Top Tips for Exchange Admins

Michael Francis hands out imaginary Olympic medals to the winner of the August 'Top Tips for Exchange Admins'

Top Tips for Exchange Admins

Our top tips competition this month have been dominated by one man, an admin of rare enthusiasm.

Ben Lye of The MathWorks has sent us 3 tips this week, and these are as follows.

In the spirit of the Olympics….the Gold goes to….

Disabling PST files – straightforward I know, but this is something every admin should do. The effort this takes, vs. the effort it could save, means we have a clear victor. Ben writes….

“Microsoft Outlook supports a couple of options for restricting PST files.  The first is a registry change called PSTDisableGrow prevents new data being added to existing PST  files.   The second is a registry change called DisablePST which prevents users creating or opening PST files altogether.  The settings can be applied individually or together to phase out the use of PST files, and they can both be applied through group policy.

 PSTDisableGrow doesn’t have a great deal of documentation, but DisablePST is pretty well documented here:”

 Silver goes to a hardworking runner-up, striving for automation and convenience…..

 Smallest database script – Put in the effort, quite useful, but doesn’t quite have the sheer vital, everyone-must-do-this-now urgency of the first place.

 “It’s based on one we use as part of our mailbox provisioning process, and it returns the smallest database on a specified server.  By default it sums the sizes of all the mailboxes in each database, but it can also look at the size of the EDB file instead.  (Summing the mailbox size will avoid counting whitespace in the EDB file.)  It would be pretty easy to modify to look at specific storage groups, or use other search criteria (we look for databases which are named according to physical office locations, and pick the smallest database for that office).

 The script takes two parameters – the server name and the optional flag to look at EDB file sizes instead of mailbox sizes.  If the server name isn’t specified you will be prompted for it.

 To get the smallest database on a server name SERVER01 using mailbox sizes:

To get the smallest database using the EDB file size:

The script returns the database object as the output, but again that could easily be changed to suit a particular need.”

And finally, the Bronze….

 Change the mailbox information cache refresh  Neat, but I guess most of you that are in a hurry to apply mailbox information already caught onto this. Third place.

“By default the Exchange Information Store service caches information about mailboxes for two hours, meaning that any changes to mailbox quotas can take up to two hours to take effect.  You can change the cache refresh interval to a recommended value of 20 minutes which means that you only have to wait a maximum of 20 minutes for mailbox quota changes to take effect.

This TechNet article describes the problem and the registry changes required to reduce the cache refresh interval:

Ben will win the grand prize of a $50 Amazon voucher for his efforts (that’s about 1/6th the value of a real Olympic Gold, fact fans).

If you want a chance of winning a $50 Amazon voucher (with last month’s entry rates, your odds are pretty good), or you simply feel the need to share knowledge with your fellow humans, then send your Exchange top tips for next month’s competition to