Step 1: Creating Exchange Server NNTP newsgroup hierarchies

Learn how to set up newsgroup hierarchies, configure the Network News Transfer Protocol and create NNTP virtual directories in Exchange Server 2003.

Newsgroups are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and a newsgroup's name affects its position within that hierarchy. For example, the .com domain extension is a top-tier domain. The owner of the .com domain allows others to register within it; a domain's name affects its position in the hierarchy.

The portion of the name to the right of the last period represents the top of the domain hierarchy. Each position to the left of that name represents another level in the hierarchy.

Newsgroup hierarchies work in a similar way, except that the hierarchy is reversed, with the order listed from left to right.

There is another difference between domain hierarchies and newsgroup hierarchies. When you see a long domain name, such as, you know that every position within the hierarchy is a domain. For example, .com,, and are all domains.

When you look at a newsgroup hierarchy; however, not every position within it represents a newsgroup. Sometimes, the first position within a newsgroup's name represents a virtual directory. This virtual directory controls the placement of newsgroups within the hierarchy -- but a virtual directory is not a newsgroup.

For an example of how virtual directories work, imagine that was a newsgroup name. If searchexchange were a newsgroup, then the name would reflect the existence of three different newsgroups (searchexchange, searchexchange.techtarget, and If searchexchange were a virtual directory, however, then only two newsgroups would exist: searchexchange.techtarget and

Building an Exchange Server newsgroup hierarchy

When creating a newsgroup hierarchy on Exchange Server, you must decide where you want to store the content. There are three places where newsgroup content can be stored: the server's local file system, a remote server's file system, or in Exchange public folders. When you construct a newsgroup hierarchy, you will be prompted to select a default storage location -- but you're not locked into using that location.

Newsgroup content can be scattered among local storage, remote storage, and Exchange public folders. However, you cannot span a single newsgroup across multiple storage locations. For example, if were a newsgroup, searchexchange might be stored on the server's local file system, while searchexchange.techtarget and might reside in Exchange public folders.

The physical location of a particular newsgroup doesn't matter to the end users who will always see the newsgroup hierarchy as a cohesive structure, regardless of where individual newsgroups are located.

From an Exchange Server administrator's standpoint, the physical location of individual newsgroups does matter. When designing a newsgroup hierarchy, an administrator must consider the amount of space that the newsgroup will eventually consume, and ensure that the chosen location (and the mechanism that's responsible for backing up that location) can accommodate the expected volume of data. Performance and security are other considerations when choosing a location to house newsgroup data.

Enabling the NNTP protocol

NNTP is a subcomponent of Internet Information Services (IIS), and all necessary components are already installed. To enable the NNTP protocol:

  1. Choose the Services command from the server's Administrative Tools menu.

  2. When the Service Control Manager opens, right click on the NNTP Service and select Properties.

  3. Set the service's startup type to Automatic and click OK.

  4. Right click on the NNTP Service, and choose the Start command from the shortcut menu.

  5. Once the service starts, close the Service Control Manager.

Creating an NNTP virtual directory

Exchange Server 2003 contains a built-in NNTP virtual server and a few built-in virtual directories. The problem with the virtual directories is that they may not fit in with your intended newsgroup hierarchy. In this case, I recommend creating your own virtual directory.

Remember that the virtual directory will act as the top tier of the newsgroup naming hierarchy. All newsgroups within the virtual directory will share the name that you create. But it also is possible to create parallel virtual directories.

To create a virtual directory:

  1. Open the Exchange System Manager and navigate through the console tree to Administrative Groups -> Your administrative group -> Servers
    -> Your server -> Protocols -> NNTP -> Virtual Directories.

  2. Right click on the Virtual Directories folder and select New -> Virtual Directory from the shortcut menu.

  3. Windows will launch the New NNTP Virtual Directory Wizard. The first screen of the wizard application asks you to enter the newsgroup subtree to be stored on the virtual server. Enter the top-level name that you want to use for the newsgroup. Keep in mind that you cannot use spaces in newsgroup names.

  4. Click Next and you will be prompted for the location in which to store newsgroup content. You can choose between the local file system, a remote file system and an Exchange public folder database. If you choose an Exchange public folder database, you will be prompted to select the database and public folder that you want to use.

  5. Click Finish and the virtual directory will be created.


 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: Creating Exchange Server NNTP newsgroup hierarchies
 Step 2: Configuring and replicating Exchange Server 2003 NNTP newsfeeds
 Step 3: Managing NNTP newsfeeds and expiration policies

Brien M. Posey, MCSE
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Exchange Server, and has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at

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