In this article I will show you how to use the Exchange Server Troubleshooting Assistant version 1.0. With the help of this tool it is possible to diagnose a wide range of Exchange Server related problems, for example problems with Exchange Mailflow, Database mount problems and performance problems for users using Outlook. Some parts of this tool are already Exchange Server 2007 aware so you could begin collecting information for Exchange Server 2007 troubleshooting which is currently in Beta 2.
The Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant programmatically executes a set of troubleshooting steps to identify the root cause of performance, mail flow, and database mounting issues. ExTRA automatically determines what set of data is required to troubleshoot the identified symptoms and collects configuration data, performance counters, event logs and live tracing information from an Exchange server and other appropriate sources. The Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant then analyzes each subsystem like the Disc- and –RAM subsystem to determine performance bottlenecks and component failures. The results of ExTRA will be aggregated and the results are displayed to the Administrator who can use this information for extended troubleshooting.
The System requirements for the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant are:
Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP, Windows 2000 Server family, or Windows Server 2003 family required; Windows XP recommended
Computer and processor
Personal computer that has 133-megahertz (MHz) or more processor; 1.0-gigahertz (GHz) or larger processor recommended. Dual processors for topologies with more than 100 Exchange servers are recommended.
256 megabytes (MB) of RAM required; 256 megabytes (MB) for every 50 Exchange servers in the topology recommended.
10 MB of available hard disk space for tool installation; 2 MB of free space per server, per scan required for the data output.
Mixed-mode or native-mode Exchange Server 2003, Exchange 2000 Server, and Exchange Server 5.5 system; Exchange Server 2003 recommended.
Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1
You can download the Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant from the following website. The current version when writing this article is 1.0. You should check the download website regularly for a new or updated version or you can use the update function of the tool.
After downloading the tool, follow the installation instructions.
Figure 1: Installation of the Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant v1.0
When you open the Exchange Troubleshooting Agent, it first contacts the Microsoft website for updates and for the configuration file. You could cancel the check but I recommend always using the update check for this tool.
Figure 2: Check for Updates
After update checks you can start the Troubleshooting process.
Figure 3: Begin Troubleshooting
You can select between three Troubleshooting Tasks:
Figure 4: Troubleshooting Task
The Exchange Performance Troubleshooter has the same functions as the Stand Alone Version of the tool. With this version there is one other thing you can analyze.
Figure 5: Select Symptoms
Next you must specify the Servername and the tool checks the connectivity. The tool only found that I’m running the Server in a Virtual Machine.
Figure 6: Connectivity results
You can use the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant to collect the required Performance Log Data. As default, the tool collects Performance data for 5 Minutes. In real environments you should expand the interval to several hours.
If you had already collected some data you can open an existing logfile.
Please note that it is also possible to manually collect the required information by using Exmon or the Windows Performance Monitor.
Figure 7: Configure Data collection
The Report shows no RPC problems. Everything is fine. If you want to see some more traffic in a test environment I recommend using tools like Exchange Server 2003 Loadsim to get more loads on your test machines to see ExTRA working.
Figure 8: Configure Data collection
The Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant is now gathering more information from the disc subsystem, the message queue, LDAP health and some more. You can see the steps in the ExTRA window.
Figure 9: ExTRA found some performance bottlenecks
ExTRA found some disk bottlenecks in my test system. If you click the associated button you will see more information about this bottleneck.
Figure 10: Click the green button for more information
Finally ExTRA shows all collected information in an extra window where you can see all information and bottlenecks of your system.
Figure 11: View results
The Exchange Mailflow Troubleshooter is a really new component from the Exchange Troubleshooting assistant. You can use the Exchange Mailflow Troubleshooter to find the reason for broken mailflow, non delivery reports or lost Messages if you are using Exchange Server 2007.
Figure 12: Select symptoms for Mailflow Troubleshooting
The Exchange Mailflow Troubleshooter found that the FQDN on the SMTP Server instance does not match the server name which could be the reason for several errors.
Figure 13: SMTP FQDN warning
Next you must specify the Delivery Status Notification (DSN) code. You can find the Delivery Status Notification code in the NDR (Non Delivery Report) that your users get from the mailsystem.
Figure 14: Specify DSN
The Exchange Mailflow Troubleshooter lists the explanation of the DSN status Code so that it is possible to analyze the reason for the NDR.
Figure 15: Detailed DSN information
The Database Recovery Management collects configuration data and header information from your Exchange databases and transaction log files. ExTRA analyzes all database headers and creates a list of problems with your database and how to resolve problems with your Exchange databases.
ExTRA scans your dismounted Exchange databases and transaction log files for shutdown reason and other problems. With the help of ExTRA it is possible to do more:
Figure 16: Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant options
For this article I selected the Repair Database Wizard. You must dismount the Exchange Database that you want to repair before using the repair database wizard.
Figure 17: Select Database for Repair
Because I only dismounted a database with the Exchange System Manager, the Database is in clean shutdown, so the Repair Database Wizard has nothing to do. As you can see in the following Figure, the Exchange Database Repair Wizard executes the well known ISINTEG tool and defrags the Exchange Database.
Figure 18: Report Repair Results
The Microsoft Exchange Server Troubleshooting Assistant is a very interesting tool to analyze and find potential problems with Exchange databases and Logfiles and Exchange performance. The Microsoft Exchange Server Troubleshooting Assistant is also a great help in recovering and repairing corrupted Exchange Databases. With the help of ExTRA you can also diagnose Message delivery problems. You should spend some time playing with this tool. Some parts of this tool are also part of the other Exchange tools like Exchange Server Disaster Recovery Agent, and Exchange Server Performance Troubleshooting Agent. You can read more about these tools on http://www.msexchange.org.
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