Tuesday, 29 April 2014

5 Most Common Exchange Server Problems and Their Solutions

Implementing an Exchange Server successfully needs careful planning and a systematic approach as this can offer many advantages to your business. A healthy Server environment is dependent on its successful configuration and interaction with other elements. One error can severely affect the performance of the whole server and it can create a bad effect on the entire server ecosystem.
Here in this write-up, we will discuss some of the common problems and how to overcome them while successfully implementing an exchange server.

Problem #1: Server Storage, Sizing and Location        
Storage is one of the most important issues in Exchange Server administration as it tends to impact operations directly. Exchange Server storage should ideally meet your performance requirements and present sizing needs of the server information stores. It should also be able to easily manage the location of the information stores, SMTP queues, and transaction logs, etc. that are used by the Windows operating systems. Small and medium sized businesses tend to face most issues as budgetary constraints which prevent them from implementing dedicated email servers and storage subsystems is usually not a problem.

Solution: Choose Performance over Capacity              
During the implementation of an Exchange Server storage, you must always put performance over capacity. The thing to note here is that most businesses give little or no head to performance. You need to measure the disk performance on input/output operations per second (IOPS). It is calculated in terms of light, average and heavy usage. To achieve good performance IOPS should have an acceptable latency. This ensures you wouldn’t encounter any issues with server storage, sizing and location.

Problem #2: Time Issue with Disaster Backup and Recovery.   
A disaster recovery plan is a must for any critical application in your organization. By default, all the stores in Exchange Server storage group would share transaction. Normally these are flushed when all the information is backed up. The problem here is the fact that Server storage groups need to be backed up together. Also, you may encounter another problem - when a large amount of data is being backed up it can severely push up the backup and recovery time.        

Solution: Plan out Disaster Backup and Recovery Smartly         
You must always adhere to the service-level agreements (SLAs) while sizing the stores. Apart from this you must also consider the backup media being used and its sustained transfer rate. This can have a wider impact on the redeployment in case of a complete outage. Media with higher transfer rate would help in faster backup and recovery by implementing multiple storage groups and message stores with separate mailbox servers. This can also speed up the backup and recovery process and reduce the impact on the end users.

Problem #3: Issues With Recipient Policies and Recipient Update Service (RUS) 
There are two major parts of the recipient policy. The first one generates email addresses with Mailbox Manager Settings and the second reports on or eliminates items in a mailbox adhering to certain conditions. It is used to remove items past a certain age in folders like Deleted Items. The recipient policy by default creates two email addresses – SMTP address and an X.400 address. The problem occurs while when you try to delete the email address rules in the default recipient policy.          

Solution: Modify The Rules Instead of Deleting           
The solution is to try and modify these rules to accomplish your needs. Many businesses face complete outage in trying to delete these rules. By modifying the rules, you can easily generate email addresses for an SMTP address space that are hosted on a public/registered DNS domain. The golden rule, never attempt to delete recipient policy and in fact the GUI prevents you from doing so.

Problem #4:  Busy Folders and Offline Address Books               
This is an issue which most businesses encounter when the first Exchange server in an administrative group is removed. It immediately affects availability of free/busy folders and offline address books (OAB). The problem occurs as the first server in an administrative group hosts the site folders for the respective administrative group by default. All the free/busy folders and OAB are stored there and removing them can cause a lot of issues to end users in a firm.  

Solution: Rehome The Folders to another Server       
This issue can easily be overcome by re-homing the free/busy folders and offline address books (OAB) to another server in the administrative group. There are a few things that you will need to keep in mind during this migration and these include the server responsible for generating the Offline Address Book, the server that runs the  Recipient Update Service and also creating an appropriate DNS records within the external DNS zone.

Problem #5: Hygiene of Your Exchange Server Messaging        
Hygiene literally translates to the antivirus and anti-spam framework that has been built within your Microsoft Exchange Server. The most common problem that business encounter is to do with the file system antivirus scanners on Exchange servers. If the Exchange Server databases, logs and checkpoint files are being scanned by these applications, it would enlarge your problems and limit the performance of your Exchange Server substantially. It isn’t restricted to mail flow problems alone and lead to severe issues.                

To start with, you must exclude the server databases, logs and checkpoint files from file system antivirus scanners. You would need to formulate a strong policy that manages the antivirus scanners on servers and client workstations. Also, you should try and implement separate policy for each exchange serve in the console.  

These are some of the common issues that are being faced by businesses that have deployed Exchange servers and the solutions mentioned can help overcome these problems.


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