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5 Extremely Useful Tools to Simplify your Microsoft Exchange Life

Here’s what I find myself using in my day to day life in working with Exchange. If it weren’t for these then troubleshooting and automation would be a lot more difficult and I would find myself throwing my life away. Why waste time when you could be watching E3 game trailers instead?

  1. PowerShell! This one definitely has to take the first place spot in mention. Not that I have any particular order to how I’m listing everything. If it wasn’t for PowerShell then management of even a single Exchange server would be much more tiresome. Just look at mass creating a number of new users. HR sends you an Excel sheet with all of their details, you save the pertinent bits out to a CSV, then just run it through a little PowerShell script
    $NewUsers = Import-Csv -Path C:\Import\UserList.csv
    foreach($NewUser in $NewUsers)
    {
                    New-Mailbox -Name $NewUser.Name -Password $NewUser.Password -UserPrincipalName $NewUser.UPN -Alias $NewUser.Alias -Database $NewUser.TargetDatabase -DisplayName ($NewUser.FirstName + " " +$NewUser.LastName) -FirstName $NewUser.FirstName -LastName $NewUser.LastName -OrganizationalUnit $NewUser.OU -Phone $NewUser.Phone -ResetPasswordOnNextLogon:$true
    }

    Tada, creating new users has been simplified from hours of manual labor to a few minutes of CSV formatting and scripted importing.

  1. mxtoolbox.com This is a site that gets used often in troubleshooting. I can quickly check on the MX records for any domain including my own, run through a list of BLs to see if my domain is listed, and very importantly run diagnostics on my mail server’s external facing connectors to see what errors may come up. This is where I turn if I don’t have a way to telnet in from the outside. There are a number of other useful tools there as well though they don’t receive as much use as the BL and diagnostics.
  2. testexchangeconnectivity.com A very important site if you are running Exchange migrations. The ActiveSync and Outlook Anywhere tests help greatly for verifying all of your autodiscover functionality and your other CAS services. The Lync tests are great as well if you have that as part of your organization. It is so much easier than having to call up some external user and have them test such and such functionality, again.
  3. migrationwiz.com Speaking of Exchange migrations, I’ve found this particular service to be extremely useful when working with migrations that are not Exchange to Exchange. MigrationWiz will login to the target service and transfer mailboxes to your Exchange server. It is as simple as that. No annoying process of exporting and import PSTs. Furthermore since incremental transfers are available you can spread out your migration without needing to do an overnight cutover.
  4. telnet and nslookup Since these are small I figured I could combine them into one entry. These are also some extremely vital tools in your Microsoft Exchange swiss army knife. I’ve already talked about the usefulness of telnet in previous posts so I won’t bore you all over again. Nslookup is a fantastic way to quickly verify records. Such as comparing your internal DNS records to your external records. Run nslookup autodiscover.contoso.com and nslookup autodiscover.contoso.com 8.8.8.8. The first will check what it is resolving to internally while the second will query Google’s public DNS for the external autodiscover record. MX record lookups are simple as well, nslookup –type=mx contoso.com 8.8.8.8.

Any favorite tools that you find yourself using over and over for your Exchange servers or migrations? Please let me know in the comments.

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