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We are pleased to announce the availability of the Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer v2.1. The new version can be downloaded from here. Starting next week, for those running ExBPA v2.0, you will be prompted to upgrade to v2.1 the next time the tool is started.

List of enhancements included in ExBPA v2.1

- HBA Collection - ExBPA.MSI package now installs the WMI extensions required for querying Host Bus Adaptors through the HBA API. This allows ExBPA to automatically collect configuration and diagnostic information from HBAs such as Emulex, Qlogic and LSI (see attached screenshot). The extensions need to be installed on the Exchange server. Either install ExBPA or the FCInfo tool on the server to enable collection of HBA information. NOTE: Once the extensions are installed on the server, ExBPA will be able to collect the information even when running from a remote workstation.

- Performance Baseline - In addition to the regular 'Health Check' scan, a new scan type of 'Health/Performance Check' can be run. This tells the BPA engine to sample key Exchange and Operating System performance counters and produce statistics showing the 90th percentile and maximum value. The list of counters is based upon the Exchange 2003 Performance Troubleshooting whitepaper. The performance statistics will be displayed in the "Baseline" report once the scan has completed. By default, 240 samples will be taken at 30 second intervals (i.e. 2 hour run). These defaults can be overridden with the following registry parameters:

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Exchange\ExBPA
Value: PerfSamples
Type: DWORD
Data: The total number of samples to collect (default: 240)
 
Value: SampleInterval
Type: DWORD
Data: The time to wait between each sample (default: 30)

NOTES:
1. The time estimation in the UI is fixed at 2 hours, it does not take into account any registry overrides.
2. ExBPA uses a global 3-hour timeout for processing each Exchange server. If you wish to increase the sample time beyond 2.5 hours, a modification will be necessary to the ExBPA.Config.xml. (MaxTime="ALL,180;...").
3. The percentage complete values shown during scanning are based on object completions. As the sampling process is implemented as a single object, the server completion state will appear to 'stick' between 35 and 40% for the 2-hour sampling period. This is expected.
4. It is possible to sample multiple servers at the same time. However, you should keep the number of servers in scope to a minimum (e.g. less than 10)
5. Unlike the regular 'Health Check' it is important to run the new 'Health/Performance Check' when the Exchange server is at its busiest. As ExBPA uses the performance data helper (pdh) library to sample counters, the overheads on the server should be no greater than regular sampling with performance monitor (sysmon). To reduce overheads, it is recommended that you run ExBPA from a workstation rather than the server console.
6. In the initial ExBPA v2.1 release, Error and Warning rules have not been implemented for performance data. These will be introduced in a web update.
7. The sample data is stored as a comma-separated list embedded within the output XML. The ExBPA UI does not support the graphing of this data, or direct conversion to performance monitor log format. The overhead of collecting and storing the data is small. For example, scanning an organization containing a single Exchange 2003/Windows 2003 server:
 
        Health Check - 2,938 KB
        Health/Performance Check - 3,078 KB

- Cluster Reporting - Reports such as the 'Full Issues List' separates physical nodes from the virtual server. The new format makes it easier to identify issues that need to be corrected on individual physical nodes.

- Wildcard Collection - The BPA engine now supports wildcard collection from the registry. This enables a new set of rules, in particular exclusion settings for file-level antivirus products and Windows firewall configuration.

- Latest Rules - Includes the latest Config XML file (rules database). Over 100 new rules have been introduced in v2.1 - see the list at the end of this e-mail. Specific areas of improvement include the recipient update service, third-party anti-virus checking, and debug settings. In addition to the new rules, over 30 existing rules have been reconditioned to provide better clarity.

- Better Screen Layout - The size of the main report window is now based on the screen resolution rather than fixed at 800x600.

- Scan Selection Information - When viewing the list of previous scans, the Config XML version used for the collection is now displayed in the details panel.

- UDP Support - In addition to TCP, the new version of the tool can connect to ports using UDP. For example, new rules use this function to test the availability of WINS servers.

- Checksum Operations - The BPA engine now supports the calculation of MD5 checksums. While the current rules database does not utilize this feature, it can be enabled in the future without updating the binaries.

Bug fixes

- Command-line parameters used with EXBPACMD are now case-insensitive.
- For automatic updates, the tool now uses IE configuration settings if the default proxy server is not available.
- Better handling of Date/Time formats.
- Export functionality no longer deletes the original output XML file.
- The language of the tool is no longer derived from the regional settings. Instead, the OS language is used.
- Clearer instructions for when the scheduler can be used.

Other notes

- ExBPA v2.1 is available for U.S. English only. Other languages will be refreshed later on in the year.
- In-place upgrades from ExBPA v2.0 to v2.1 are supported.
- The build number for ExBPA v2.1 is 7599  (Displayed as 2.1.7599.0 in the ExBPA UI. Files on disk will be version 6.5.7599.0).

List of new rules introduced in ExBPA v2.1

We thought it might be interesting to you to see new rules in this release; some releases have more rules and some less, but new rules are direct result of feedback that we get on the tool:

  More than 800 address lists are present
  More than 800 global address lists are present
  Intelligent Message Filter is not installed on one or more servers running Exchange Server 2003
  MaxPageSize is set too high
  Active Directory Connector software update is required
  Exchange organization has zero recipient policies
  Exchange organization has zero system policies
  Everyone security group is not denied the right to create top-level public folders
  Envelope journaling is enabled
  Mailbox Enable User system policy change required
  SMTP address is not defined in the default recipient policy
  Message routing loop may exist
  Search filter change required for recipient policy
  Recipient Update Service software update required
  Recipient Update Service is inactive
  Recipient Update Service did not process all changes
  Recipient Update Service appears to be stalled
  Recipient Update Service is configured for full rebuild
  Recipient Update Service full rebuild
  Offline Address Book generation is set to update continuously
  Replica of Offline Address Book version 3a not found
  Replica of Offline Address Book version 2 not found
  Cannot connect to the routing master on port 25
  Cannot connect to the routing master on port 691
  networkAddress attribute is not set correctly
  RPC binding does not contain FQDN
  Cluster debugging is enabled
  Single global catalog present in topology
  Active Directory round-trip response error
  Server has less than four storage groups but more than four mailbox stores defined
  Information Store service is configured to interact with desktop
  Circular logging is disabled
  Offline address book is not associated with mailbox store
  Background Cleanup interval for a mailbox store is missing
  Aging Keep Time interval for database is non-default
  Default public store is remote
  Maximum cached views has been modified
  Maximum cached views is set too low
  Maximum cached views is set too high
  Message journaling is enabled
  Background Cleanup for a mailbox store is non-default
  Background Cleanup interval for a public folder store is missing
  Background Cleanup for a public folder store is non-default
  msExchAlternateServer attribute has been set
  SMTP server accepts basic authentication
  Anonymous access is enabled
  External DNS server is used for SMTP
  SMTP queue folder and pickup folder are identical
  Intelligent Message Filter is not enabled on the server
  Intelligent Message Filter is enabled on the mailbox server
  Extended SMTP verbs are not available
  System Attendant service is configured to interact with desktop
  System Attendant service is not running as LocalSystem
  Exchange Management service is not running as LocalSystem
  Performance data from Epoxy Client Out Queue Length (DSAccess) counter
  Performance data from Epoxy Client Out Queue Length (SMTP) counter
  Performance data from Epoxy Store Out Queue Length (DSAccess) counter
  Performance data from Epoxy Store Out Queue Length (SMTP) counter
  Performance data from SMTP Local Queue Length counter
  Performance data from SMTP Remote Queue Length counter
  Performance data from SMTP Categorizer Queue Length counter
  Performance data from RPC Operations/sec counter
  Performance data from Virus Scan Queue Length counter
  Performance data from RPC Requests counter
  Performance data from RPC Averaged Latency counter
  Performance data from Average Disk sec/Read counter of the LogicalDisk performance object
  Performance data from Average Disk sec/Read counter of the PhysicalDisk performance object
  Performance data from Average Disk sec/Write counter of the LogicalDisk performance object
  Performance data for Average Disk sec/Write counter
  Performance data for Log Record Stalls/sec counter
  Performance data for Log Threads Waiting counter
  Performance data for Available MBytes counter
  Performance data for Pages/sec counter
  Performance data for % Processor Time counter
  Performance data for Bytes Total/sec counter
  Performance data from LDAP Read Time counter
  Performance data from LDAP Search Time counter
  Update available for McAfee GroupShield 6.0 for Microsoft Exchange
  Update available for Sybari Antigen 7.5 for Microsoft Exchange
  Update available for Sybari Antigen 8.0 for Microsoft Exchange
  Update available for McAfee GroupShield 5.2 for Microsoft Exchange
  Messageware Plus Pack is installed
  ASP.NET Rootver is damaged
  Administrative file shares disabled
  INO_FLPY.SYS version update available
  INO_FLTR.SYS version update available
  The version of the Tcpip.sys file installed on this computer may require a hotfix
  URLScan is installed
  Filter update for Intelligent Message Filter is available
  Windows Server 2003 SP1: Outlook Web Access hotfix is required
  MTA Stacks service is configured to interact with desktop
  Exchange resident on domain controller that is not a global catalog server
  Exchange Server 5.5 resident on Active Directory domain controller
  Primary WINS server failed to respond
  Network card checksum offloading is enabled
  Network card teaming is enabled
  SiteName is hard-coded
  RestrictRemoteClients registry key is enabled
  EnableAuthEpResolution registry key is enabled
  Application log size
  The TEMP/TMP variable appears to point to an invalid or inappropriate folder
  NSI Software Double-Take is installed
  Windows Management Instrumentation service is not running as LocalSystem
  BCC journaling is enabled
  TarpitTime has been implemented
  ReloadOSInterval is non-default
  Path for RPC proxy server extension is incorrect
  DSAccess PreloadBaseDNs registry parameter is non-default
  DSAccess PreloadFilters registry parameter is non-default
  AssertOnEvent is set
  BreakOnEvent is set
  Debug Break At Startup is set
  Store working directory is missing or incorrect

Please send any questions and feedback to exbpafb AT microsoft.com. Thanks!

- The Microsoft Exchange Operational Support Tools Team