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Two useful tools for documenting an Exchange Server installation

Exchange BPA and ExchDump tools let you collect data about your Exchange installation, including settings and server configuration information. Learn how to translate this data and include it into your installation documentation.

Exchange Server installation documentation should contain clear instructions for end users and customers. Once you've created the basic framework of your document, you'll want to include some setting and configuration information. Here are a couple of tools that can help collect that information and details on how to include it in your document.

The Exchange BPA is an excellent troubleshooting tool. Use the Health Check option and export the informational output to HTML to gather some basic information to later place in your Exchange documentation.

The BPA can be run from your Exchange servers or from a local workstation, whether you've downloaded the standalone BPA or installed it as part of the Exchange 2007 Management Tools.

Note: In my example, I installed the Exchange BPA on one of the Exchange Servers in my lab.

I began the process by running the BPA in Health Check mode. To do this, run the Exchange BPA tool [START -> RUN] and type in EXBPA. Choose Start a new Best Practices scan from the options menu.

Make sure that the Health Check radio button is selected from the Select the type of scan group box. I've also checked off all the elements that I want to be included in the scan.

I gave the scan a demonstration name, but you can use something more descriptive. I also chose the network speed of my Exchange servers. When that was completed, I chose the Start Scanning (Figure 1).

Start a new best practices scan
Figure 1. Start a New Best Practices scan

The BPA will then scan your environment (Figure 2).

 The BPA tool scans your Exchange environment
Figure 2. The BPA tool will scan your Exchange environment.

When the scan is complete, click on View a report of the Best Practices Scan (Figure 3).

 The Exchange environment scan has completed
Figure 3. The Exchange scan has completed.

From the report screen, choose Informational items and then Export Report (Figure 4).

Choose informational items
Figure 4. Choose Informational Items from your Exchange scan report screen.

You'll be presented with a save dialog box. Make sure to save items as HTML (Figure 5).

Save your Exchange scan results as HTML
Figure 5. Be sure to save your Exchange BPA scan results as HTML.

This gives you an HTML-based report that you can include in your Exchange installation documentation (Figure 6).

Use this report in your Exchange installation documentation
Figure 6. You can now use this HTML-based report in your Exchange installation documentation.

You may want to include the following items from this report into your documentation:

  • Server configuration and settings
  • Administrative group configuration

Using the ExchDump tool in your documentation process

ExchDump is a tool that's available for download as part of the Exchange resource kit. Even though it's been available since Exchange 2000, most of the functionality is still very useful when documenting an Exchange 2007 install.

ExchDump is designed to take a read-only look at your Exchange-related Active Directory infrastructure and server configuration, including Internet Information Services (IIS). It then dumps this information into an HTML document that can be used for troubleshooting and documenting.

After downloading ExchDump, extract it to a location on one of your Exchange servers. Open a command prompt and navigate to the directory where you placed the extracted files. Next, type the following command (Figure 7):

ExchDump.exe /ALL /EXORG /Computer / V

Enter this command to scan your Exchange infrastructure
Figure 7. Enter the above command to scan your Exchange infrastructure.

Press the enter key and ExchDump will scan your infrastructure (Figure 8):

Exchdump scans your infrastructure
Figure 8. Exchdump scans your infrastructure.

When the scan has completed, the program will have created XML and HTML files in the directory in which you initially placed the ExchDump program . If you open the HTML file, you'll find several details regarding your Exchange infrastructure, including permissions on objects within AD (Figure 9).

 XML and HTML files contain permissions on objects within AD
Figure 9. ExchDump creates XML and HTML files that contain permissions on objects within AD

You can now translate some of this information into your documentation. For example, if you were documenting permissions on server objects, you could take some of the output from the ExchDump file and format it into a table, shown in Figure 10.

format the information you received from Exchdump into a table
Figure 10. Format Exchdump information into a table for your documentation.

In terms of the overall look and feel of the document, I've found that this can present a challenge from a structuring point of view. Therefore, here is a sample template that you can modify for your own documentation.

About the

Andy Grogan
 

author: Andy Grogan is an Exchange MVP based in the UK. He has worked in the IT industry for the last 14 years working primarily with Microsoft, HP and IBM technologies. His main passion is Exchange Server, but he also specializes in Active Directory, SQL Server and Storage solutions. Andy is currently working for a large council in West London as the Networks and Operations Manager supporting 6,000 customers on over 240 sites. You can visit Andy's website at http://www.telnetport25.com/.

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