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Learn how to manage Exchange outages with four expert tips

Exchange's automated maintenance routines only go so far. Administrators need a repertoire of troubleshooting tools and techniques to unclog problems and get messages moving.

Exchange Server runs a number of automated maintenance tasks to keep the messaging platform operating smoothly, but when Exchange outages occur, a skilled administrator needs to step in and resolve the issue quickly.

Admins should know the common causes for outages and strategies to prevent them, ways to resolve Exchange mail flow issues, and what tools help pinpoint a problem quickly. With those availability goals in mind, here are four expert tips to help admins monitor Exchange Server and keep the lines of communication open for the business.

1. Three reasons behind extended Exchange outages

Exchange includes a back pressure feature, which slows -- or stops -- mail flow to prevent an overload from turning into server failure.

Small problems can add up to Exchange outages. Poor server performance and overused storage are common causes that can lead to extended Exchange outages. Even worse, administrators can turn a service availability hiccup into a prolonged disruption if they use an untested disaster recovery plan. Before a disaster strikes, get familiar with Exchange recovery tools and processes to restore a single mailbox or the entire environment.

2. PowerShell reveals Exchange back pressure triggers

Exchange includes a back pressure feature, which slows -- or stops -- mail flow to prevent a resource overload from turning into server failure. Admins will want to know why the disruption occurred, and they can use PowerShell to retrieve important diagnostic information from Exchange Server. This article shows not only how to use PowerShell to access that information, but how to monitor Exchange to see if resource pressure stays within an acceptable range.

3. How to resolve Exchange mail flow issues

Over the years, Microsoft adjusted how Exchange Server handles mail flow in Exchange Server 2013 and 2016. These versions use the edge transport role from previous Exchange versions, but discontinued the hub transport. This change results in a different architecture to move messages, but admins can continue to apply fundamental troubleshooting principles to resolve mail flow problems.

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4. Log Parser Studio detects underlying Exchange issues

Numerous tools and techniques get administrators through Exchange issues, and Log Parser -- and its GUI front-end Log Parser Studio -- is one of the more reliable options. Log Parser retrieves logs from various sources and translates that information into a legible chart or image. It makes sense to start with Log Parser Studio, which contains more than 180 built-in queries for IIS, to help resolve common problems. For example, if resource utilization is too high, Log Parser can show an administrator which ActiveSync devices are consuming the most resources.

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