Manage Learn to apply best practices and optimize your operations.

Top 10 tasks for new Exchange administrators, part 1

Are you a new Exchange administrator and feeling overwhelmed? Check out this tip for Microsoft's top tasks and our take on their advice. Part 1 of 2-part series.

If you are a new Exchange administrator, you are probably challenged by keeping track of all your responsibilities...

-- keeping on top of security issues, making sure mail and public folder databases are properly backed up, to name just two.

Microsoft has some helpful advice for you along these lines, which it posted on its Web site. The article is called "The Top Ten Tasks for New Exchange Administrators," and you can find it at

What I found useful about this article was that Microsoft picked 10 common tasks and then listed the steps necessary for completing each task, thus making life as easy as possible on new Exchange administrators.

While I liked the idea behind this article, I think that Microsoft could have picked some better tasks. Don't get me wrong, though. Microsoft chose a good variety of tasks that addressed most of Exchange's capabilities. The tasks that Microsoft included in the article were:

1. implement security
2. create a mailbox
3. open Outlook Web Access
4. backup mail and public folder databases
5. create a public folder
6. create an e-mail distribution list
7. set a mailbox quote
8. connect Exchange to the Internet
9. accept mail for a domain
10. configure the default e-mail address for new user accounts

I analyzed the list, and totally agree that some of the items should have been included. The ones that I think need to be on the list are:

1. implement security
2. create a mailbox
3. backup mail and public folder databases
4. create an e-mail distribution list
5. set a mailbox quote
6. configure the default e-mail address for new user accounts

I like these six tips because they are tasks that a new Exchange administrator might have to do on a daily basis. The argument could be made that creating public folders is also a day-to-day skill, but the majority of real world Exchange organizations that I have seen do not even use public folders.

The list items "connecting Exchange to the Internet" and "accepting mail" for the domain are no doubt important things to know how to do. However, if a company hires an inexperienced Exchange administrator then there is a good chance that the company may already have Exchange setup and running. If this is the case, then these two particular skills can be learned later because they are used only in setting up Exchange, not in day-to-day maintenance.

I really debated as to whether or not to include the task "open Outlook Web Access" on my list of the top 10 tasks for new Exchange administrators. Ultimately, I decided not to include it because pretty much anyone can open a Web site without having to learn any special skills. All a new Exchange administrator would have to do to open an OWA site is to have another employee e-mail him the link.

That said, my list of the Top 10 tasks for new Exchange administrators has six items. So I needed to come up with four additional items of my own. Tomorrow I will share my four tasks and explain how to accomplish them.

In the meantime, if you would like additional information on the tasks I have discussed today, check out

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as the CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, Tech Target, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies, and numerous other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web sites at and

Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting