I’ve seen a spate of issues from companies running their own MS Exchange servers. A few patterns emerged. In all cases, servers running Exchange (usually as part of Small Business Server) either lost power or rebooted unexpectedly. This will not always cause problems. But if Exchange is busy writing things to the data store, it …
"Even my home win2k8 environment is all on UPS"
Ditto here (well, OK, it's OSX, Linux and WinXP, but the same principle applies).
I started doing this when I was merging a gazillion backups made over the year onto a 2TB working drive (no time to set up a NAS yet) - I realised an outage would not affect my laptop, but the data on the external drives I was working with would be toast. And then I just left the UPS in place..
now, with a word from reality:
A significant power-spike on a line-interactive USP can fry the UPS, IF you are lucky. If you are not is causes a fire. (I've seen a UPS reduced to a "Fire breathing dragon" on more then one occasion.) I suspect it's also possible for double or delta-conversion UPSes (although, I'm going to guess you probably don't have one of those)
Tapes degrade, drives fail, and so backups are not always good, even IF you tested them when you took them. (which I am sure you did, as it is a best practice.)
ahh eseutil, that brings back some horrible old memorys.
although im a little curious that isinteg dosn't get a mention when dealing with comedy exchange failures.
admittedly eseutil normally ended up actually coming to the rescue, but i always ended up doing both just to be on the safe side.
Large Exchange installations?
My employer (large institution) is about to switch over 80,000 mailboxes from an old Sun iPlanet-based cluster to Exchange. The Sun thing has a terrible web mail and is kind of slow sometimes but I've never heard of any long outage or data loss. The move to Exchange *really* scares me and pisses me off too, because for much less than the amount of money they're going to shell out to MS they could hire a bunch of good system people and run a good old open-source Unix-based mail system. I'm having a hard time believing Exchange can reliably handle such a large number of mailboxes anyway and I'm prepared to the worst. Has anyone had an experience of such large Exchange installations?
Tux, because Unix/Linux rules for mail servers IMO.
@destroy all monsters
Re highly reliable and hugely scaleable Thunderbird plus maildir IMAP in a 24x7 shop, I too was required by me-too-compliant CEO to install Exchange. I resigned.
Give me the alternative....
I run SBS 2003. I'm an admin cos i know the most about IT in the company (ex WINNT admin)
I have suffered all of the problems above, now self taught in Eseutil, Exmerge for individual daily mailbox backup and isinteg.
I have had to bear that pain. However I'd love to know what the alternative solution is to a single box SBS install, that can run a windows domain and offer the same features for less cost.
Until then, it's the best for my (small) business.
@Give me the alternative
Seriously by the time you did a Windows installation, you could have installed some Ubuntu and some groupware solution.
Yes, but which groupware solution would have suited him? I think that was his point.
Also, Ubuntu as a server? Seriously? I would have gone for RHEL, Suse or Debian.
All this talk about what platform is best or what to use to recover lost data. There's no talk about bullet proofing the hardware.
Differing experiences.. ?
Interesting that some guys report high Exchange reliability, others very poor. I wonder how many are running the full version, how many SBS. My own experiences are that the SBS version of Exchange is far more troublesome. A contributing factor here is the oft-found (and arguably reasonable!) assumption by purchasers that a 'small' business OS will run on a small server. Hence it's often found to be running on grossly under-spec'd hardware.
As regards the databases, corporate workers are used-to being restricted to tiny amounts of personal data, but small business users see nothing wrong with accumulating several gigabytes worth of old emails. The issue here is that with Exchange's everything-in-one-file approach it takes only a handful of hoarders to saturate the mailstore, or to create database files so huge that backup is a major problem. Yet, what is the point of a system which is incapable of storing a full email history for each user, over at least several years? Not having last year's emails makes it hard for sales staff to follow-up repeat orders, and so on.
For my own office I don't use Exchange. I have a full history of my email communications with clients running back several years on an open source email platform, and if I get a repeat enquiry I have no problems following it up. Plus, no AD domain, no special DNS, no SIDs, no SBS wizards, no licensing woes. Would I switch? Er... no thanks.
SBS LOLZ. It's like the free bag of pills the dealer gives you in the hope that you'll get hooked on harder stuff later on. I love how we have penguin heads talking about how they deal with big environments yet they also talk about USB hard drives for backups; that sounds like a kiddie solution to me but then I've got a little over 30TB to care for.
Dont use Exchange
Simple. Any questions?
Mine's the one with the non proprietary mail spool that works.
Every software works perfectly when it works perfectly
The point is, how do you recover from times when something bad happens. Things will go wrong, eventually, and it doesn't need to be the software. Just imagine a bit flips somewhere on your storage system or you loose a file. How much data did you actually loose? Can you repair the damage easily?
Had to reboot an SBS because several less-important services had ceased functioning. The reboot took about twenty minutes. Most of which was, I suspect, Exchange shutdown.
One of the site staff lost her rag and began screaming abuse at me, saying that she had a panic schedule to meet, and couldn't understand why I had to cancel her file-share access just to get the other services back working.
Meanwhile the satellite offices wehre phoning-in to ask why they couldn't access their email.
Anyone specifying SBS needs to think carefully about the SPOF they're creating. It's a bit like having an electrical installation with only one fuse/breaker. Bulb blows, pop, out goes the lot. Need to change a socket? Sorry, everything goes off, including lights. In some ways this is even worse than relying on dodgy cloud servers.
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