Exchange Server Monitoring – Best Practices

Microsoft Exchange plays an important role in the success of many businesses, especially considering how crucial e-mail is in getting things done. However, Exchange will only serve its purpose if it is running efficiently. IT professionals must employ the best practices in monitoring servers, including critical services and processes.

Although counters are useful in monitoring load and performance, they do not guarantee the availability of Microsoft Exchange. Yet Exchange availability is the most important thing for IT professionals to monitor.

Important Things to Monitor

In addition to monitoring counters, the following things must also be considered:

• The average number of synch requests-per-second, which help in verifying that mobile devices are always synchronized with Exchange server

• Current connections that make it easy to schedule maintenance when there are relatively few users, which means not many people will be affected

• Average response time that helps in determining how long users wait for information they request. As the time users spend waiting increases, they are likely to assume the server is down and then call for assistance

• Messages sent or delivered per second validate that users’ emails get delivered. Monitoring mail flow ensures the Exchange server is not being used to relay spam or that botnets have not compromised user’s workstations

• LDAP Searches timed out per minute: Failed searches mean there is a problem with the Active Directory, which may have a serious impact on Exchange

• Available virtual memory: If virtual memory gets too low, it can lead to different errors and other problems, including shutting down of the Exchange server

• CPU utilization monitoring helps in determining the amount of CPU used at a given time

• Free disk space: Running out of disk space can lead to problems like mailstore corruption

• SMTP Queue Growth: If the queue is growing, it means messages are not being sent. The same applies to X.400 Queue Growth

• Windows Service Monitor gives error messages if specific services stop

• Hardware: Some applications may fail to function correctly due to an underlying hardware problem. Unforeseen hardware problems can cause applications to stop suddenly

IT professionals should set up effective solutions for monitoring their Exchange servers. A good exchange server monitoring system does not only show possible problems but also what to do when an issue arises.