Top 7 Exchange Server Issues That You May Encounter (with possible solutions)!!

With the world rapidly shifting towards digital practices, it has become insanely important for the organizations to employ high-end tools that can fuel productivity of their workforce effortlessly. Microsoft Exchange Server is a good example in this context.

Exchange server has facilitated a reliable and easy-to-operate platform for communicating through messages. It has reduced the overhead expenses that was required to spent on administrative and help-desk operations with its feature-rich interface. In addition to this, it provides larger mailboxes to eradicate the costs of additional storage space.

It won´t be wrong to say that majority of organizations prefer this simplified mode of communication to foster consistent performance. Coming to the security, Exchange server wins here too. It leverages organizations protection against highly-sensitive data through retention, archiving, and leakage prevention features. It works equally well with mobile devices too. This often sounds like a strong reason behind using it as a primary mail server.

On the flip side, there are numerous issues that can deteriorate your server´s performance abruptly that directly hampers organization´s productivity. What are those issues? How to tackle them? If you are stressed with same questions, this post will answer you well.

#1: Inappropriate Sizing and Location of Server´s Storage

The performance of Exchange Server heavily relies on availability of storage. You are required to monitor the sizing needs and select fine location for storing bulk of information along with SMTP queues, transaction logs and the page file that Operating System uses. Make sure you estimate storage capacity accurately keeping factors like future growth, retention of deleted items, existing emails and future emails, increase in transaction logs and unified messaging.

If you are not bound with the budget constraints, this issue can be simply resolved by extending storage anytime you want. But if the budget is a constraint, you can either proceed with ballpark quotations of sizing and location to invest at once.

#2: Poor Configuration of SMTP Connector and Virtual Server

Poor routing configurations for messaging often results into Exchange Server issues. The reason could be administrator´s lack of knowledge about message routing and the myths about SMTP connectors and virtual servers. Basically, SMTP virtual server bounds with a particular IP address and port while connector doesn´t follow such limitations. A proper link between the two enables user to send or receive messages and communicate smoothly. If there will be any change or issue with the connector, it might end up raising issues in exchanging mails.

There are numerous practices to take up for avoiding such conflicting issues like using smart-hosts on SMTP virtual server for specific address space that are generally referred as outbound Internet mail. You can customize the authentication settings for SMTP servers that are facing internet to receive emails from external SMTP hosts available on Internet. Lastly, you can change the relay settings that eases the applications that send emails to external recipients other than your Server organization.

#3: Conflicts in Recipient Policies and Update Service

Generally, there are two types of recipient policies − one generates email addresses and other one segregates mailbox items on the basis of defined parameters like flushing old items to Deleted Items folder. Recipient policies depend on recipient attributes On the other hand, Recipient Update Service relies on domains. It needs domain controller to be pointed every time a Recipient Update Service.is processed. Bringing them together may lead to erroneous conditions.

For using recipient policies to issue an SMTP address from a varying address space, it is recommended to generate multiple UPN suffixes for those domains especially if you want to host customers from multiple formats under a single AD forest. And for faster processing of recipients by RUS, it is recommended to create multiple RUS addressing to domain controllers in the same domain.

#4: Hygienic Messaging System

Hygiene in messaging completely depends upon the framework of antivirus and antispam built in Microsoft Exchange Server. Using such programs is generally recommended for secure systems, but they may backfire when used with Exchange servers. It is imperatively important that you exclude the Exchange Server components including logs, databases and checkpoint files from the antivirus scanners of the system. This will save you from numerous bizarre issues that may turn out hectic to be resolved.

The solution here would be configuring your antivirus settings from antivirus server or console. Make sure you define separate policy settings or the things that you want to exclude for each Exchange server from the console.

#5: Improper DNS Deployment

DNS is the one of the fundamental requirements for setting up Exchange (Active Directory). Its usage can impact the operational behavior of your server. Preferably, DNS servers should be used for name and resolution so that valid ISP´s DNS servers can be pointed. But most of the times ISP´s DNS servers stand blank about the DNS zones that your Active Directory uses as Domain Controllers located for your Exchange Server points invalid or already removed DNS servers.

There are many other components that add issues for Exchange Server like root domain (.) present in the internal DNS servers. You may face email delivery failure when Exchange Server uses DNS server along with root domain. The best way to resolve this issue is configuring such servers with a forwarder that can assist Internet domains name resolution.

Other components of issues standing in the queue are MX records, external DNS zones, pointer records, reverse look up zones and SPF records. Maintaining all these requires consistent efforts − be it about keeping PTR records or publishing SPF records for registered DNS domains.

#6: Limited Mailbox Sizes and Information Stores

All the users having older versions of Exchange Server can savor 16GB space for information stores. Once this limit is reached, you can increase the space by 1GB on temporary basis. The idea of extended limit was to allow administrator managing mailbox space by deleting items not required especially the ones having large size. This requires register key to process swiftly.

You can escape from the sizing issue by upgrading your Exchange Server to the newer version i.e. the Service Pack 2. It has extended the limit of information stores to 75 GB. Though the default size you will get is 18 GB, you can increase the same by creating certain registry value.

#7: Not Monitoring Exchange Server Properly

If you rely on Exchange Server for email communication, it is important to monitor its infrastructure including Essential Exchange (and Windows) services state, Store state: mounted, dismounted, Growth of stores and log files, Disk utilization, Disk performance, Domain controller/global catalog availability, DNS availability, health and performance, SMTP connectivity, performance and health, Mail queue growth, Physical and virtual memory utilization, and CPU utilization.

Large sized companies can easily afford the monitoring systems while small and mid-sized companies can´t. The administrators facing resource constraints can look out for inexpensive options of monitoring tools available out there like freeware, shareware etc. Additional preventive components that low-budget administers can exploit are automatic alerts and fine-tuning canned baselines.

The Final Note

Now that you are familiar with the possible Exchange Server issues and their solution, you can take an effective step to resolve them rather than panicking. If any of the mentioned issues get so worse that stated solutions don´t help, you should consider a reliable third-party tool to bring back your Exchange Server files back in normal state.

Common Exchange Server Problems and their Solutions!! Keep checking this section for new updates

Free Microsoft Exchange tools that are worth your time

Being an IT admin, you must have always wished for a smooth and well-managed Exchange environment. Exchange troubleshooting and administration does not have to be expensive, there are numerous free resources available for Exchange administrators to test, manage, and deploy their MS Exchange environments.

Read full review