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Use the Exchange 2007 Toolbox to Troubleshoot

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10/17/2010 4:50:33 PM
Each tool has its own purpose and we consider them now, starting with the top.


Keep in mind that many other tools exist beyond what we have in our Toolbox. Troubleshooting is not an easy task at times, and we need to reach for a different set of tools, such as Eseutil.exe, which is used for offline defragmentation and analysis of the database’s integrity. Other tools can be located on Microsoft’s website and can be used to perform everything from benchmarking (Load Generator, Exchange Stress and Performance 2007, and Exchange Server Jetstress) to gathering information (Exchange Profile Analyzer and Information Store Viewer) and more. The point is that you should investigate more tools if you plan to be a solid Exchange Administrator.

The Best Practices Analyzer

Considered a management tool, the Exchange Best Practices Analyzer (ExBPA) performs monitoring and troubleshooting by ensuring best practices are being followed between your Exchange servers and the AD environment.

With the ExBPA, you can perform a baseline of your system to report differences it sees from that baseline and future scans. You can also perform a health check, a health/performance check, a permission check, a connectivity check, and the readiness check.

To run the tool, perform the following:

Open the EMC.

From the Navigation Tree, select Toolbox.

At the top, under Configuration Management Tools, select Best Practices Analyzer, and click Open Tool from the Actions pane.

The tool checks for updates, and then you can click the link Go to the Welcome Screen.

You can begin a new scan or look at a preexisting scan you performed at an earlier time. In this case, click Select Options for a New Scan.

You are asked to provide the name of the AD server (usually this is filled in for you), and you can show advanced login options if you need to change your credentials to access the AD server. Then click Connect to the Active Directory server.

As you can see from Figure 1, you need to provide a name for the scan, select a scope (an entire organization or individual servers), and then choose the type of scan to perform. Keep in mind that if you choose a baseline, it could take up to two hours. Then choose the speed of the network and click Start Scanning, or you can schedule a scan to occur at a better time.

Figure 1. The Exchange Best Practices Analyzer tool.

After the scan has completed, you can choose the link View a Report of This Best Practices Scan.

You are shown a report that provides critical or informational issues that are affecting the health and performance of your Exchange organization. Suggestions are also made to correct the problems that are found.

When you see a problem, select it and you are shown options to learn more about the problem and how to resolve it.

When complete, close the analyzer.

Disaster Recovery Tools

Within the Toolbox, we have two disaster recovery tools.

Database Recovery Management

When a disaster strikes with your database (or disks), the Database Recovery Management tool can help you to bring your system back online.

To run the Database Recovery Management tool, perform the following:

Open the EMC.

From the Navigation Tree, select Toolbox.

Under Disaster Recovery Tools, select Database Recovery Management and click Open Tool from the Actions pane.

Select Go to Welcome Screen.

You are asked for server and user information. Provide a label. Make sure you have both an Exchange server and domain controller name in the required fields. If there is a need to alter your logon options, you can select Advanced Logon Options and then click Next.

You are asked to select one of the following tasks:

  • Manage Databases

    1. Analyze log drive space

    2. Repair database

    3. Show database related event logs

    4. Verify database and transaction log files

  • Manage Recovery Storage Group (if you have one created; otherwise you have to create one first)

    1. Merge or copy mailbox contents

    2. Mount or dismount databases in the recovery storage group

    3. Remove the recovery storage group

    4. Set up ‘Database can be overwritten by restore’ flag

    5. Swap databases for ‘dial-tone’ scenario

  • View Results

    1. Go to Results Page

Obviously, there are many different ways to go with this tool.

Database Troubleshooter

This tool is not quite as powerful as the Recovery Management tool. You use this tool in situations where the database won’t mount or there are inconsistencies in the log file—perhaps you have run out of disk space or the log files have run out of numbers for the log file naming (which is unlikely, but it can happen).


The procedure for running the Database Troubleshooter tool is straightforward; you simply provide the number of minutes of database events that you want to detect (0 indicates all). The default is set to 120.

Mail Flow Tools

When you have a problem with your Exchange server that isn’t a database issue or a physical problem with a server, oftentimes it is a mail flow issue. Mail isn’t flowing properly, mail is getting stuck somewhere, mail isn’t leaving your organization to go to the outside—these issues can cause frustration on the part of your users.

Several tools within the Toolbox can assist in this regard. Let’s examine them one at a time.

Mail Flow Troubleshooter

When using the Mail Flow Troubleshooter, you can indicate the symptom that you are trying to track down. The symptoms include the following:

  • Users receive unexpected nondelivery reports when sending messages.

  • Expected messages from senders are delayed or are not received by some recipients.

  • Messages destined to recipients are delayed or are not received by some recipients.

  • Messages are backing up in one or more queues on a server.

  • Messages sent by user(s) are pending submission on their mailbox server(s) (for Exchange Server 2007 only).

  • Problems with Edge Server synchronization with Active Directory (for Exchange Server 2007 only).

Message Tracking

This is not a new tool in Exchange, but it is one that has evolved over time and we appreciate its purpose. Message tracking is enabled by default on the Hub and Edge Transport servers and the Mailbox servers.

You can use the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) to search message-tracking logs; however, the EMC offers a search tool with a simple interface to work with. If you wish to use the EMC to search the message tracking log, perform the following:

Open the EMC.

From the Navigation Tree, select Toolbox.

Under Mail Flow Tools, select Message Tracking, and from the Actions pane, click Open Tool.

On the Message Tracking Parameters page shown in Figure 2, you can select checkboxes to include criteria in the message-tracking search. You can configure the following:

Figure 2. The Message Tracking tool.

  • Recipients

  • Ender

  • Server

  • EventID (by default is set to RECEIVE)

  • MessageID

  • InternalMessageID

  • Subject

  • Reference

  • Start

  • End

Make your configuration choices and then click Next.

PS Note

You can see the Exchange Management Shell command listed at the bottom of the Message Tracking Parameters with the options you have provided.

It’s impossible to say what you will look for at any given time, so these options change depending on your needs. Notice the extreme flexibility in this tool. Here you have the EventID, where, if you select the down arrow, you can see several options such as RECEIVE (which is used to look for messages received by the server), DELIVER (used to search for messages delivered to a mailbox), or SUBMIT (used by Mailbox servers that submit items to the Hub Transport servers).

Queue Viewer

The Queue Viewer is a tool that shows SMTP messages that have not completed their journey. These might be inbound or outbound messages, and they can be delayed for any number of reasons.

From within the Queue Viewer, you can choose the server you wish to connect to (the default is the local server). You are shown three different views of the queues: all queues on the server, all messages in all queues on the server, and all messages filtered for a specific queue.

You might be able to determine whether messages are sitting in the queue because DNS is failing, Hub Transport servers are not available, or perhaps the destination server is unavailable. Another feature is the capability to remove with NDR and remove without sending NDR, which is great for spam that is coming into your server.


If the Queue Viewer doesn’t start because the Transport Service isn’t starting, you might have an IPv6 issue. Before you try to start the service, go to your network properties, and even if IPv6 is enabled, provide a static IP address for the connection. Then start the Transport Service and you will have no trouble starting Queue Viewer.

Routing Log Viewer

The Routing Log Viewer is a new tool in Exchange 2007 SP1. It is designed to work on the Hub Transport and Edge Transport servers. This tool can help analyze the routing topology and determine whether the way mail moves is the best method for the site topology.

When you open the tool, it is a blank box. To open log files, perform the following:

From within the Routing Log Viewer, select File, and then select Open Log File.

You can type the name of the transport server, browse server files, or browse local files, depending on where you are running the tool. If you are on the Hub or Edge Transport server already, just click Browse Local Files. Then select a document you wish to analyze and click Open.

Here you can see the following tabs:

  • Active Directory Sites and Routing Groups—Shows your sites and routing groups. You can see if a site whether a hub site (and if it is, the next hop site will be indicated, too). You can see the total cost to deliver mail to the site. The Backoff path is shown, too (in the event there is a problem delivering a message).

  • Servers—Lists all the servers within your Exchange organization. You can see the proximity from the local server to those other servers, so you are able to see a map between the servers. You can see server roles for each server, and the total cost to send messages from the local server to other servers.

  • Send Connectors—Shows a list of all SMTP connectors for your Exchange organization (including foreign connectors and routing group connectors).

  • Address Spaces—Shows address spaces within the organization. Each space has a cost-associated connector that is ordered.

If you note any configuration changes that must be made, such as if you determine that messages are not routing according to the lowest cost path, consider reviewing your topology and making some changes.

When you are finished analyzing, you can close the tool.

One of the more interesting features of the Routing Log Viewer tool is that you can load different routing table logs and see the differences between them. If there are changes between them, they are highlighted and you can see the modification quickly.

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