Exchange 2010 SP1 Rollup 3 not installing

Recent customer onsite job I had to setup Exchange rollup 3 for the Exchange servers with fingers cross to fix some of the existing issues. Environment consists of 2 HUB/CAS in NLB mode and 2 MBX servers in DAG.

Previously I’ve already applied rollup 2 for all servers. During the rollup 3 setup to one of the HUB/CAS servers I’ve been thrown with an error of “The user who’s currently logged on doesn’t have sufficient permissions to install this package. You need at least Exchange Server Administrator permissions on the current computer to complete the task.”

Since I’ve used the same user account for the pervious machine rollup 3 update I know there is no permission issues for the account. To isolate the issue I tried running the update with logging enable by using the following command,

Exchange2010-KB2529939-v3-x64-en.msp /lxv* c:\Rollupdat3.log

Error log didn’t help much with the given details apart from pointing out ,” Exchange ADAccess service not being able to access AD” This can be easily fix by restarting the “Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Topology” service. No luck when ran the rollup.

Did some research on the net to see if I’m the only guy with this pain J According to the internet search I did, one of the fix that did work for me is,

1. Stop the Exchange services, IIS Admin, WWW, Windows Search (Exchange) and WMI service.

2. Restart the server and trying the setup again.

Exchange 2010 SP1 Rollup 3 update can be obtained from here.

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Slow mailbox move in exchange 2010 sp1

Recently I was engage in a project of migrating Exchange 2003 environment to Exchange 2010. User was having around 500 mailboxes on various capacities. During the mailbox migration process we found out the process was extremely slow. 500 MB mailbox transfer took more than 20 minutes!

Doing some search around found out this is a due a recent change on the Exchange 2010 SP1. The value of “MaxActiveMovesPerTargetMDB”  was change from 5 to 2. This means only 2 mailboxes can be migrated simultaneously Sad smileNot a good idea and so far no idea why Microsoft did that. You can edit this value in “MSExchangeMailboxReplication.exe.config” to 5 from 2.

Open the above mention file from a notepad and locate the entry of MaxActiveMovesPerTargetMDB and change the value.

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Once you do that you have to restart the Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication service in HUB CAS servers. Try doing the Mailbox moving and you’ll find the difference.

Note: This information specifically given “AS IS” there is no such documentation found in official in Microsoft web site.

Running exchange 2010 in hyper-v environment

Running mission critical apps in the virtual environment suggestion always raise a concern to IT mangers and System administrators who are new in Virtualization. During my customer and partner engagement I’ve see this and also have to admit some customers are extremely happy to use virtualization with their past experience. It’s a fact that virtualization is here to stay as the next generation wave, and the question is we need to as is why do we need physical machine’s for these apps.

In this series of articles we’ll focus on key attributes for virtualizing one of the Microsoft flagship product on it’s own Virtualization hyper-visor, Exchange 2010.

Exchange 2010 is a product Microsoft fully support running under virtualization platforms. You can refer to more information about this by visiting the windows Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) carried out by Microsoft. Apart from that official guide to run Exchange in virtualization platform guides can be found over here.

Now moving back to Exchange server architecture side and hardware requirements it is very clear Exchange 2010 with SP1 has very clear improvements in Storage side as well as memory usage patterns. Complete list of improvements can be found over here. As for the virtualization deployment side we’re happy to focus on the disk subsystem improvements as well. some of the key improvements are,

IO Reductions: Exchange 2010 delivers up to a 50% reduction in disk IO from Exchange 2007 levels. This means that more disks meet the minimum performance required to run Exchange, driving down storage costs.

Optimizations for SATA Disks: IO patterns are optimized so that disk writes do not come in bursts. This removes a barrier that had previously limited the use of Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) desktop class hard disk drives disks.

Automatic Page Patching: Exchange Server 2010 is more resilient to storage problems. When corruption is caused by minor disk faults, Exchange automatically repairs the affected database pages using one of the database copies configured for high availability. Automatic detection and repair of data corruptions from minor disk errors means that you can take advantage of lower-cost storage options while maintaining system reliability.

JBOD Support: Exchange 2010 can be deployed with up to 16 replicated copies of each mailbox database, and fast database-level failover makes it possible for administrators to swap failed drives with minimal impact to users. This application-level redundancy allows RAID-less (JBOD) storage configurations to be used, resulting in dramatic cost savings.
(Taken from TechNet page)

In the HYPER-V  world we have several types of Virtual Hard Disks (VHD),

  • Dynamic Disk: Dynamic Disk is a VHD file that starts small scale and keep on growing as you add data into that VHD. Due to the nature of the design Dynamic disk  cause some overhead to the host system and a delay. This is a disk method not supported disk subsystem by Exchange team. Personally I believe this disk method is suitable for the R&D test labs and not the production network. You can deploy your Exchange servers under this method and they will work quite ok, but simply not supported by Microsoft and you’ll not get their support on this method.
  • Fixed Disk: A fixed disk is also a .VHD file appear on the host system but with a fixed size. This will not bring an additional overhead for the host system. This is the recommended method for most of the virtual machine disk subsystem. Exchange 2010 fully support Fixed Disk.
  • Differential Disk: In this scenario you’ll have a parent disk and child disk. Parent disk can be consist of the operating system and some applications. Differential disk can contains the changes. You can have several VM’s sharing same parent disk and have each VM’s changes saved in the child disk.
    Differntial disk
  • Pass through Disk:  Under this method you can now expose a host disk to the guest without even putting a volume on it using a pass-through disk. Hyper-V will let you “bypass” the host’s file system and access a disk directly. This raw disk, which is not limited to 2040 GB in size, can be a physical HD on the host or a logical unit on a SAN. To make sure the host and the guest are not trying to use the disk at the same time, Hyper-V requires the disk to be in the offline state on the host. This is referred to as LUN pass-through, if the disk being exposed to the guest is a LUN on a SAN from the host perspective. With pass-through disks you will lose some nice, VHD-related features, like VHD snapshots, dynamically expanding VHDs and differencing VHDs. This is one method I find really beneficial for the Exchange Mailbox server deployment.

Pass-through-disk

Considering the above mention disk subsystems and also referring to the Microsoft guidelines in Exchange disk requirements we can come into following conclusions,

1. Exchange OS and Program files can reside on a fixed disk which would provide required performance.

2. Exchange mailbox, database storage can be located in fixed VHD or in Pass-through Disks. Number of mailboxes and their quota size and mail exchange ratio per day will paly key role to take decision.

Summary: In the above articles we have discussed about the Exchange 2010 deployment in HYPER-V environment validation supportability and key point for the disk subsystem for Exchange deployment. In the next articles we’ll have a look into the memory and network subsystem requirements and also some of the pitfalls we nee dot avoid when virtualizing Exchange 2010.

How to retrieve individual E-mail from Exchange backup using Symantec Backup Exec 2010

I have seen so many questions keep on appearing in the forums regarding this GRT issue. I too personally face this issue and was searching in Symantec support forum and EE forum as well. Finally with the bits I’ve gathered managed to do a successful recovery and thought of sharing that information with others.

My environment – I’ve setup 3 VM’s in HYPER-V. One is a Windows 2008 R2 DC with CA server. Both forest and domain functional levels are 2008.

Exchange server 2010 on Windows 2008 R2 machine with typical setup method with all the updates.

Backup Exec 2010 with SP1 on a Windows 2008 R2 machine with all the updates.

Setup approach –

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In the DC I’ve created a user account called BEAdmin and add that account to the domain admin group. Make sure that user account added to the local admin group of the Backup Exec server’s local admin group. After that I carried out the BE installation using that account. So that means BEAdmin have the relevant permission in the BE software.

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In the Exchange server make sure there is an e-mail account created and send some sample e-mails to that and verify e-mails receiving for that account (This part is necessary for successful e-mail recovery when using Backup Exec software). After that I’ve added that user account to the Exchange Server’s Organization Management Group. This can be carried out by using the Role Based Access Control (RBAC) User Editor in EMC. You can find more information about it in the Symantec Support article But I didn’t had much luck doing that so ended up using the Active Directory Users and Computers MMC J
Below is a screenshot once you add the BEAdmin account to the Organization Management group.

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After that go ahead with the BE console and carry out an Exchange backup job with GRT option selected.

Make sure the give account has the proper credential to access the resources in the Exchange server side,

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Make sure you’ve selected the individual message restore option,

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After that complete the exchange backup. Not having the BEAdmin account in Exchange Organization Management Group will throw you various errors. So make sure that account is added.

After that next screenshot demonstrate the individual message restore capability out of the full backup I’ve taken,

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As far as I concern those are the only steps I’ve taken to make a successful backup and individual mail restore. Of course in my scenario I didn’t consider the Exchange DAB setup environment but the steps will be similar.