Test Exchange 2013 AutoReseed setup to let automation help your organization

After setting up AutoReseed in Exchange 2013, follow these steps to test it and make sure it works correctly.

AutoReseed is a new feature in Exchange Server 2013 that will automatically reseed a failed database, eliminating

the need for an administrator to manually do it.

In part one, we covered a brief introduction of how AutoReseed works and the steps to configure it in Exchange 2013. The next step in the process is to verify your AutoReseed setup is ready for failure.

Disks offline
Figure 1

To test an AutoReseed setup, you'll need to simulate a disk failure. The easiest way to do this is to take a disk offline using the disk management snap-in.

Right-click the disk you want to take offline and select Offline (Figure 1).

Now you'll have to wait for the magic to happen. It can take up to 30 minutes before the spare disk gets mounted in place of the failed disk.

In the meantime, monitor the Event Viewer for a series of events in Application and Services Logs > Microsoft > Exchange > High Availability > Seeding. You should see an event that looks like this:

EventID 1109      High Availability


Automatic Reseed Manager is starting repair workflow 'FailedSuspendedCopyAutoReseed' for database 'DB001'. WorkflowLaunchReason:

This event immediately follows:

EventID 1124      High Availability

Automatic Reseed Manager is beginning attempt number 3 of execution stage 'Resume' for database copy '<dbname>' as part of repair workflow 'FailedSuspendedCopyAutoReseed'.

This is actually AutoReseed telling you it started a repair attempt. It will do this three times in a 15-minute interval. If it can't repair the situation in these three attempts, AutoReseed will go ahead and mount the spare drive.

This event denotes the failure to repair the database in its current location:

EventID 1119      High Availability

Automatic Reseed Manager failed to resume database copy '<dbname>' as part of repair workflow 'FailedSuspendedCopyAutoReseed' after a maximum of 3 attempts. The workflow will next attempt to assign a spare volume and reseed the database copy.

AutoReseed will then automatically continue the workflow, and you'll see the following events in chronological order.

EventID 1124      High Availability

Automatic Reseed Manager is beginning attempt number 1 of execution stage 'AssignSpare' for database copy 'DB001' as part of repair workflow 'FailedSuspendedCopyAutoReseed'.

EventID 1125      High Availability

Automatic Reseed Manager has successfully assigned spare volume '\\?\Volume{<guid>}\' mounted at 'C:\ExchangeVolumes\Volume3\' for database copy '<dbname>' as part of repair workflow 'FailedSuspendedCopyAutoReseed'. The workflow will next attempt to reseed the database copy.

EventID 1125      High Availability

Automatic Reseed Manager successfully completed repair workflow 'FailedSuspendedCopyAutoReseed' for database '<dbname>'.

Mount Points configuration
Figure 2

The result from AutoReseed is immediately noticeable. The third disk has automatically been configured with the mount points the first disk was originally configured with (Figure 2).

The original disk now has no mount points. This ensures no disasters would happen if the disk magically reappears.

Recreated folder structure
Figure 3

Another thing you'll see is that AutoReseed automatically recreated the folder structure from the failed disk (Figure 3).

Once these things have happened, you'll see that the databases have also automatically reseeded (Figure 4).

Databases AutoReseed

Figure 4

Reassigning a spare drive

To reassign a new spare drive to the Database Availability Group, follow these three steps:

  1. Swap the failed disk with a new one.
  2. Create a single simple volume on the disk and make sure it's completely empty.
  3. Assign a mount point to the disk that points to C:\ExchangeVolumes\<volumenr>; this can be the folder the original failed disk was mounted to.

AutoReseed will automatically pick this up and have a new spare drive to use in the future.

About the author:
Michael Van Horenbeeck is a technology consultant, Microsoft Certified Trainer and Exchange MVP from Belgium, mainly working with Exchange Server, Office 365, Active Directory and a bit of Lync. He has been active in the industry for 12 years and is a frequent blogger, member of the Belgian Unified Communications User Group Pro-Exchange and a regular contributor to The UC Architects
podcast.

This was first published in September 2013

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