Top 10 tasks for new Exchange administrators, part 2

Are you a new Exchange administrator? Even if you aren't new, check out part 2 of this Tip that tells what Microsoft says are your top tasks and our take on their advice.

Yesterday, I talked about an article that Microsoft has posted on its web site, called " The Top Ten Tasks for New Exchange Administrators."

While I found the Top 10 list useful, there were four items that I didn't think needed to be on the list. Today...

I'm going to talk about what I would replace them with.

Just to refresh your memory, the list that Microsoft compiled had the following tasks:

1. implement security
2. create a mailbox
3. open Outlook Web Access
4. backup mail and public folder databases
5. create a public folder
6. create an e-mail distribution list
7. set a mailbox quote
8. connect Exchange to the Internet
9. accept mail for a domain
10. configure the default e-mail address for new user accounts

My opinion is that only these 6 tasks need to be on the list:

1. implement security
2. create a mailbox
3. backup mail and public folder databases
4. create an e-mail distribution list
5. set a mailbox quote
6. configure the default e-mail address for new user accounts

Here are the four tasks that I think should be added to the list.

7. Linking an orphaned mailbox to a user account

When you delete a user account you don't necessarily have to delete the user's mailbox. However, if you don't delete the mailbox, the mailbox becomes disconnected and must be attached to a user account before it can be used again.

To associate the mailbox with a user account, open the Exchange System Manager and locate the mailbox. You can find it at Administrative Groups | your administrative group | Servers | your server | First Storage Group | Mailbox Store | Mailboxes. Now find the mailbox that you want to reattach, right click on the mailbox and select the Reconnect command from the resulting shortcut menu. You will then have the opportunity to select which account you would like to link the mailbox to.

8. Freezing and unfreezing message queues

Sometimes if you need to perform maintenance on a server it is necessary to stop message flow first so that no messages are lost. You can do this by freezing and then unfreezing the mail flow.

To freeze a message queue, open the Exchange System Manager and navigate to the queue that you want to freeze. For example, if you wanted to freeze one of your SMTP queues, then navigate to Administrative Groups | your administrative group | Servers | your server | Protocols | SMTP | Default SMTP Virtual Server Queues | your queue. Now, right click on the queue and select the Freeze All Messages command from the shortcut menu. To unfreeze the queue right click on it and select the Unfreeze All Messages command.

9. Message tracking

Message tracking allows you to track information about each individual message that passes through your server. You can record things like the sender, recipient, subject, date and time. To enable message tracking, open the Exchange System Manager and navigate to the server that you wish to enable message tracking for. Now, right click on the Server and select the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu to reveal the server's properties sheet. On the properties sheet's General tab select the Enable Subject Logging and Display and the Enable Message Tracking check boxes. By default Exchange will keep seven days worth of logging information on file, but you can adjust this number to meet your needs. Click OK to accept the changes.

If you want to actually track a message, open the Exchange System Manager and select the Message Tracking Center option in the Tools container. This will cause Exchange to display a form that you can use to fill in search criteria.

10. Restarting Exchange services

This task may sound a little lame and at first you might assume that it's at the bottom of my list because I couldn't think of anything else. But that really isn't the case. Although Exchange has improved over the years, I have run into many situations with older versions of Exchange in particular in which the solution to a problem would be to stop and restart a particular service. For example, sometimes when the MTA queues back up, you can get mail flowing again by stopping and restarting the Message Transfer Agent Service.

To stop a service, select the Services option from Windows's Administrative Tools menu. This will launch the Service Control Manager. Now, right click on the service that you wish to stop and select the Stop command from the resulting shortcut menu. To restart the service, right click on it and select the Start command from the shortcut menu.

Is there a task that you think should be on the Top 10 list that isn't? Let us know! Send us an e-mail at editor@searchexchange.com and tell us what you would include on your list that is missing from ours.

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as the CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, Tech Target, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies, and numerous other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web sites at http://www.brienposey.com and http://www.relevanttechnologies.com.

This was last published in April 2004

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