Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks: Yes, you really can have it your way!

Exchange 2000 Server is one of those products that require a lot of love and attention when it comes to getting it up and running, but once it’s there it pretty much takes care of itself.  Because of that, there is not usually a lot of customization that you can perform on Exchange without the addition of some third-party products.  There are, however, a few things that you can tweak in Exchange to change the way it operates—on a small scale at least.

Why Drive M?

One of the really great features of Exchange 2000 Server is the Installable File System (IFS).  The IFS makes mailboxes and public stores available as standard folders and files, thus they are available to all Windows applications such as Word, Internet Explorer and the command prompt.  By default, IFS creates an instance of your mailbox and public folder stores on the M: drive (a virtual drive) and shares the drive with a share name of BackOfficeStorage.  Thus, this drive on my servers would be seen as \\w2ktestsvr001\BackOfficeStorage and \\w2ktestsvr002\BackOfficeStorage, etc.  Figure 1 shows a standard M: drive, as seen on one of my sandbox Exchange 2000 Server computers.

Figure 1 – The M: drive in action.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

The MBX folder is the root for all mailboxes on the server.  Users with adequate permissions can navigate through the MBX folder by using explicit folder names, which are the same as the mailbox alias.  This can be seen in Figure 1.  Email objects appear in the folders as files with a .eml extension and can be opened by using the TYPE command. 

The Public Folders folder is the root for the public folder tree on the server.  Again, users with adequate permissions can navigate through the folder just like any other network folder.  This provides an ideal and easy way to open, edit and save documents that belong in your public folder tree using any standard Windows program.

But what if you don’t want to use drive M: for your IFS volume?  Don’t despair, you’re in luck.  With a little Registry editing, you’ll be in business shortly with an IFS volume that has the drive letter of your choice.  Just follow the process outlined:

Caution!  Be extremely careful when working in the Registry.  When in doubt, just stay out.

1.       Open the Registry Editor by clicking Start | Run, entering regedit into the Run dialog box and clicking OK.

2.       Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\EXIFS\Parameters node as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 – Locating the key.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

3.       Open the DriveLetter string for editing, and change the Value data entry to the available drive letter of your choosing as shown in Figure 3.  If for some bazaar reason you do not already have this string, you can add it by clicking the Edit menu and selecting Add Value.

Figure 3 – Making the change.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

4.       Close out the Registry Editor and restart your Exchange 2000 Server.  Upon restart, your IFS volume will now have a new driver letter, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 – The end result.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

After you’ve restarted your Exchange 2000 Server, you will now be able to access the IFS volume using the new drive letter.

The path less typed

Outlook Web Access (OWA) is tremendous asset to those who travel and need to have access to their email.  OWA is even a great asset to those located in your organization, accessing their Exchange mailbox from inside your network.  But who wants to type every time?  Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just type to access OWA?  I think so, so let’s see how this change can be made.

1.       Open the Internet Information Services console by clicking Start | Programs | Administrative Tools | Internet Services Manager.

2.       Expand the nodes until you find the server you want to change the name for, and then expand its nodes.

3.       Right-click on Default Web Site and select Properties as shown in Figure 5.  If you’ve renamed your default web site to something else, be sure to use the correct one.

Figure 5 – Open the Properties page for the Default Web Site.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

4.       Switch to the Home Directory tab and make the following changes as shown in Figure 6.

a.       Change the value for the When connecting to this resource, the content should come from to A redirection to a URL.

b.       Enter the location of the OWA server, such as http://w2ktestsvr001/exchange.

c.       Select the A directory below this one value for the The client will be sent to value.

Figure 6 – Changing the values.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

5.       Click OK to close out the Properties page.

6.       Stop and restart the Web site, by right-clicking on it and selecting Stop as shown in Figure 7, then by right-clicking on it and selecting Start.

Figure 7 – Applying the values.

Neat Exchange 2000 Server Tricks

Now you can access your OWA computer by typing http://server_name.  A quick redirect will occur pointing you to the actual OWA site located at http://server_name/exchage.  It’s all good.

That’s all for now…

That’s all the tips for now.  Stay tuned for more tips and tricks.

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