Free Utility for Exchange Custom Filter

I’ve blogged previously about Exchange 2003 IMF (Intelligent Message Filter). One of the somewhat hidden features of Exchange 2003 and IMF is the ability to implement a custom weighting feature via an XML file. This feature first came out in IMF v2. MsExchange.org has a good article on how to implement the custom weighting feature of IMF.


However, there has always been a small issue with using the custom weighting feature — the custom XML file that you create has to be put inside a specific subfolder. The problem is that when Microsoft releases an update to IMF, the installation process creates a new sub folder automatically. However, the XML file is NOT autoimatically copied to the new folder.


What to do? Until recently, one had to remember to manually copy your XML file from the old folder to the new folder.


But now, Oliver Sommer (SBS/EBS MVP from Germany) has developed a free utility (Exchange Custom Weighting Feature XML Updater) that installs on your your server (works great with SBS 2003) and automatically copies your custom XML file to the new folder whenever a new IMF update has been installed. I’ve been personally running various beta and early versions of this utility successfully for more than a year.


Give it a try.


And if you like it, even though Oliver is offering the utiity for free, you may want to give him a small donation via PayPal. And while you are at his site, check out his Wake on Lan for SBS 2003 RWW utility!


Cheers!

SBS, WHS and Backup Software

One of my mottos has always been: “You cannot have enough backup!”. So, I am always investigating and testing backup software. When Microsoft first releasd Windows Home Server (WHS), I knew that this was a product I would be testing. Well, tonight, it saved my bacon!


My own SBS 2003 server that has been running for years experienced a serious hard drive failure. Fortunately I do use Raid-5 disk configuration. So I shut down the server, replaced the drive, fired up the server to rebuild the Raid, and then rebooted. But apparently something else was amiss, as Windows would not boot up properly, reporting a failure or corruption with Active Directory. After trying a couple of other options unsuccessfully, I decided to see if WHS would get me back online.


Yes, I use WHS as my backup software of choice for backing up my SBS 2003 server! (P.S. The WHS Team has an informative article here).


So, I pulled out my WHS Restore CD and booted my server off the CD. However, it did not load a driver for my NIC card. No problem, as I knew the drill: go to another workstation, fire up the WHS Console, view the backup directory for the computer in question (my SBS server), and copy the contents of the WHS Drivers for Recovery folder to a USB thumb drive, and rename the folder to DRIVERS. I then took the thumb drive back to the server, where the WHS restore screen has a convenient button to install additional drivers. An hour later my server was back online and operational!


Lessons learned? There are lots of vendors offering backup software solutions for the Windows marketplace. I have used Acronis, ShadowProtect, and others. These are all good products. But WHS is a real winner for me, and for many of my small business customers. I have WHS installed and backing up both SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 servers, plus serveral peer-to-peer networks. It just works! It has even recovered a Windows 7 Beta laptop for me!


Now, someone may say that offsite (or remote online) backups are required, and I would not argue that point at all. Remember: I believe in multiple levels of backup solutions. But for the small business and home environments, WHS is an excellent backup software solution.


Cheers!