Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Exchange server POP3, Queue management in SBS 2003 (book excerpt)

POP3 Connector
It’s with great pride that the SBS development team created the POP3 Connector that allows external POP3 e-mail to be downloaded on a schedule and “mapped” to an Exchange SMTP account. Translation: You’re using POP3-based e-mail at your ISP today (say my POP3 account of harryb@nwlink.com) and you want that mail delivered seamlessly to your SBS network e-mail (in my case, harryb@nethealthmon.com). It’s the POP3 Connector that facilitates this mapping between disparate e-mail accounts (and account types) and performs the download delivery function.
Configuring the POP3 Connector in SBS 2003 is much simpler than prior SBS 2000 releases, because it’s now got a direct link in the Server Management console! In the Server Management console, click Internet and E-mail under Standard Management. Then select Manage POP3 E-mail followed by a click on the Open POP3 Connector Manager link. The result is displayed in Figure 6-8.
Notes:
Figure 6-8
The POP3 Connector is configured on this property sheet via the Mailboxes and Scheduling. Because it’s not really part of the SPRINGERS storyline, this figure is a simple “look and see.”
BEST PRACTICE: In its heart of hearts, the POP3 Connector is best used as a transition tool to help you migrate your POP3-based e-mail (and associated Internet identity, such as harryb@nwlink.com) to your SBS-based Exchange SMTP e-mail and Internet identity (e.g., harryb@nethealthmon.com). There is much power in having an Internet identity that closely relates to the name of your organization and isn’t a generic e-mail domain name (e.g., JUNO and other large ISP identities). In fact, one of the slides in the Microsoft Partner PPT in late 2003 widely circulated in the public SBS 2003 hands-on labs and other venues cites hosting your own SMTP e-mail as a true benefit to SBS 2003. It’s the POP3 Connector that can help facilitate this transition.
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But hey - that’s not to say that some folks don’t use the POP3 Connector on a permanent basis to maintain POP3 e-mail on an on-going basis. This can be done without harm, without foul.
I know across this book I sound like a broken record, but I’ll delve deeper into the POP3 Connector in my advanced SBS 2003 book.
BEST PRACTICE: Oops. I almost forgot a late-breaking discovery regarding the POP3 Connector. There I was in late 2003 teaching a bunch of attentive and smart Microsoft Partners in Bangalore, India, when I was asked the following question: Can the POP3 Connector be configured to leave a copy of the e-mail on the e-mail server at the ISP? After horsing around with it, the answer appears to be no.
Queue Management
While I’ll go into more detail on Exchange queue management in my forthcoming Advanced SBS 2003 book, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least pay lip service to this matter in this more introductory text. Inbound and outbound e-mails awaiting processing live in queues. A point of failure in Exchange can occur at the queue, and it’s not uncommon for someone to post to the newsgroups that e-mail is “stuck in the queue.”
BEST PRACTICE: As an example, when outbound e-mail gets stuck in the queue, it can slow down the entire SBS server machine. One cause for this can be that spammers have sent e-mail into your Exchange organization to a nonexistent e-mail account (say superuser@springersltd.com) and you have somehow configured Exchange to send a nondeliverable report (NDR) back to the spammer (over the Internet) that basically says said user doesn’t exist in your organization. Well, when the spammers return e-mail address is itself fake, Exchange will try and try again to deliver the NDR and queue blockage will result.
Pardon me while I shout, but NDRs are ENABLED BY DEFAULT IN SBS 2003! This could create the above situation out of the box on your SBS 2003 network. So, clearly the point of the above story and
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shouting is to turn off NDR delivery that will go out over the Internet. This occurs by deselecting the Allow non-delivery reports checkbox on the Default Properties dialog box (this is the property sheet for the Default object under Internet Message Formats under Global Settings in the Exchange System Manager under Advanced Management in the Server Management console). This is shown in Figure 6-9 after the correction has been made.
Figure 6-9
Please promise you’ll turn off the Allow non-delivery reports checkbox here to prevent queue build-up.
Possibly you’re a reader from Missouri (the “Show Me” state) and you need to see e-mails in the queue to better understand what we’re talking about here. Or perhaps you’re sinister and want to see to whom users are e-mailing messages (this is SPYING and could be considered bad behavior). That is accomplished by drilling down from Server Management, Advanced Management, selecting the Exchange System Manager, selecting the SPRINGERS1 domain object, and clicking Queues. Then select the queue of your choice, such as Messages
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queued for deferred delivery followed by clicking the Find Messages button. You’ll see the messages that exist in that queue.
BEST PRACTICE: One last point about Figure 6-9 above. Did you know that SBS 2003 and Exchange are contributing by default to the health, welfare, and safety of your home? That is accomplished by an ounce of prevention. What? Look closely at Figure 6-9 and notice that Allow Out of Office responses are disabled by default. That way, if one of your users utilizes the Out of Office response capability in Outlook 2003 when he travels for business or pleasure, the bad guys who spam said user don’t receive notification that the user is out of town and his home is wide open for theft! Seriously, an Out of Office response that is sent over the Internet is an open invitation for bad guys to rip you off! If you think that’s bad, it could be worse, as a woman real estate agent once pointed out to me. What if you were using your vacation time at home and the bad guys, having received your Out of Office reply, decided to come by for a quick burgle. Her point was that she’d rather get ripped off while not at home than to risk personal harm when the bad guys appear. A valid point!
16GB Store Limit
Something that really freaks out some SBSers is the fact that Exchange Server 2003 standard edition, which is the SKU placed in SBS 2003 (both standard and premium edition) has a 16GB data storage limit for all stores combined. In the old days, 16GB was a ton of space, but now with a mailbox approaching 1 GB or more per user, you can easily see how you might overtax Exchange’s storage limitation at the information store level. Why have mailbox sizes increased so much in the early 21st century? Well, a generation ago, the Church Lady (played by Dana Carvey) on Saturday Night Live (a popular US comedy show that won’t die) would have blamed...SATAN! I’d rather put my faith in the fact that folks are using their Exchange-based mailboxes as filing systems to manage their business information. In this case, the Outlook application accessing the Exchange-based mailbox has replaced traditional NTFS-folders viewed from Windows Explorer as the information repository of choice. Yours
truly is truly guilty as seen in Figure 6-10, where the offline data storage file for Outlook (OST file), which is representative of my Exchange mailbox, is approaching 1.2 GB in size!
Figure 6-10
All you would need is 16 users like Harry (that’s me) in your organization with SBS 2003 to exceed the information store-level storage limit in Exchange. Ouch!
BEST PRACTICE: Did ya’ catch my point in passing above? Multiple Exchange stores are allowed in SBS 2003. That question came up during the SBS 2003 hands-on lab tour by a bright student in Phoenix, Arizona. The reason you might create multiple stores relates back to another hands-on lab tour titled “Go To Market” in early 2003. The example the student completed in the Exchange section related to creating a second Exchange store titled “executives” that allowed a restoration, performed at the store-level, to be first accomplished for the executives whilst the proletariat waited and ate cake.
Respecting the Dearly Departed
A network administration trick as old as the origins of NetWare and ArcNet (some of you probably join me going back to the early days of local area networks) is the idea that you disable but not delete user accounts when someone departs from a organization (such as leaving a job). Later, at a future date when you’re convinced the individual won’t return, you can delete the user account that you’ve previously placed on disabled status.
So here is the dilemma. One day, I received a call from a client complaining that an employee who had been terminated recently still appeared when the To: button in a new Outlook e-mail message was selected and the GAL was
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displayed. I was accused of not addressing a client request to “eliminate” this user. Further investigation revealed that a user account, once disabled, still appears in the GAL. To hide a dearly departed but disabled user from the GAL, you would need to select the Hide from Exchange address lists checkbox on the Exchange Advanced tab on a user’s property sheet, as seen in Figure 6-11.
Figure 6-11
This figure suggests that Norm Hasborn, the owner of SPRINGERS, has been terminated. This is highly unlikely, of course, but does allow you to see how to hide a user from the Exchange GAL.
BEST PRACTICE: Why on earth did my telephone ring again from this client accusing me a second time of not terminating the terminated employee from the system? I had correctly selected the checkbox listed above. It turns out the secretary at this client site had double-checked my work very shortly after I reported I’d fixed the situation. The lesson learned is this. If you hide a user from the GAL, there is a propagation period before the change takes effect.
But there is a way to accelerate the propagation period. Figure 6-12 displays the Update Now secondary menu option on the Recipient Update Service (SPRINGERSLTD). Selecting this would make the change take effect immediately and you would then escape the wrath of the somber secretary I’ve shared with you here.
Figure 6-12
If you look closely at this figure, especially on the left, you can see where Recipient Update Services is located under the Advanced Management part of the Server Management console.

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