Microsoft Exchange 2003 Maintenance Plans

How do _you_ maintain your Microsoft Exchange 2003 server?

I'm willing to split up these points among anyone who contributes new and valid maintenance plans.

Be descriptive please, tutorials are appreciated, as I'm learning as I go.

Also, stupid question, but it is safe to defrag RAID5 configurations through standard Disk Defragmenter, no?

If so, should anything be done before defragmenting a high-traffic Microsoft Exchange 2003 environment?
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SembeeCommented:
Maintenance of an Exchange server.

Look at it.
Back it up using an Exchange agent or NTBACKUP.
Check the AV is updating correctly.

Whizz through the event logs to see whether there are any errors.

Thats about for me.

Exchange looks after itself. It does maintenance on its database every night.

It is usually when people start trying to do other things with Exchange that problems start.

Defragging RAID 5 arrays are fine.
Defragging a RAID array with Exchange installed...
Once a server is in production I don't defrag the drive with Exchange databases on it.
Ever.

Is this a dedicated box? IE it does JUST exchange, nothing else.

The trick with Exchange is to set it up properly - good quality hardware, built using the best practises, then leave it alone.

Simon.
Exchange MVP.

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flyguybobCommented:
I worked for an organization that started to rely heavily on the Microsoft Operations Framework, or MOF.  While it does not detail step-by-step procedures, it does describe what tasks should be performed and at what interval they should be performed.  From there you can develop your own procedures.
The link:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itsolutions/cits/mo/mof/default.mspx

At one time Microsoft published a full guide for Exchange.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2003/library/opguide.mspx

At this client we had a technical writer spend 4 months gathering and documenting all of our procedures, including our custom procedures.  From there we spent around 2 months mapping e-mails into procedural documents.  Approximately 6 months later we had a rough operations guide.   After this guide was produced we were notified of the MOF papers and given pre-release copies.  We started looking through the best practices, adding to our procedures (both technical and political).  The downside is that this guide had a lot of proprietary client information and I had developed the procedure for employees to turn it in when they left the company…and I followed that procedure.  (The time sheet did not get signed until that book was turned in and the final time sheet had been filled out on the web.)

So, developing such a guide can be a daunting task, particularly if you have a large environment with multiple servers.

In addition to that, I also suggest that you ensure your file-level anti-virus is not scanning your databases, logs, queues, etc.  I also recommend that you contact your vendor to tweak your mail server settings.  This particular question/article is for Symantec.  Check with your AV vendor regarding their specific best practices.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Email_Groupware/Exchange_Server/Q_21300420.html
http://bobchristian.blogspot.com/2005/02/symantec-mail-security-settings.html


villagelighthouse_llcAuthor Commented:
Well, thanks for the help. I was hoping for some more responses (thus 450 points), but maybe you can earn the remaining points by helping out with this [related] question. We had a slight hiccup with the server on Friday, which resulted in my having to repair the priv1.edb and pub1.edb databases with eseutil program. I learned some things during the process, which brought up some questions.

If I understand things correctly the server writes data to the e00.log file, and regularly commits that data to the .edb databases. Upon doing so the transaction log is the named e0000x.log (where X is 1, then 2, etc.). Assuming I'm correct, can anyone answer me this:

01. How often should transaction logs (e0000x.log) be cleared? They can be cleared while the store is still mounted, yes? I believe that Veritas BackUp Exec can be configured to clear these log files after a successful backup; what is your recommendation on these?

02. I understand that Exchange 2003 does database defragging on a daily basis by itself. Is it a scheduled task that can be changed?

03. Should offline defragging be done to the databases using eseutil program ever?

04. It seems from what I've read online that realtime scanning of the drive containing Exchange is frowned upon, but I personally am not comfortable with leaving the entire drive unscanned. What are your recommendations? Perhaps I just prevent it from scanning the .edb and .stm files that make up the Exchange database? Maybe even include the logs, or just the whole "mdbdata" subdirectory?

We have installed Symantec Anti-Virus Small Business Edition 8.1 on our Exchange server, which offers "File System Realtime Protection" and "Microsoft Exchange Realtime Protection", but in all the help documentation it does seem to be written as if the software is installed on the end user's workstation. The software also came with Symantec Mail Security For Microsoft Exchange, which I have yet to dive into, but I'm assuming it's more Exchange-friendly. Has anyone used this, or have other recommendations?
flyguybobCommented:
1.  Allow the backup (Veritas, NTBackup, whatever) to flush the committed logs.
2.  You can change the time of the maintenance for the store, yes.  If I remember correctly this maintenance time (window) includes the online defrag.
3.  There are occasions to use ESEUtil.

Village -
I just had a friend write up a maintenance and operations plan for their corporation.  It took him about 6 weeks to get back to me with the information that they had completed their first draft.

We can't hold ourselves out here for hire...but if we could I could guestimate that an O&M for Exchange 2003 would take several weeks to produce and would be expensive.  Granted, you may be able to find Operations and Maintenance plans out there on Google or through the MOF.

...and for someone to write a decent O&M for Exchange 2003 would take about 3 weeks to properly evaluate the client's environment and get the dox written.

...and never run disk defrag on a server with an active database.
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