Using Email Categories Within An Exchange Organization

Do you use the categories feature in Outlook to identify your mail?  If so, you might want that category information to be passed to others in your organization.  Starting with Exchange 2007, all categories get stripped from sent messages. Below is the PowerShell you can run to ensure that the category information stays put.

set-transportconfig -clearcategories $false

To turn it off again, change the flag to $true.

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Microsoft End of Life Dates – Mark Your Calendars!

Where is 2012 going?  It seems like just yesterday I filed away my planner for 2011 and crack open that fresh page to January 2012. Now that we are racing towards Spring, you might want to highlight a few of these special dates for the future.

Here are some future “end of life” dates for some Microsoft products you might still have floating around on your network.  Some will be supported for several more years, but it never hurts to keep your eye on the horizon.

These dates are the end of support life for the product as a whole (no more extended support), so start thinking about your budget cycles and internal support needs for the next few years.

Windows XP – 4/8/2014
Server 2003 – 7/14/2015
Windows Vista – 4/11/2017

Exchange Server 2007 – 4/11/2017
SQL Server 2000 – 4/9/2013
SQL Server 2005 – 4/12/2016

Office 2003 – 4/8/2014
Office 2007 – 10/10/2017

These dates are for specific service packs for these products, so be sure to install the latest available service pack, if you haven’t already.

SQL Server 2005 SP 3 -1/10/2012
Exchange 2010 SP 1 – 1/8/2013
Office 2007 SP 2 – 1/8/2013

For more information about other Microsoft Server products, check out the Lifecycle Info for Server Products list. – http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifeSelectServ

** 11/21/14 Update **

For some current end of life dates – visit this post.  Interested in learning more about getting away from on-prem Exchange and Office?  Check out these courses from the Microsoft Virtual Academy –

My 2010 Reading List: So Far

It’s unfortunate that I feel like I’m starting the year already behind on my “tech” reading list. Here’s a quick list of I have within arms reach.

In addition to books, I’ve downloaded several whitepapers onto my Kindle for those free moments on the subway:

Recovering Hard Deleted Items in Outlook

This isn’t new information, but it’s something that comes up from time to time – recovering hard deleted (SHIFT+DEL) items from Outlook. Hard deleted items skip over the “Deleted Items” bin, so they can’t be recovered using the regular “recover deleted items” tool within the Outlook client.

Exchange 2003 OWA can be used to recover items that were hard deleted using the Outlook client. To get back those items, log into the OWA web page. Then edit the URL to be: “https://server_name/exchange/user_name/inbox/?cmd=showdeleted“. The “dumpster” for the inbox will appear and you can recover your deleted email. If you want to recover items from other folders, just change the word “inbox” in the URL to the folder you need, like “calendar” or “drafts”.

If you are using Outlook 2003 as your mail client there is a registry setting that you can add to turn the dumpster on for all the folders. Outlook 2007 has the registry setting already enabled by default. Of course, recovering any deleted items assumes that the deleted items retention settings have been configured on your Exchange server.

Exchange Server under the tree this Christmas?

I’ve been reading a lot about Exchange 2007 and have been thinking about what the next move for our Exchange server at the office should be. We haven’t decided on Exchange 2007 vs. Exchange 2010 yet, but no matter… I want Santa to bring me a way to eliminate all the PST files being used around the office.

We don’t have a large staff. With less than 70 people our Exchange server doesn’t work that hard. However, with the desire to bring email services back up as quickly as possible after a failure we have a policy in place that limits the amount of mail stored on the server to 250MB per user. This leaves our data store at a little over 18GB. Our last test restoration of exchange required about 2 hours for loading the database.

Contrary to this is everyone’s need to keep every scrap of every email message. This has lead to numerous PST files created as archives for all this mail. It’s pretty safe for me to assume that almost every employee has at least one PST file and they are all stored on the network shares.(Yes, I know PST storage on the network is unsupported.) My quick search yielded about 30 GB of PST files and I know I didn’t find them all.

So what exactly can Santa bring me?

First, I would be lying if I said I needed a server with more space. The current exchange server still has upwards of 180GB free, so it’s likely I could support years of user email with our current setup just by throwing open the storage limits.

I would like to have a proper email archiving system that would automatically move mail from the active mailboxes to secondary storage, thus leaving my primary database small while allowing users to seamlessly access old messages. Personally, I don’t keep much in the way of work email and I think that if my company wants me to keep mail for historical purposes, they should provide an easy way to do so. However, I haven’t managed to convince the powers-that-be that this is something to embrace quite yet.

My next choice would be reconfiguring Exchange using 2007 or 2010 to take advantage of additional storage groups and “dial-tone” mail service. If I could virtualize the mail server with a SAN for storage, I could bring basic services up in a snap(shot). By breaking up users into multiple storage groups, it would be possible for us to restore mail service immediately and then backfill the databases in small chunks. While it would still take time to restore all the data, users would be able to send and receive mail while old mail would trickle in as the storage groups come back online.

I know “dial-tone” restores are possible with my current setup, but utilizing it in Exchange 2007 or later is much easier than Exchange 2003 due to the auto-discovery features. I also would like to have at least one storage group (with only one database) per department, nearly double of the four storage group limit with Exchange 2003. With the 50 storage group limit in Exchange 2007 I wouldn’t have any problem meeting my goal. Also, Exchange 2010 has some good “starter” archiving features for mail management that might be worth a closer look.

Of course Exchange 2007 and 2010 require 64-bit hardware, so maybe Santa can bring me that new server after all.

Migrating to Exchange 2010 – Where to Begin?

One of the potential projects on my list for 2010 is migrating our Exchange 2003 server to either 2007 or 2010. I’ll likely have to do some more detailed comparisons of features and requirements, as well as take a close look at some of the long term business goals so that we can make the most cost effective decision that will also give us some longevity. It seems like just yesterday that I migrated from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003.

Just to wet my feet a little bit, I found some great posts by Rand Morimoto regarding migrating to Exchange 2010.

Also, be sure to check out the Exchange Server Supportability Matrix, which lists out which operating systems support installing the various flavors of Exchange, as well as which flavors of Active Directory are also supported with Exchange. For example, Exchange 2003 SP2 will run in a 2008 domain (but not 2008 R2) and don’t even think about pushing your forest or domain functional levels past 2003 compatibility. On the flipside, Exchange 2007 and higher won’t run on a 2000 Active Directory enviroment, so if you are still sporting that type of domain you know where to start.

At any rate, there are quite a few little ducks that need to be a row. I know I’ve got a bit more reading to do before I start writing up my migration plan.