Tag Archives: exchange

Meltdown & Spectre: What about Microsoft Exchange?

On January 18, 2018, Microsoft has published KB4074871 which has the title “Exchange Server guidance to protect against speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities”. As you might guess, Exchange is affected by Meltdown & Spectre – like any other software. Microsoft explains in KB4074871:

Because these are hardware-level attacks that target x64-based and x86-based processor systems, all supported versions of Microsoft Exchange Server are affected by this issue.

Like Citrix, Microsoft does not offer any updates to address this issue, because there is nothing to fix in Microsoft Exchange. Instead of this, Microsoft recommends to run the lates Exchange Server cumulative update and any required security updates. On top, Microsoft recommends to check software before it is deployed into production. If Exchange is running in a VM, Microsoft recommends to follow the instructions offered by the cloud or hypervisor vendor. read more

Citrix NetScaler and Exchange: Case-sensitivity of internal and external URLs

Exchange has known the concept of internal and external URLs for the different services (Outlook Web Access, OAB, EWS, ActiveSync etc) since Exchange 2007. And it’s still confusing people. The internal URL is the URL, that is used to access the desired service from the intranet. The external URL represents the URL that is used to access the service from the internet. Best practice is to use the same URL (the external) for both, use a certificate from a public CA, and use split DNS to access the external domain from the inside of your network. read more

Exchange DAG member dies during snapshot creation

Yesterday, a customer called me and told me about a scary observation on one of his Exchange 2016 DAG (Database Availability Groups) nodes.

In preparation of a security check, my customer created a snapshot of a Exchange 2016 DAG node. This node is part of a two node Windows Server 2012 R2/ Exchange 2016 CU7 cluster.

That something went wrong was instantly clear, after the first alarm messages were received. My customer opened a console windows and saw, that the VM was booting.

What went wrong?

Nothing. Something worked as designed, except the fact, that the observed behaviour was not intended. read more

Exchange receive connector rejects incoming connections

As part of a bigger Microsoft Exchange migration, one of my customers moved the in- and outbound mailflow to a newly installed mail relay cluster. We modified MX records to move the mailflow to the new mail relay, because the customer also switched the ISP. While changing the MX records for ~40 domains, and therefore more and more mails received through the new mail relay cluster, we noticed events from MSExchangeTransport (event id 1021):

192.168.xxx.xxx is the mail relay cluster, which is used for the in- and outbound mailflow. read more

Data Protector Exchange GRE and IP-less Exchange DAG

When dealing with Microsoft Exchange restore requests, you will come across three different restore situations:

  • a database
  • a single mailbox
  • a single mailbox item (mail, calendar entry etc.)

Restoring a complete database is not a complicated task, but restoring a single mailbox, or a single mailbox item, is. First, you need to restore the mailbox, that includes the desired mailbox, into a recovery database. Then you can restore the mailbox, or the mailbox items, from the recovery database. Some of the tasks can only be done with the Exchange Management Shell.

The HPE Data Protector Granular Recovery Extension (GRE) for Microsoft Exchange helps you to simplify the necessary steps to recover a single mailbox, or mailbox items. But the GRE can only assist you during the restore. It hids the above described tasks behind a nice GUI. The backup of Microsoft Exchange is still something you have to do with HPE Data Protector. read more

Surprise, surprise: Enable/ disable circular logging without downtime

As part of a troubleshooting process, I had to disable circular logging on a Microsoft Exchange 2013 mailbox database, that was part of a Database Availability Group (DAG).

What is circular logging? Microsoft Exchange uses log files that record all transactions and modifications to a mailbox database. In this case, Exchange works like MS SQL or Oracle. These log files are used, to bring the database back to a consistent state after a crash, or to recover a database to a specific point-in-time. Because everything is written to log files, the number of log files increases over time. Log files are truncated, as soon as a successful full backup of the database is taken. read more

Get-MailboxDatabase doesn’t show last backup timestamp

Sometimes you have to check when the last backup of an Exchange mailbox database was taken. This is pretty simple, because the timestamps of the last full, incremental and differential backup is stored for each mailbox database. You can check these attributes using the Exchange Control Panel (ECP), or you can use the Get-MailboxDatabase cmdlet.

Backup successful, but no timestamp?

Take a look at this output. As you can see, there’s no timestamp for the last full, incremental and differential backup. But this database was successfully backuped some minutes before.

Missing -status switch read more

Disable Outlook cached mode for shared mailboxes

When you use Microsoft Outlook in cached mode, what I always recommend, and you add additional mailboxes to your outlook profile, you will notice that the OST file will grow. Outlook will download the mailbox items (mails, calendar entries, contacts etc.), and store them in the OST file. This is the default behaviour since Microsoft Outlook 2010. If you want to disable this behaviour, you have two options:

  • Edit the registry
  • Use a group policy object (GPO)

Edit the Windows registry

The easiest way is to use a reg file. Copy this text into a file and save it as disablecachedmode.reg. Then double click the file and confirm, that you want to import the registry file. read more

Changes to supported .NET Frameworks for Exchange 2013/2016

EDIT: If you have already installed .NET 4.6.1, check this blog post on how to remove it (You Had Me At EHLO…)

Microsoft Exchange heavily relies on Microsoft .NET Framework. Because of this, Microsoft provides a matrix for the supported Microsoft .NET Frameworks. Mostly unknown is the fact, that Exchange doesn’t support the every Microsoft .NET Framework, and this is causing trouble sometimes. Some admins simply install the latest .NET releases because “it doesn’t hurt”. Well… it hurts!

Changes for .NET Framework 4.6.1

Microsoft has changed the support policy for .NET Framework 4.6.1 with the release of Exchange 2013 CU13 and Exchange 2016 CU2. Up to this versions, only .NET Framework 4.5.2 is supported. Starting with Exchange 2013 CU13 and Exchange 2016 CU2, Microsoft supports .NET Framework 4.6.1 together with a hotfix rollup (KB3146715 for Server 2012 R2, KB3146714 for Server 2012 and KB3146716 for Server 2008 R2). If you wish to install .NET Framework 4.6.1, make sure to install Exchange 2013 CU13 or 2016 CU2 first. read more

Receive Connector role not selectable in Exchange 2016 CU2

receive_connect_role_not_selectable

Another bug in Exchange 2016 CU2. The Role of a new receive connector is greyed out. You can select “Front-End-Transport”. This is a screenshot from a german Exchange 2016 CU2.

Solution

Use the Exchange Management Shell to create a new receive connector. Afterwards, you can modify it with the Exchange Control Panel (ECP).

Microsoft has confirmed, that this is a bug in Exchange 2016 CU2.