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System policies give you more control

You can use policies to set the characteristics of Exchange that will let you accomplish tasks like tracking messages and setting maintenance settings for them.

Policies are the tools that you can use to control many aspects of your systems. Policies, in general, are applicable to workstations, servers, the network, security and more. Policies make life much easier for the IT administrator, because he can set a policy for a group of users, or other objects, and then the policy set devolves to every member of the group.

Setting up policies makes things easier for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the ease with which you can add servers, users, workstations or other objects to groups. These elements can then take on the characteristics of the group as defined by the policy. You can use policies to stop users or sub-administrators from making changes to group policies, by not granting permissions to alter the policy that determines what other policies are.

So it makes sense that when you're working with the Exchange server, you should be using policies to set the characteristics of that server. Server policies for Exchange will enable you to track messages and to enable maintenance settings for that message tracking. This can make life a lot easier when, for example, you need to recall all messages about a specific topic for an audit or other examination.

How to set up a policy container
The first thing you have to do is set up a system policy container, as all policies have to be housed in such a container. To do that, in the Exchange system manager you must first select the administrative group to which you want to assign a system policy, and then right click on the group. Click New on the fly-out menu that appears, and then click on Server policy.

That gives you the container. Now right click on the group, and select the System policies item and point to new. Now click System policy. You'll see a dialog that allows you to check either enable message tracking or to enable subject logging for later examination of your message logs.

Using these system policies for your Exchange server will allow for much easier control and examination of the message traffic into and out of your server for a number of problems that could arise in the future.

You can learn more about the server policies for Exchange from Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003 Administration Guide.

David Gabel has been testing and writing about computers for more than 25 years.

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