Tag Archive: Exchange

So, I recently decided to retire my Exchange 2003 server, in favour of Exchange 2007.

There were a lot of reasons for this.

Firstly, my Windows 2003/Exchange 2003 server was an old HP DL380 G3. In itself, a great, reliable server, which cost me only £20 off Ebay, but getting on a bit, and very noisy in my home office, especially combined with the HP DL 360 G2 I was using for an Untangle server, and the newer Dell T105 which was already running Windows 2008 and Exchange 2007.

Secondly, at work we have Exchange 2007/2010, so I had a desire to expand my skills to better enable me to understand the environments I need to support.

Thirdly, I wanted to also migrate a number of sites I ran (OWA, WordPress) over to IIS 7 due to the improved security features, and ease of management.

And last, but by no means least, the two HP servers are making my electricity bill look like that of an actual data centre, so I wanted to retire them both, enjoy the quieter office, and save some pennies.

The migration from Exchange 2003 -> 2007 was really not so difficult, with the only issue being the move of my wife’s mailbox, which reported there may be activesync issues. It would be her account! She did have issues, so I had to re-do the account on both her iPhone and Galaxy Tab, but all was fine after that.

So why, I hear you asking, is it more secure, but more annoying?

Well, certain feature like tarpit are enabled by default, and also it’s more secure when trying to connect over telnet, and it has some excellent anti spam features built in.

Now comes the annoying bit. Many things can be done via the GUI, but if you want to get at all the really neat stuff, you have to visit the Exchange Powershell CLI. Yes, I said CLI.

For example, enabling the anti spam features requires running some scripts from the CLI, as does adding a list of custom blockwords to the anti spam component.

You can add blockwords via the GUI, but it takes FOREVER!!!!

Same goes for blocked email domains and senders.

CLI = power in the case of Exchange 2007 and beyond. I guess I’d better get used to it!!

Since I now have a server with 2 drives instead of 1, it makes sense to move my Exchange data stores over to the new drive, getting them off my O/S drive and taking advantage of the extra spindles and free space. NOTE: I’m doing this with Exchange 2003, so if you have a different version, it may not be suitable, so check first.

It is actually a pretty easy task, with the Exchange System Manager (ESM) doing all the hard work for you.

I’ll be moving the transaction logs, mailbox store and the Public folders.

To do this, start off by firing up the ESM and locating the storage group. Mine was called ‘First Storage Group’, which is the default, but yours may be called something else.

In ESM, right click on ‘First Storage Group’ and select ‘Properties’. There will be a tab labelled ‘General’. Click the ‘Browse’ button, and select the new location. In my case, I had pre-created all the folders I needed under a folder in the root of my new D: drive, so I pointed it to D:\Exchange\Logs. I also pointed the system path here in the same manner so it would use this directory for temporary Ecxhange files.

Click ‘Apply’ and Exchange will make the necessary changes, and that’s the transaction logs moved.

Next, right click on the ‘Mailbox Store’, and select properties. Once the dialog has opened, select the ‘Database’ tab. In the same manner as for the transaction logs, use the ‘Browse’ button to point to the folder where you want the database to be relocated to. You can move just the Exchange database if you want, or move the Exchange Streaming database too. I did both, and pointed at the folders I’d created before starting on my D: drive.

When you hit ‘Apply’, you will (Unless you’ve already dismounted the data store) receive a warning that the datastore will be dismounted. Anybody using Exchange will be disconnected at this point, so be sure to do this when it’s not going to disturb a lot of people.

Click ‘Yes’ to continue, and Exchange will move your data store to it’s new home. Once complete, you’ll need to go in to ESM and remount the store.

Do the same for Public folders if you wish, the procedure is identical, and again the store will need to be remounted afterwards.

Once completed, ensure your new folders have the following permissions to ensure everything works correctly:

Administrators: Full Control Authenticated Users: Read and Execute, List Folder Contents, Read Creator Owner: None Server Operators: Modify, Read and Execute, List Folder Contents, Read, Write System: Full Control.

Although I chose not to delete the old MDBdata directory, you can do so, but you will need to do some registry editing. I recommend this article: Moving Exchange Data Store to a new disk as it has some useful links to aid in troubleshooting this kind of operation.

So, Exchange is now all moved to my D: drive, and so far so good. If I hit any errors, I’ll post here.

Now my Windows installation has been moved to its new hardware home, in order to improve perfomance, I decided to do the following:

1. Move my Exchange information stores to the new second drive.

2. Move my MSSQL databases to the new second drive.

3. Move my MySQL databases to the new second drive.

4. Move my IIS6 website content to the new second drive.

This should improve overall performance since these items will no longer reside on the same drive as the O/S, and more spindles means better read/write performance.

Since each one of these tasks is not that difficult, I thought I’d share with the world! So keep an eye open, they are coming soon.

I’ve been involved in the last year or so, with the migration of an Exchange environment into Gmail, or I suppose more correctly, Google Apps.

It’s all complete now, but I thought I’d expand a bit on what I’ve done, how I did it, the tools I used, and some of the problems I ran into.

I’m also using this as a vehicle to test Dennis Hoppe’s post page associator plugin to drive all my posts about this subject onto a page so everything is a bit easier to find.

If it works as planned, I’ll be sending Dennis a donation!!

So keep your eyes peeled for more about my Google adventure.

Microsoft clearly thinks that Gmail/Google Apps is a threat, since Office 2010 is now set to be online, and, if the news articles are to be believed, it will be free.

Now as yet, I haven’t truly looked at Office 2010 online, so  I don’t feel I’m in a position to comment, but since I have recently migrated an Exchange 2003 environment into Google Apps Premier, I can comment on that.

First, the question I posed, is it worth it? Well in many ways, Google’s offering is well crafted, but it does appear initially to have some disadvantages, but once you get used to a different way of working, many of those do disappear.

Overall, I’d say it is worth it if you feel you want to shift the cost of owning and maintaining over to somebody else, and just do the management yourself. If you are a new startup, and need an email environment quickly, it’s just the job, especially since you can use the free version first, and upgrade later.

I would say my preference is still for Exchange and Outlook, being a dyed in the wool Wintel sysadmin, but Google does offer a credible alternative.

If you are considering a migration, my advice would be plan plan plan, have several people on the project to make sure all angles are covered, and make sure you regularly check in with Google for the very latest migration tools. I know for a fact that the tools changed during the period of our migration, so make sure you have the latest to make the job that little bit easier.

Hopefully I’ll get a separate page about my own migration experiences set up soon.