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Tuning Exchange 2003

The following is Tip #1 from "25 Exchange 2003 Tips in 25 minutes"

The following is Tip #1 from "25 Exchange 2003 Tips in 25 minutes." This content is excerpted from Scott Schnoll's book, "Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Distilled," brought to you by © 2004 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Addison-Wesley Professional. Return to the main page for more tips on this topic.

For the most part, Exchange 2003 is self-tuning. In Exchange 5.5 and earlier versions, Exchange shipped with a wizard-based tool called the Performance Optimizer. An administrator would launch this tool and answer a series of questions about the server's role, the number and type of users on the server, and what disks were available for use by Exchange. Behind the scenes, the Performance Optimizer would examine available resources and, based on all of this gathered information, it would make some adjustments to the Exchange configuration to tune Exchange properly for each server.

The Performance Optimizer could be used to move databases and transaction log files to different (presumably faster) disks, and it could also be used to limit the amount of memory that the information store (STORE.EXE) could consume. The Performance Optimizer was removed from Exchange starting with Exchange 2000, and it remains missing from Exchange 2003. It was removed because Exchange 2000 (and now Exchange 2003) was made to be self-tuning. If you need to move the databases and transaction logs, that functionality is now found in ESM; however, if you want to limit the amount of memory used by Exchange, you are out of luck—there is no longer any supported way to do this.

There are, however, plenty of opportunities to tune and/or control Exchange's behavior. Some of these settings have already been discussed in previous chapters. For example, in Chapter 2, I wrote about using some new BOOT.INI switches to tune memory allocation on your Exchange server. Chapter 4 covered how to tune ESE buffers, and in Chapter 9, I showed you how to use OWA spell-check throttling to prevent spell-check requests from overwhelming your Exchange server. In this chapter, I'll continue down that path with various settings and other practices you can employ to change and tune how Exchange behaves.

Generally speaking, the goal of performance tuning is to decrease server response time while supporting more users. Most of the tuning and performance boosts you can get from Exchange come from choosing appropriately sized hardware and from employing best practices for the design and deployment of Exchange.

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