Thursday, February 02, 2017

Important PowerShell Commands when Exchange ECP Quits Responding

Managing an email server can require a delicate touch. An email server manages much more than simply email. Not only is the server passing emails, it may also be responsible for:
  • Scanning the email body for SPAM
  • Scanning attachments for malware
  • Storing contacts
  • Managing calendar events and schedules
  • Tracking tasks
  • Managing and storing distribution lists
  • & More!
Most maintenance, like creating or disabling user mailboxes, can be done without interrupting the normal functions of the server. However, occasionally services or functions fail to respond normally and a reboot is required to get these working as expected again. Since email servers are responsible for so many things, most administrators plan reboots outside of normal business hours when possible. 

Below is a list of important PowerShell commands that can be used when the ECP management console fails to respond and a reboot would cause additional inconveniences to users.

Important PowerShell Commands when Exchange ECP Quits Responding

Find out which databases are mounted
If a user reports they cannot access their email, and after checking to make sure they are online and they are not struggling with a credential issue, verify the mailbox database they are a member of is mounted.
  • From within Exchange Powershell, type: Get-MailboxDatabase -status | format-table Name, StorageGroup, Mounted, OnlineMaintenanceinProgress

Mount a database
If a database is dismounted, everyone whose mailbox is in that database will not have access to their email. Instead of rebooting Exchange for a single database, and therefore interrupting every user, try mounting the database first.
  • From within Exchange PowerShell, type: Mount-Database -Identity 'Name of Database'

Check the status of database indexes (required by search)
If users report they cannot search in their email, whether by sender, recipient or subject matter, check to make sure the index for that database is in a healthy state. 
  • From within Exchange PowerShell, type: Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus

To fix an index currently in a failed state, stop both Exchange search services.

Once the services are stopped, remove the search index folder from within the affected database folder and restart the search services. This causes the search index for that database to be rebuilt.

NOTE: Do not perform these actions unless you are proficient with Exchange and have an up-to-date, working and tested backup solution.

Microsoft Exchange email is a powerful tool that manages much more than email. From calendar items to scanning email for potential threats, Exchange is responsible for maintaining and protecting the lifeblood of most businesses: communication. Being productive in any business without the assistance of email is challenging. There are times when computer systems are in such a state of failure that rebooting is less painful than limping along. Other times knowing important PowerShell commands like the ones listed above provide workarounds when dealing with a non-responsive ECP interface.

As always, knowing more than one way to accomplish the same thing is the best way to save time and preserve efficiency!

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