becomes increasingly difficult. Also, you can skip to the last step by performing a hard-delete (pressing shift-delete).

Recovery is as follows, respective to the numbers above: Continue reading “Exchange: Recover Hard Deleted item”

Exchange Backups with a GFS Retention Scheme

backup storage tapeSomething realized while working a a client was that we typically configure a G-F-S (Grandfather-Father-Son) backup retention with backups been retained by month going back for the prior year. So typically at best our granularity for recovery is a 30-ish day window. However, the default configuration in Exchange is to provide a 14-day retention for deleted items. A quick check here shows that there is a window where data can be received and deleted without ever being written to a recoverable backup.

Two takeaways:

· Exchange retention periods should exceed the longest period between retained backup media (typically around 30 days; but some rotations use true month end, others last Friday of the month, etc., so this date should be adjusted upwards)

· Making sure the customer is aware that we have a retention based system and it is not a true e-mail archiving system, which can add to backup costs substantially.

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