We’ve all been there: Those days when you have a problem on the server but can’t quite figure out how to fix it, and the IT director is breathing down your neck to get the issue resolved. Whether you’re running a small setup or running several DAGs stretched across multiple datacenters, working as an Exchange administrator can be challenging. To make matters worse, you may not have the right tools or know where to go for troubleshooting information. To help ease the stress, I’ve compiled a list of items that a new or seasoned Exchange administrator may want to have in their tool bag.
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Top Exchange Administrator Tools and Resources
The Exchange Team Blog – The official Microsoft Exchange Team blog, where you can get the latest information on all things Exchange, good or bad. There are postings about the latest updates, reported issues, and best-practice guides. You'll definitely want to bookmark this site to bookmark or subscribe to the RSS feed.
PFDAVAdmin – PFDAVAdmin is a tool that can be used to perform tasks on public folders and mailboxes in Exchange 2000, 2003, and 2007. If you’re looking for a tool that checks permissions of your Public Folders and can propagate permissions down to subfolders, then this is the must-have tool. Personally, I think this is a great tool to manage bulk permissions and replicas for Public Folders. The interface is simple, very easy to use, and it can be installed locally on your workstation. PFDAVAdmin can also connect to mailboxes, check the content of the mailboxes, and report the findings to you through an export.
ExFolders – Exfolders is the updated version of the PFDAVAdmin tool that seasoned Exchange admins have used on previous versions of Exchange to manage Public folders. If you’re running Exchange 2010 and Public Folders, then you will definitely need this tool. This updated version now has the ability to connect to multiple mailbox stores at once, which wasn't possible on the previous version. One of the drawbacks to the new version is that it’s only supported to install on the exchange server where the Public Folders is installed. Even with the limited install requirement I still find this tool useful and have used it quite often when having to perform bulk permissions on the Public Folders.
MFCMAPI – This is a tool that allows you to access MAPI stores, such as a user’s mailbox, to troubleshoot mailbox issues. This tool can be a little intimidating at first glance, but it’s not too bad once you get a feel for it. MFCMAPI can be used to address corrupted free/busy data, locate items in the Recoverable Deleted items, and delete items in the mailbox.
Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer – This tool can be used to test connections to your Exchange server using EWS, Outlook Anywhere, SMTP, and even ActiveSync connections. The GUI is simple and tests are so easy to run that you can walk a user through a test over the phone. The recently updated version allows users to run the tool, save the results, and send to you to analyze the findings. To read more on the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer, check out the Exchange Team blog.
Calendar Checking Tool – This tool allows you to check your calendar for potential issues, including delegation issues, free/busy info, and an automatic booking feature. There is no GUI for this tool; it is strictly all command lines, which can be intimating to some administrators. The tool can be run against mailboxes that are stored on Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010 and running either Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010.
Outlook Configuration Analyzer Tool 2.0 – This will provide a report of your mailbox and Outlook Profile configuration. It can be a useful tool for any tech or admin to determine problems with a user’s Outlook profile.
Microsoft Exchange PST Capture – This is a very helpful tool if you are importing users PST files into their regular or archive mailboxes. The tool can be used either with or without an agent, and it will search for a user’s PST file and import the contents to the desired mailbox. There is a console that is installed on a server that allows you to centrally manage the imports.
Exchange Server forums – I’ve resolved many issues by simply browsing through the forums and following some of the advice that was posted online. If you can’t find any related postings, you can post a question yourself and see what advice the community will give you.
Exchange Server cool community links – This is a page that list some really cool MVP sites, Exchange blogs, and other Exchange-related sites. It’s your one-stop shop of Exchange Server-related links, including Exchange Server Pro and Microsoft’s Outlook Team Blog.
Petri IT Knowledgebase Exchange articles – Whether it be an article on How to Perform a Remote Device Wipe with Exchange, how to Set Out of Office (OOF) for Another User in Exchange 2010, or you just need Five Reasons to Deploy Exchange 2013, we've got you covered.
The worst part about troubleshooting an issue is not having the right tools at hand to do your job. Hopefully this listing can provide some assistance to anyone that is just getting into the field -- or even serve as a refresher for seasoned Exchange administrators. Remember, it’s not always about how much you know -- it’s whether you know how to find the information if you don’t already have the knowledge.
Feel like we left something out? Let us know in the comments section!