Thursday, July 25, 2013

Exchange 2010 451.4.4.0 Queue Problem

Sometimes weird stuff happens with technology. There's no philosophical inquiry needed because, in my experience, technology problems often don't have an answer as to *why* the problem happened; it just happened. Yeah, there are some reasons we can give to why it happened, sometimes, but like with this problem I'm about to describe, I can't give a reason why it happened. All I know is that it happened and I had to fix it.

A couple of the employees told me they weren't receiving emails from our employee self service application. Employees use this to view paystubs, events, and such so it is important that this application is working correctly. Employees register with whatever email address they want to use: professional or personal, we don't care.

When I dove into Exchange 2010, I noticed by looking at the logs and the queue viewer that the only domain generating an error was our professional domain. Google, Live, and yahoo domains were receiving email from our server, but not our domain. The error generated in the queue viewer was 451.4.4.0 DNS Query Failed. This was odd because I leave this server alone. The only changes made to the server are security updates. That's it. Regardless, this problem happened and I had to fix it.

How did I fix it? Well, obviously it was a DNS issue. I could tell by the error message. :p

So I checked out the external DNS lookups tab in the HUB transport server object properties. I had the top option "use network card dns settings" selected and that is how it has been running for over a year now. Anyway, since a problem had occurred I decided to select the other option "use these DNS servers" and put in the IPs of the servers we forward to. I then configured the SMTP send connector properties under the network tab (located by selecting hub transport under org. configuration) and checked the box "use the external DNS lookup settings on the transport server." Doing this cleared the queue and employees using their professional email addresses received (are are receiving) their email from "employee self service." Yeah, this is working, but I'm not sure why the problem occurred. I'm glad I was able to fix it in a timely manner. Obviously there was a problem with the DNS properties of the network card for the exchange server because changing the option to external lookups and using the DNS forwarders fixed the problem. I'll have to investigate further and will write here again if and when I figure that out.

Anyway, I hope this helps one of you having this strange problem.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to delete Exchange 2010 mailbox without removing user object

This is a question that pops up occasionally. If you want to remove a user mailbox, but keep the user account active because he will still be connecting to the network how do you do it? Right-clicking the user mailbox in Exchange 2010 displays options like 'remove' and 'disable.' Clearly I don't want to disable the mailbox because that will just disable the user mailbox instead of removing it right? Wrong. Disable is actually what you want to click to remove the mailbox while keeping the user account in Active Directory. Yes, the mailbox will be disabled for a while and not removed, but after a period of time (depending on your Exchange setup) the mailbox will be removed (deleted) from storage.

Yes, it's strange but clicking disable will remove exchange properties from the user account then the disconnected mailbox will be setup for deletion. Doesn't it seem like 'remove' should do this?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

SyncBack Free Review

I just finished testing 2BrightSparks SyncBack Free. I'm very satisfied with this free backup solution. I'm so satisfied that I'm going to stop using the previous solution I used for simple backups.

SyncBack Free isn't intending to be an enterprise level backup solution so don't expect features like that in this free solution (though their paid pro version does that stuff). What it does do though it does very well. For my environment, I wanted to backup my documents and outlook content to a shared storage location. In my past experience this has either been very easy and thus neglecting some extra features or very complicated and thus keeping me from wanting to use the product. Syncback Free takes an approach that I like a lot by having two modes: easy mode and expert mode. In easy mode and expert modes you first name your backup profile, e.g., outlook profile.  Then, you decide what this profile is going to be: backup, synchronize, or mirror (these choices are explained by hovering your mouse over the "?" next to each choice). After naming and choosing the purpose for your profile you automatically are in easy mode. In this mode you can setup your source and destination folders (local, external, or network paths to choose), setup a schedule, and choose what you want to happen if SyncBack Free encounters a duplicate file during a backup, e.g., do you want to copy and replace, do nothing, prompt, etc. If you're done then you can do a simulation run to test the backup. You can choose expert mode from the left menu bar before going through with the simulation run.

In expert mode, you obviously have more options to design your backup profile. This is the part of Syncback Free I really like. Expert mode has options like compression, encryption, FTP, Programs-before and more. One to thing to point out: by default, Syncback Free backups your data to the destination as is. What do I mean? I mean that if you go to your destination drive to view your backup you'll see all your data just the way it looks in your source drive, i.e., the backup isn't zipped into a single folder  or encrypted. Anyone with access to that destination drive will be able to access your data without any problem. This is important to point out and the only flaw, I've found, with SyncBack Free. It's basically a copy and paste by default. Expert mode allows you to change this. In the compression section you can check the box to compress the files on the destination into a zip file, then check the box below it to put all the files into a single zip file and if you want you can choose the level of compression. Doing this will make the size of your backup smaller and make the backup a single zipped folder. You can also encrypt your compressed backup which is nice.

So that is my review of SyncBack Free. It's my impression that this solution is for personal use and for very small businesses who can't afford to pay for a solution that is more robust than this free solution. The Pro version is 54.95, but it has a lot of features that make the product worth the price.

If you're looking for a backup solution for your home or small office then checkout SyncBack Free.