Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Microsoft Exchange Connections Conference - $100 off registration before Sept 12

Microsoft Exchange Connections Conference - October 31 - November 3, 2005, Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego. Microsoft and Exchange experts present over 40 in-depth sessions with real-world solutions you can take back and apply today. Register by September 12 to save $100 off your conference registration and attend sessions at Windows Connections free!

This promises to be a great conference. I'm presenting a couple of sessions, too.

Problems sending mail when your domain name or host name has an underscore (_) character

I have seen this problem a couple of times over the past couple of years and today I saw a newsgroup posting on it so I figured it was blog-worthy. :-)

Some SMTP services (not Exchange) check the validity of the FQDN that is sent to them by an SMTP client. If the FQDN that is being sent includes an underscore character (_), then they will reject the message. Exchange will keep trying (for 2 days by default) to send the message, then it will NDR it to the sender, but no really good explaination. The only reason I figured this out the first time I saw it was because I put NetMon on the server and watched the SMTP conversation.

So, if your server name is something like EXCHANGE_1 and the domain name (internal) is something like SOMORITA.LOCAL, then Exchange/Windows SMTP will send an SMTP HELO or EHLO that looks like this: EHLO EXCHANGE_1.SOMORITA.LOCAL. Most SMTP systems are tolerant of this and accept the connection anyway. Some firewalls and Unix-based SMTP systems enforce do reverse looks to ensure the domain name is valid or they rigidly enforce the DNS standard and thus will reject the connection. I wish I had versions of these Unix systems or firewalls, but I don't.

If you have a single Exchange server, you can easily fix this without renaming the Exchange server. (Renaming an Exchange server is ugly, ugly, ugly. Don't do it!) Go to the properties of the default SMTP Virtual Server, look at the Delivery tab, click the Advanced button. You will see on this page the Fully Qualified Domain Name. Change that name to something that is properly resolveable from the outside, such as SMTP.SOMORITA.COM, where that is the name that can be resolved from the Internet. Just make sure that you remove that underscore character.

Is WINS required for Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003?

This seems to be a pretty common question on the newsgroups, in design meetings, and in classrooms. I was inspired this morning by Russ Kaufmann's WINS is a Friend of Mine blog entry. Read it! Yes, you should continue to include WINS servers in your designs for Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 networks. Exchange 2003 has some of it's own particular need for NetBIOS name resolution and WINS is the best solution for this. The Exchange 2000 and 2003 setup program, Exchange System Manager, Exchange 2000/2003 clustering, and ExMerge all make a the occasional name lookups using NetBIOS name resolution.

Other reasons (besides the ones that Russ well illustrates in his blog) that I have found include migration. Any migration tool that is migrating from Windows NT 4.0 will need to be able to resolve the NetBIOS name of the hosts in the Windows NT 4.0 domain as well as the domain entries themselves. Trust me, you don't want to be distributing LMHOSTS files on an enterprise-sized network.

Some good references for this include:

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Thinking about upgrading from Exchange 5.5? Your thoughts wanted?

I'm working on a full-day, pre-conference presentation for the Exchange Connections 2005 conference in San Diego. From the amount of postings I see in the newsgroups, there is still a lot of questions related to Exchange 5.5. This tells me a lot of organizations have not yet made the leap to a newer version of Exchange.

So, my question to you is: why? I agree the platform is fairly stable and does what it is supposed to do. What are the other reasons that you (as the Exchange admin / guru/ dude / dudette) are encountering resistance in getting underway with an upgrade? I'd like to hear your thoughts. E-mail me at exchange24seven (at)

For those of you that are San Diego bound and in the market for an Exchange upgrade, I hope you will consider attending my session: Exchange 5.5 to 2003 Migration on October 31 (Monday). Below is a session abstract. I'll try to get an outline of the session posted soon.

Even though Exchange 2003 has been released for more than a year, many organizations are still debating whether or not they should upgrade. A recent survey of Exchange administrators found that over 60% of Exchange installations are still using Exchange 5.5. Once the benefits and features of Exchange 2003 are reviewed, often a number of compelling reasons are found to upgrade.

Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 migration is one of the hottest topics in seminars, books, and newsgroups. There are many paths to choose from and most administrators don’t know which migration path best suites their Exchange organization.

This all-day pre-conference session will cover differing a approaches to Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 and the tools necessary to complete different types of migrations. Third party tools, address list synchronization, and sharing a single SMTP address space. Regardless of where you are in the decision or implementation process, this session will help answer some of those nagging questions and give you tasks to complete for a successful migration.

The first part of the session will include information about performing migrations and choosing the best approach for your situation and your budget. The major third party vendors will be reviewed along their strengths and weaknesses. The second part of the session will include a demonstration of swing migration start to finish.

Jim will share his experiences helping to plan, design, and coordinate upgrades for over 100,000 Exchange 5.5 seats to Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 including tips, best practices, and resources for getting your migration right the first time and minimizing disruption to your users.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Exchange 2003 SP2 - Community Preview Available

Microsoft has released an Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 Community Preview. I recommend you build a TEST server (if you don't have one already), download this beta of SP2 and give it a test run. If you load this in production, you are on your own! This release is unsupported by PSS!!!!

Read the release notes for this preview release before you start. More information FAQs on Exchange 2003 SP2 can be found on the Exchange team's blog.

Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 is introducing some new anti-spam features such as Sender Id (SPF) support and an updated Intelligent Message Filter. Most exciting for some people is the improved mobility features for mobile devices as well as raising the upper limit of the maximum mailbox store size to 75GB on Exchange 2003 Standard Edition. And, of course, lots of bug fixes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Exchange clustering lesson learned

About two weeks ago, a newly installed Exchange 2003 cluster (2-node, Active-Passive) started doing some weird things. We really did not notice until we started trying to run backups and move mailboxes. We had failures while using the Exchange Move Mailbox Wizard in Active Directory Users and Computers or Exchange System Manager.

We found this event in the event log:
Event Type: Error
Event Source: MSExchangeIS
Event Category: General
Event ID: 1182
Than you for participating in the Microsoft Exchange Server beta program. Your license to use this beta version of the Microsoft Exchange Server software has expired. Contact Microsoft Corporation.

We knew for a fact that the original CD was not a beta CD. We had installed at least 30 Exchange 2003 servers that were all running in production using the same source CD.

The reason we were experiencing problems is that 60 minutes (1 hour) from that message popping up, the information store service was stopping. We were then seeing these messages.

Event Type: Error
Event Source: MSExchangeCluster
Event Category: Services
Event ID: 1005
Exchange Information Store Instance (SERVERNAME): The IsAlive check for this resource failed.

Event Type: Error
Event Source: MSExchangeCluster
Event Category: Services
Event ID: 1012
Exchange Information Store Instance (SERVERNAME): The RPC call to the service to take the resource offline failed.

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Service Control Manager
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7034
The Microsoft Exchange Information Store service terminated unexpectedly. It has done this 14 time(s).

Event Type: Error
Event Source: ClusSvc
Event Category: Failover Mgr
Event ID: 1069
Cluster resource 'Exchange Information Store Instance (SERVERNAME)' in Resource Group 'RESGROUPNAME' failed.

The information store was stopping due to the fact that it thought it was a beta copy. The reason? There was some information missing from the HKLM\Cluster hive of the registry.

The valuable lesson? When a Exchange clustered node is evicted from the cluster and then re-joined to the cluster, make absolutely sure that you re-install Exchange 2003, and then put back on the service packs and hotfixes.

Shortly before we had noticed this problem, we had been troubleshooting problems with the cluster and our (overly tightened) security templates. Each of the nodes were evicted and re-joined in to the cluster (one at a time). A re-install of Exchange 2003 was not installed. Some important subkeys and values were removed from the HKLM\Cluster hive when the node was evicted. Not enough to keep the Exchange server from running when it was put back in the cluster, but something was just wrong enough to generate that "Thank you for your participation in the Microsoft Exchange Server beta program." message.

Thanks much to Dave M. from Microsoft that stuck with me and went through a number of steps of checking other things all the while knowing that a re-install was probably imminent.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Crack Outlook PST passwords

Every once and a while, someone asks me about what to do when one of their users sets a password on their Microsoft Outlook PST file and then forgets the password. Believe me, this happens frequently enough. There are a number of utilities that I have seen that can remove the password from the PST file. It does not really crack or hack the PST password, but rather recreates the PST file without the password requirement. Not very good security, I know.

I have found a free utility that will remove the PST password. It is called PST19UPG. This utility was originally designed to upgrade the PST format to version 19. However, one of the utility's side effects is that it can strip out PST passwords.

Keywords: lost password pst crack password forgot pst password

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Speaking of Junk E-mail - Microsoft wins a legal victory against spam

Microsoft has one a $7,000,000US settlement from Scott Richter, dubbed the King of Spam by some. Though, I would like to dub him something else entirely. This is the result of a nearly two year legal battle against this punk who was at one time responsibile for sending nearly 40,000,000 spam messages per year. Will this settlement stop spammers? No. But, I think it is a good start and it surely sets a good legal precendent.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Updated Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail filter

Microsoft has released their July 2005 update to the Outlook 2003 Junk E-Mail filter. The date on the OUTLFLTR.DAT file once this update is applied is 09-JUN-2005. See the Microsoft Knowledge Base article 895658: Description of the Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter update: July, 2005, for more information.