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How easy is Exchange server to install and configure?

Posted on 2008-10-08
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
Hello All.

I'm a freelance IT guy.
I have been hired by a firm to manage their exchange server and their workstations.
I bought a few good books and, with online help, have been able to successfully tackle any issues to date.
However, this client has neglected his computers for a long time.  There was some problems the other day with some very bad viruses on several of the workstations.  In the process of troubleshooting I discovered that the exchange server hadn't been updated in a long time.  So I downloaded and installed all the current updates and service packs.  This fixed the email problem.
Unfortunately it also filled up the C drive on the exchange server.
Literally, there is 5mg remaining and nothing substantial that I can see to uninstall.
I'm thinking that I have to set up a bigger server for them.
They have the where-with-all to buy the machine and the already own the software.
I'm just wondering if this project is over my head.
Are there enough good books or resources out there that I could get through it without getting a degree?
This is a pretty small firm, 4 employees total, so I'm sure they don't want to hire a full time network guy/girl at 60k per year.
I'm pretty well versed in computer technology, terminology, and I learn quickly, however I am no expert.

What say you all?

Thanks
Butch
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Question by:ButchDog
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22666853
Please review my web page on boot drive size.  It's quite likely they are fine and just need you to manage the server appropriately.  

http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/bootdrivesize.asp
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22666862
As for exchange, it's pretty easy.  The nightmares come when you have problems, but if it's working smoothly, then you should be fine.  If not, tackle the problems individually.  Installing is pretty easy, but you NEED Active Directory.

Also, a company with 4 users should be using SBS (Small Business Server).  Are they?  If not, then if you change out their server, that's what you should get them.  If they are, then you need to familiarize yourself with SBS more than Exchange.  SBS is a remarkably stable system - IF it's setup and managed properly.  Wizards are VITAL - you MUST use the wizards whenever possible else you run the risk of causing configuration issues that could break other SBS components - it's a VERY integrated system and by not using the wizards, some necessary configurations may not be made properly if you set things up manually.
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22666876
No.  They are using Microsoft Server 2003.
They have the software bought and paid for so I doubt if they will want to buy additional software.
I assume that Exchange Server is included in the Microsoft Server 2003 package?
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22666913
No, Exchange is not part of Server 2003.  It's a separate, EXPENSIVE product that requires it's own CALs.  Exchange IS a part of Small Business Server 2003.  Are you certain they aren't using SBS?  The generally look the same at first glance.  They would have had to spend $1200-$1600 for standard copies of Server and Exchange.  SBS would have cost them (depending on licensing model) $400-700.
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22666919
Thanks for the link to the freeing up disc space article.
I hope that helps.
I know that theirs is a 25 gig partition for the c drive.
The exchange server is on the d drive.
There isn't a whole lot of applications on the c drive so, based on that article, I'm not sure what's taking up so much room.
I shall print that off and take each suggestion one by one.

Thanks again.
Butch
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Expert Comment

by:Jay_Gridley
ID: 22666924
Exchange server is not included in the standard Windows Server 2003 package. It IS however part of the Windows Server 2003 SBS package that Leew references.

I agree with his advice. For such a small office Small Business is the way to go. It's also easy to install and setup. I've done it dozens of times and it works really well, especially if you stick to the wizards as suggested.

Installing Exchange 2003 isn't to difficult either, so I think you'll be fine just installing that also. I can imagine they won't pay for something they already got, so I would think it's just as easy using the existing software.
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22666934
The article includes brief instructions for determining what is using the disk space.  Realistically, if the server is setup appropriately, it should not have more than 10-12 GB used (and that's on the VERY high end).
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22666963
Maybe you're right about SBS.  I'll double check in the morning.
I'm pretty sure that there was a 2003 involved in the title of the server software.
Does SBS come as SBS 2003?

Hey, thanks again to all.
This is the first time I've posted on this site.
I've used it a few times since signing up with little luck.
I had no idea I could get this fast of a response if I posted... and at 2am my time!
That's stinkin' awesome!
And, also, it's nice to get advice without people looking down their noses at those who are less experienced.

I will continue my subscription and will be posting soon... tomorrow no doubt!!
:>)

Butch
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22667030
Yes, Small Business Server 2003 is the product.  There are two editions - premium and standard - premium includes SQL 2005/2000 (depending on the version - there is an SBS 2003 R2 just as there is a Server 2003 R2
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22667047
Hey Leew.

Thanks, that's really good news.
So, if they choose to, or need to, jump on the reinstall what minimum sys requirements should I look for in a server?  How fast should I be able to get it done?  Any books that you recommend?

Thanks again.
Butch
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Expert Comment

by:Jay_Gridley
ID: 22667066
System requirements you can find here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/evaluation/sysreqs/default.mspx

I've personally installed it on the entry level Acer server (G 320 / G330)  and it runs without problems for a business of 10 - 20 people.

If with "How fast should I be able to get it done?" you mean the install time... I usually take about half a day for installing and basic configuration and another half a day for migration of existing services. You could be up and running in about 8 hours. Less if all goes well.
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22667379
Okay.  So a couple more questions to Leew, or whomever.
Leew mentioned the need for using Wizards.
Currently I'm having problems binding smtp with the proper dns server.
I thought I entered the right dns server but it still doesn't work.
Should I run the DNS server setup wizard to fix this?

Also, if I have to reinstall, will the various wizards prompt me for mailbox information, dns information, smtp configuration info, printer info, etc. or will I have to manually configure that stuff.

I found a book at Softpro called Pro Windows Small Business Server 2003 by Tony Campbell.  It gets good reviews on Amazon.  Any idea if this is a good book for my needs?

Thanks again and again and again...

Butch
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22669197
If it is SBS, I suggest you start by reviewing information on my SBS page - www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/sbs.asp
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22670385
Okay.  So it goes from bad to worse!
The available drive space got down to 0k.
So I began to implement the above suggestions for freeing up space.
The pagefile was set at 1.5gig and I bumped it down to 750 meg to try and get some breathing room.
Now it won't boot at all.
I get a message saying that it couldn't find the profile and would log me on to a temporary profile.
Then it stops.

Any thoughts?
Can I boot SBS into safe mode and change pagefile settings?
Is there an SBS repair utility on the install discs like there is in XP?

Yikes!
Butch
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22670574
Here's the specific error message:
Windows cannot load the locally stored profile.  Possible causes include insufficient security rights or a corrupt local profile.
Detail: System could not allocate the required space in the registry log.

I DID do a backup onto a tape drive using the SBS or exchange backup utility.
Not sure if this helps, but...

Any ideas?
Thanks again.
Butch
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22670887
Alright.  I moved the Client Apps from the C drive to the D drive and freed up about 850 meg of disk space.
Now I can boot up again and fix my original problem with the dns, smtp and email.
Not sure where to go from here, but, at least I've gotten the disk space thing taken care of temporarily.

Thanks for all your help.
I'll close this a bit later when I'm sure I'm done with it.

Butch
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22671873
Whoops!
I HAD 850 meg of free disk space.
I've installed nothing.  Pretty much just tried to configure dns and smtp to get email flowing again.
Now, all of the sudden, I get a message saying that I'm low on disk space.
Sure enough, check the C drive and I've got 1.86 meg left!!!!

Any ideas?
Butch
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22671917
Something is going a little nuts.  Reboot the server.  Then find out where the disk space is going using DIRUSE (as I describe in the page).  Also, consider running filemon (sysinternals tool available through technet) to see what is writing to the disk.  
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Accepted Solution

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Jay_Gridley earned 250 total points
ID: 22675828
I personally wouldn't start rebooting a server that's low on disk space.
If it's an older install check c:\windows\system32 for all the $servicepack$ folders. They are for uninstalling Windows Updates and are of no use. That usually free's up quite a lot.

SBS also has it's sharepoint and other monitoring databases on C: by default. I would suggest looking at those as well to see how big they are and if that's causing a problem. You might want to move them to D: .
There's a nice manual for doing so, but I don't have it handy. I'll post back later with it if you still require it.

Also check things like IIS logs and AV logs (I know McAfee stores quite a few...)

JG.
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22678771
So, I did some research and found that there is a virus out there that eats up HD space.
I also noticed that the exchange server databases are taking up more than 12gig of space.
Can I move one of these dbs to the d drive and run the symantec antivirus that's installed on the server?
Maybe move the db, boot into safe mode and run AV?

Butch
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 22680347
please see the link I first posted - not only can you move the databases, you SHOULD move them.

It could be a virus, yes... but it's more likely something else...
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Author Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 22721408
Okay, Case Closed.

After much hand-wringing and sweat and pain, they hired someone who knows more about this than I do.
It took him several days to get it worked out.  Not sure yet what the solution was.

Thanks again to all.

B
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Author Closing Comment

by:ButchDog
ID: 31504137
I never actually solved the problem.  The company for which I work hired someone with more experience in the topic.  That's not to take anything away from the experts on here.  They did a fine job.  Still don't know what the problem ended up being so I cannot assess the validity of some of the experts' suggestions.  Thanks.
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