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February 18, 2010

Technical Interview Questions (Part 3/4) [EXCHANGE SERVER]

Filed under: General IT Related — Syed Jahanzaib / Pinochio~:) @ 9:40 AM


Technical Interview Questions (Part 3/4)

Edited & Maintained by SYED JAHANZAIB /

  • Tell me a bit about the capabilities of Exchange Server.

Microsoft Exchange is a server that centrally stores a company’s email, files, task lists, calendar and contact information. General features of Microsoft Exchange Server are following:

  • Mobile access
  • Centrally stored information
  • Shared calendars
  • Shared task lists
  • Shared contacts
  • Outlook Web access

The Capabilities of Exchange Server is for Communicating through Emails,with the help of Exchange Server one can configure OutLook and can communicate through mails. In Exchange Server POP3 and SMTP Service plays vital Roles. POP3 Service helps in receiving emails and SMTP Service helps in Sending Emails.

Microsoft Exchange Server is a client-server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. Exchange’s major features consist of electronic mail, calendaring, contacts and tasks; support for mobile and web-based access to information; and support for data storage

  • What’s the main differences between Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000/2003?
  • What are the major network infrastructure for installing Exchange 2003?
  • What is the latest Exchange 2003 Service Pack? Name a few changes in functionality in that SP.

The main difference between Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000/2003 is in Exchange 2000/2003 we can assign full rights to Users to make changes to Exchange Server without Admin if we assign rights like creation of Users , assigninig particular user particular right and this can be done with the help of registry key goto HKCU—Software–Microsoft— ExchangeServer and add a Dword key and assign a value 1.where as this is not possible in Exchange 5.5.

Exchange 5.5 does not integrate with the NT4 domain or the  Windows 2000/2003 Active Directory in a meaningful way. A single user could be associated with several different  mailboxes. Exchange 2000/2003/2007 integrates tightly with Active Directory, and there is a 1:1 relationship between mailboxes and AD user accounts. There are other differences, depending on whether you have a standard or enterprise version as it relates to maximum database size, but the directory integration is probably

the biggest difference.
The primary differences are…

-Exchange 2000/2003 does not have its own directory or directory service; it uses Active Directory instead.

-Exchange 2000/2003 uses native components of Windows 2000 (namely, IIS and its SMTP, NNTP, W3SVC and other components, Kerberos and others) for many core functions.

-SMTP is now a full peer to RPC, and is it the default transport protocol between Exchange 2000/2003 servers.

-Exchange 2000/2003 supports Active/Active clustering and was recently certified for Windows 2000 Datacenter/2003.

-Exchange 2000/2003 scales much higher.

-It boasts conferencing services and instant messaging.

To Instal Exchange Server 2003 the major requirements are a system should be a Domain Controller with ASP.Net Service started for successful installation of Exchange Server.

Latest Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack is service pack2 (SP2) adds improved mobile e-mail capabilities, larger storage in Standard Edition, better protection from spam, enhanced security, advanced mailbox fundamentals, and more.

  • What are the disk considerations when installing Exchange (RAID types, locations and so on).

Exchange 2003 basically requires a server with at least 512MB though 1GB or more is recommended.

CPU is always an issue, but most servers and even workstations have enough CPU horsepower for Exchange if you’re not loading your server with anything else that is CPU intensive. Exchange supports hyper threading feature available with Pentium 4 and other CPUs. If you need more CPU power you can use Intel Xeon which can offer you more cache and multiple CPU support.

Today, 64-Bit support is available in some CPUs but is Not support by Exchange 2003 and will only be available with the next version of Exchange, E12.

Disk configuration is a complex issue and is covered in my article:

To make a long story short, today, you can choose either SATA disks for lower end Exchange servers or SCSI disks if you can afford it. SATA disks can give you more disk space for less money but are generally slower though by far better than ATA (IDE) disks. You will need some form of disk redundancy (RAID) so disk failure will not bring you down. Hardware based RAID is recommended in most cases.

When planning for disk space it is best to leave room for a bit more than double the disk space expected for the Exchange databases. 32GB or more for the Exchange database partition is recommended for Exchange Standard edition.

Recommended Server hardware

•              Four 1 gigahertz (GHz), 1 megabyte (MB) or 2 MB L2 cache processors

•              4 gigabytes (GB) of Error Correction Code (ECC) RAM

•              Two 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or 1000 Mbps network interface cards

•              RAID-1 array with two internal disks for the Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 program files

•              Two redundant 64-bit fiber Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) to connect to the Storage Area Network

  • Why not install Exchange on the same machine as a DC?

well, this is not a good pratice to so and the reasons behind are :

1. Redundancy and Stability – if the exchange server fails then Domain Controller also fails and it concludes a big failure…

2. Overload : It may overload your existing server and that can cause a significant performance problem.

Alternate Answer is :

1-LDAP Port Conflict may Occured



  • How would you prepare the AD Schema in advance before installing Exchange?

Part of the Exchange installation is to run ForestPrep. ForestPrep extends the AD schema by adding Exchange-specific properties. If you just start the Exchange setup, it guides you right through this step.

  • What type or permissions do you need in order to install the first Exchange server in a forest? In a domain?
  • How would you verify that the schema was in fact updated?

Exchange Full Administrator at organization Level and Local machine Administrator Permissions
You need Schema Admin, Domain Admin and Enterprise Admin Permission.

That can be check by accessing the Active directory. When you create new user, you can see four more attributes or tabs in the user properties. That means the schema has been updated.

  • What type of memory optimization changes could you do for Exchange 2003?
  • How would you check your Exchange configuration settings to see if they’re right?

Add /3GB switch to boot.ini file and you can use upto 3GB memory instead of 1GB by default.

Once your exchange server configuration is done run the tool EXBPA.exc .This will give you the correct ficture of  your exchange organization.

  • What are the Exchange management tools? How and where can you install them?

Exchange Management tools are to monitor, analyze and troubleshoot the Exchange Server. By default XGE 2K3 is not installed with XGE mgmt tools. we need to download from microsoft or xge setup and install them.

you may install these tools directly on server not need to be XP client

These tools are install by default for 2007 Xge server

Ø      What types of permissions are configurable for Exchange?

If you modify the default permissions on Exchange Server 2003 mailbox stores and public folder stores, make sure you maintain the following minimum permissions:

•              Administrators group   Full Control

•              Authenticated Users group   Read and Execute, List Folder Contents, and Read

•              Creator Owner   None

•              Server Operators group   Modify, Read and Execute, List Folder Contents, Read, and Write

•              System account   Full Control

1)Exchange full admin – full control over the exchange organization including permission

2)Exchange Admin – Manage everything within the organization except org permission.

3)Exchange view only administrator – read only administrative access to Exchange organization

  • How can you grant access for an administrator to access all mailboxes on a specific server?
  • What is the Send As permission?

1. Start Exchange System Manager.

2. Drill down to your server object within the appropriate Administrative Group. Right-click it and choose Properties.

3. In the Properties window go to the Security tab.

4. Click Add, click the user or group who you want to have access to the mailboxes, and then click OK.

5. Be sure that the user or group is selected in the Name box.

6. In the Permissions list, click Allow next to Full Control, and then click OK.

Note: Make sure there is no Deny checkbox selected next to the Send As and Receive As permissions.

7. Click Ok all the way out.

“Send As” allows one user to send an email as though it came from another user. The recipient will not be given any indication that the email was composed by someone other than the stated sender.

“Send As” can only be granted by a system administrator. “Send on Behalf of” may be more appropriate in many situations, it allows the recipient to be notified both who the author was and on who’s behalf the email was sent. (See How to grant Send On Behalf Of permission.)

The following procedure will allow system managers to grant users the ability to send as another:

  1. Log onto the server running Exchange.
  2. Run Active Directory Users and Computers.
  3. Under the “View” menu ensure that “Advanced Features” is ticked.
  4. Find the user’s account that you want to be able to send as, and open up the account properties.
  5. Select the “Security” tab.
  6. Click [Add …] (under “Group or user names”) and add the user (users or group) that is to be granted permission to send-as this account.
  7. For each account added, highlight the account under “Group or user names” and in the “Permissions for …” window grant the account “Send As” permission.
  8. Click [OK] to close the account properties dialog.


Send As Permission means user A will be able to access the mail box of user B and reply back to those mail. Even though user A has replied to the mail, the send address will display user b email.

Active Directory Users and Computers or the Exchange Management Shell to grant the Send As permission for a mailbox. Use the Send As permission in Microsoft Exchange Server to configure a mailbox so that users other than the mailbox owner can use that mailbox to send messages. After this permission is granted, any messages that are sent from the mailbox will appear as if they were sent by the mailbox owner.

  • What are Exchange Recipient types? Name 5.

The people and resources that send and receive messages are the core of any messaging and collaboration system. In an Exchange Server organization, these people and resources are referred to as recipients.

A recipient is any mail-enabled object in the Active Directory directory service to which Exchange can deliver or route messages. This topic discusses the recipient types that are supported in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

User mailbox

A mailbox that is assigned to an individual user in your Exchange organization. It typically contains messages, calendar items, contacts, tasks, documents, and other important business data.

Linked mailbox

A mailbox that is assigned to an individual user in a separate, trusted forest.

Shared mailbox

A mailbox that is not primarily associated with a single user and is generally configured to allow logon access for multiple users.

Legacy mailbox

A mailbox that resides on a server running Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange 2000 Server.

Room mailbox

A resource mailbox that is assigned to a meeting location, such as a conference room, auditorium, or training room. Room mailboxes can be included as resources in meeting

requests, providing a simple and efficient way of organizing meetings for your users.


In exchange 2003,

1.Mail-enabled user

2.Mailbox enabled user.



5.Mail-Enabled public folder

  • You created a mailbox for a user, yet the mailbox does not appear in ESM. Why?
  • What’s the difference between Exchange 2003 Std. and Ent. editions when related to storage options and size?

Generally, when you create a mailbox for a user. The user’s e-mail address will be updated in the GAL. During the  regular update interval. But in order for you to be able to view the mail box. The user has to access the Exchange  server (either through MS outlook or OWA). Then you will be able to view the user’s mail box.

OR if you send a test mail to that id then the mailbox will be populated in the ESM

Ø      What are Query Based Distribution groups?

A query-based distribution group provides the same functionality as a standard distribution group. However, instead of specifying static user memberships, you can use an LDAP query (for example, “All full-time employees in my company”) to dynamically build membership in a query-based distribution group.

This reduces administrative costs because of the dynamic nature of the distribution group. However, query-based distribution groups have a higher performance cost for queries whose outcome produces many results.

This cost is in terms of server resources, such as high CPU usage and increased memory usage. This increased usage occurs because every time an e-mail message is sent to a query-based distribution group, an LDAP query is executed against Active Directory to determine its membership.

Standard Edition

1.            One storage group

2.            2 Databases max per Server

3.            16 GB DB Size and 72 GB with SP2

4.            x.400 connectors not included

Enterprise Edition

1.            Four Storage group

2.            20 Databases

3.            16 TB DB size limited by hardware

4.            Clustering Supported

5.            x.400 connectors included

  • What are System Public Folders? Where would you find them?

In Exchange Server 2003, public folders can be used to share information between a group of users. In smaller organizations where only one Exchange server is typically installed, one public folder instance can exist.

Where there are multiple Exchange servers and you need to provide fast access to public folder information, then you would probably have to create an additional public folder


Public folders can be created through:

•              Outlook 2003

•              Outlook XP

•              Outlook 2000

•              Exchange System Manager

•              Windows Explorer

•              Internet clients

•              Web browsers

To View

Click Start, All Programs, Microsoft Exchange, and then select Exchange System Manager.

Exchange System Manager opens. In the left pane, expand the Public Folders container. All

existing folders in the public folder tree are displayed.

  • What are virtual servers? When would you use more than one?
  • What is a Mail Relay? Name a few known mail relay software or hardware options.

Exchange Virtual Server is a clustered Exchange installation. When Exchange is installed on a Windows Server 2003 cluster, it is configured as an Exchange Virtual Server that can be

passed between cluster nodes transparently to Exchange clients.

1. SMTP Virtual Server, 2. HTTP Virtual Server, 3.POP3 Virtual Server, 4. IMAP4 Virtual Server and so on


To access a network application or resource in a nonclustered environment, network clients must connect to a physical server (that is, a specific computer on the network identified by a unique network name and Internet protocol (IP) address). If that server fails, access to the application or resource is impossible.

Through server clusters, Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition enable the creation of virtual servers. Unlike a physical server,

a virtual server is not associated with a specific computer and can be failed over like a group. If the node hosting the virtual server fails, clients can still access its

resources using the same server name.

A virtual server is a group that contains:

A Network Name resource.

An IP Address resource.

All other resources, including applications, to be accessed by the clients of the virtual server.

Other virtual servers.

exchange server uses protocol virtual server

1.smtp virtual server

2.imap virtual server

3.http virtual server

4.pop3 virtual server

Often referred to as an e-mail server, a device and/or program that routes an e-mail to the correct destination. Mail relays are typically used within local networks to transmit e-mails among local users. (For example, all of the student and faculty e-mail of a college campus.) Mail relays are particularly useful in e-mail aliasing where multiple e-mail addresses are used but the mail relay forwards all messages to the specified e-mail addresses to one single address.

A mail relay is different than an open relay, where an e-mail server processes a mail message that that neither originates or ends with a user that is within the server’s local domain (i.e., local IP range).


Often referred to as an e-mail server, a device and/or program that routes an e-mail to the correct destination. Mail relays are typically used within local networks to transmit e-mails among local users.

(For example, all of the student and faculty e-mail of a college campus.) Mail relays are particularly useful in e-mail aliasing where multiple e-mail addresses are used but

the mail relay forwards all messages to the specified e-mail addresses to one single address.

A mail relay is different than an open relay, where an e-mail server processes a mail message that that neither originates or ends with a user that is within the server’s

local domain (i.e., local IP range).

Mail relay Softwares:

1.NoticeWare Email Server 4.3

2. Flash Mailer 20.

  • What is a Smart Host? Where would you configure it?

A smart host is a type of mail relay server which allows an SMTP server to route e-mail to an intermediate mail server rather than directly to the recipient’s server.

Often this smart host requires authentication from the sender to verify that the sender has privileges to have mail forwarded through the smart host.

This is an important distinction from an open relay that will forward mail from the sender without authentication. Common authentication techniques include SMTP-AUTH and POP

before SMTP.

1.Use for backup mail (secondary MX) services

When configured to be a backup mail server (not the primary MX record) a smart host configuration will accept mail on behalf of the primary mail server if it were to go offline. When the primary mail server comes back online, mail is subsequently delivered via the smart host.

2.Use in spam control efforts

Some ISPs, in an effort to reduce e-mail spam originating at their customer’s IP addresses, will not allow their customers to communicate directly with the recipient’s mail

server via the default SMTP port number 25. In this case the customer has no choice but to use the smart host provided by the ISP.A growing number of systems also verify the sending system against known lists of cable modem and DSL networks and will not accept SMTP connections from these systems to reduce the amount of incoming spam. Field tests have shown

this can have a sizable impact on the number of spam messages one receives and it is expected to become more and more common

3.Use in centralizing email services

When a host runs its own local mail server, a smart host is often used to transmit all mail to other systems through a central mail server. This is used to ease the management of

a single mail server with aliases, security, and Internet access rather than maintaining numerous local mail servers.

  • What are Routing Groups? When would you use them?

A routing group is a logical collection of servers used to control mail flow and public folder referrals. In a routing group, all servers communicate and transfer messages

directly to one another.

In a routing group, all servers communicate and transfer messages directly to one another, as follows:

1.            A user in your Exchange organization uses a mail client to send mail to another user.

2.            Using SMTP, the sender’s client submits this mail to the SMTP virtual server on the Exchange server on which the client’s mailbox resides.

3.            The Exchange server looks up the recipient of the mail message to determine which server the recipient’s mailbox resides on.

4.            One of two things occurs:
•              If the recipient’s mailbox is on the same Exchange server, Exchange delivers the message to the recipient’s mailbox.

•              If the recipient’s mailbox is on another Exchange server, the first Exchange server sends the message to the recipient’s home mailbox server, and it is the recipient’s home mailbox server that delivers the message to the recipient’s mailbox.


To accommodate varying network connectivity across servers.

To restrict the usage of a connector to users in a particular area.


Allows scheduling and control of mail flow. You can restrict connector use to a particular routing group or schedule the use of a connector.

Allows you to control usage based on message size or content by using connector restrictions.


Routing group is a logical collection exchange server.they communicate each other directly using RPC protocl over SMTP but if Exchange server exist into two diffenent groups,then

communcation will take place b/n these groups,if one of routing group connector esixt b/n routing groups mentioned below..

1 – Routing group conncetor

2 – Smtp Connector,

  • What are the types of Connectors you can use in Exchange?
  • What is the cost option in Exchange connectors? What is the cost option in Exchange connectors? If you add a cost from 1 through 100 to any Exchange Server connector’s Address Space tab, any messages that use that connector take the new cost into consideration when e-mail is routed.

•              Routing group connector

The routing group connector is the recommended connector for connecting routing groups that are in the same Exchange organization. This connector uses SMTP to transfer messages to other servers running Exchange Server 2003. The routing group connector can only be used to connect routing groups.

•              SMTP connector

The SMTP connector establishes a messaging route between two routing groups or between a routing group and a non-Exchange SMTP host. Although the routing group connector and the SMTP connector use SMTP as the transport protocol, the SMTP connector provides additional functionality in that it can be used to connect an Exchange organization with any SMTP server.

•              X.400 connector

The X.400 connector establishes an X.400 messaging route between two routing groups or between a routing group and an X.400 system. Like the routing group connector and the

SMTP connector, an X.400 connector can be used to link Exchange routing groups. Generally, X.400 connectors are used only when connecting to other X.400 messaging systems.

Exchange Server 2003 supports the following optional connectors that you can use to connect the organization to non-Exchange messaging systems:
•              Exchange Calendar Connector

Exchange Calendar Connector is used for exchanging free/busy information between an Exchange organization and a Lotus Notes or Novell GroupWise messaging system.

•              Exchange Connector for Lotus Notes

•              Exchange Connector for Novell GroupWise

Routing cost typically ranges from 1 through 99. The default is 1. If the cost of a route is set to 1, other routes are used only if that route does not work. If the cost of a route is set to 100, that route is used only when all other routes does not work.
Lowest cost has Highest priority.

What is the Link State Table? How would you view it?

Every Exchange server maintains its own routing table, called the link state table, dynamically in memory, based on Active Directory and link state information, as follows:
•              Routing-related Active Directory information. This information is stored in attributes of the organization object, routing group objects, connector objects, and

server objects. These objects reside in the configuration directory partition and define the routing topology of the entire Exchange organization.

•              Link state information   This information specifies whether each connector in the routing topology is available (up) or unavailable (down). Link state information is

dynamic and might change when a connector experiences transfer problems or when transfer issues are resolved.

View Link state table

you can use to view Link state table in Exchange Server 2000/2003 WinRoute tool (Winroute.exe)

  • How would you configure mail transfer security between 2 routing groups?

To configure security setting in routing group get a certificate from the CA you install it on the IIS server which runs on Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. The certificate can also be used for secure Web Outlook session. Once you successfully install the TLS\SSL certificate, you can precede with TLS configuration on the Exchange 2003 SMTP server

What is the Routing Group Master? Who holds that role?

When you create a routing group, the first server in that routing group is assigned the role of routing group master.
The routing group master keeps track of the link state information and propagates it to the other servers in the routing group, and other servers communicate back any changes in link state.

For example, if a member server tries to contact another server over a connector, and this link is unavailable, the member server immediately notifies the routing group master.

Likewise, when a non-master receives new link state information, it immediately transfers the link state information to the master, so that other servers can receive the information about the routing change

  • What is DS2MB?

Metabase update service, also referred to as the directory service/metabase synchronization process, or DS2MB (because this process is implemented in DS2MB.dll) is a component in

Exchange Server 2003 that is used to synchronize several Exchange configuration settings in Active Directory with counterpart settings in the IIS metabase.  The function of DS2MB is to replicate configuration information from Active Directory to the local IIS metabase.

DS2MB is short for Directory Service to Metabase and the purpose of this process is to transfer configuration information from Active Directory to the IIS Metabase. The

configuration is stored in the IIS Metabase instead of the registry mainly for performance and scalability reasons. The DS2MB process is a one-way write from Active Directory to the IIS Metabase, which means that the Metabase never writes back to Active Directory

  • What is Forms Based Authentication?

Exchange Server 2003 has greatly improved the Outlook Web Access (or OWA for short) experience when compared to older Exchange versions. Instead of entering the username and password in an annoying pop-up screen, when configured with Forms-Based Authentication (or FBA for short), OWA will display a logon screen that enables the user to select various options and get a generally better look for the logon process.

Ø      What is DSACCESS?

It is a exchange process to communicate with AD
DSACCESS: Means also communicate with Acdive Directory in Exchange Server
DSAccess implements a directory access cache that stores recently accessed information for a configurable length of time. This reduces the number of queries made to global catalog servers
Its very simple answer is that when exchenge clients send request to access his/her mailbox ,that time exchange sent cliets request for authentication to dc and for this it maintains a dsaccess profile in which it maintains the name of DC and GC server and according  to this profile it sends authentication request to clients nearest dc means dsaccess is a process which works as bridge between exchnage server and dc to pass AD releated query from exchange server to Domain controller.

Ø      What are Recipient Policies?

When you install Exchange for the first time, it determines the format of the SMTP address you’ll want for your users based on your organization name and the DNS name of your

domain. It places the result into an Active Directory object called a Recipient Policy
A recipient policy that manages e-mail addresses has the following characteristics:
•              It applies to a selected group of recipients.

•              It always contains information about the address types that are to be applied to those recipients.

•              It is given a priority, so that administrators can control which address is applied as the primary address to a recipient that may appear in more than one policy

  • What is the RUS?

RUS (Recipient Update Service) is responsible for making updates to e-mail addresses, and it does this based on recipient policy changes. These updates are made at a specific interval that is defined for the service. You can view the update interval and modify it as necessary.
RUS works hand in hand with GAL (Global Address List).  Together they generate the list of addresses that users see in Outlook.  I think of Exchange 2003’s RUS as a little engine which runs an LDAP query, the results are to build or update the Users’ property sheets and the Address Lists.

Here is a list of the jobs that RUS performs:

– Updates proxyAddresses attribute controlled by recipient policies.

– Initializes the homeMDB, homeMTA and msExchHomeServerName attributes.  Also the
legacyExchangeDN and msExchMailboxGUID if appropriate.

– Sets the showInAddressBook (or hideDLMembership).

– Sets the ACL on the Microsoft Exchange System Objects (Check with ADSI Edit)

– Populates the group called Exchange Enterprise Servers in Active Directory.

Ø      How can you create multiple GALs and allow the users to only see the one related to them?

This step-by-step article describes how to create Global Address Lists and how to set security levels on the Global Address Lists so only specific groups can view them.

When you use Exchange 2003 in a hosting environment, you must create multiple Global Address Lists. The address lists typically have different user accounts listed in them based on the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) filter that you create. By default, all the users in the Exchange 2003 organization can view all the defined Global Address Lists. This may not be acceptable in some situations; for example, it would not be acceptable at a company that that serves as an e-mail host for other companies. However, you can restrict access to a particular set of users for specific address lists.

For more step by step guide, look into

Ø      What is a Front End server? In what scenarios would you use one?

A fornt-end server is a server which is for load balancing / user security purpose. this server doesnot hold any mailbox stores or public folders. using this fornt-end server we can increase limitation ie.firewall, where other than users or admins cannot handle mailbox stores  since these mailbox store are kept in back-end servers.

front-end servers handles in coming client connections. in large org. front-end servers simplifies admins with UNIFIED NAMESPACE, FIREWALL, AND REDUCED OVERHEAD SSL.
Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server support using a server architecture that distributes server tasks among front-end and back-end servers. In this

architecture, a front-end server accepts requests from clients and proxies them to the appropriate back-end server for processing.

Ø      What type of authentication is used on the front end servers?

1. Basic Authendication

2. NTLM Authendication

Ø      When would you use NLB?

NLB is used for network load Balancing when there is a heavy information flow and network traffic. I can also be useful for applications which interact with users or database.
like Oracle, SQL, Exchange, etc.

A single computer running Windows can provide a limited level of server reliability and scalable performance. However, by combining the resources of two or more computers running one of the products in the Windows Server 2003 family into a single cluster, Network Load Balancing can deliver the reliability and performance that Web servers and other

mission-critical servers need.

  • How would you achieve incoming mail redundancy?

One can configure two routing group connector with different cost. Lets say primary with 10 and secondary RGC with 20 and both are pointing to different bridgehead servers. We can then setup a rule in smart host that if primary bridgehead server ip not reposing, start delivering emails to secondary bridgehead server.


There is an option in the mailbox store of the first routing group in the server that contains the mail box of a user. Drill down till the sorage group, right click and

select properties, in general tab, you can find “Archive all messages sent or received by mailboxes on this store. create a mail box enabled account called “master” (or anything you may like ;-)) and  select the account by browsing the accounts. so that user collects all the sent and received mails thrugh this store. Create a outlook account in a seperate machine for the user and bingo … u have all the mails.

  • What are the 4 types of Exchange backups?






  • What is the Dial-Tone server scenario?

See if a Database gets corrupt and if it is large, it would take hours to restore it and this would mean downtime. WIth Dial Tone recovery method what you do is, create an empty Database, for mails flow to continue and in the meantime use RSG to recover DB from backup. Once recovery is done, you merge recovered DB and new DB into one, this means no mail is lost.
For more info, see

  • When would you use offline backup?

OFFLINE BACKUP is simply flat file copy of the .edb and .stm file {database]
its taken when your stores are down and you have no other option except for hard repair to get the database clean

  • How do you re-install Exchange on a server that has crashed but with AD intact?

If you have multiple DCs then you can reinstall it using the disaster recovery switch. This will pullup the information from AD and reinstall it the way it was before after that you will have to restore the back up

If this was the only DC+Exchange Server than you will have to restore from backup (SYStem state bakcup) .

  • What are the e00xxxxx.log files?

E#######.log are the secondary transaction logs.  They are number sequentially starting with E0000001.log using the hexadecimal numbering format and are 5MB in size.

E##.log is the current transaction log for the database.  Once the log file reaches 5MB in size it is renamed E#######.log and a new E##.log is created.  As with the checkpoint file the ## represents the Storage Group identifier.  While the new E##.log file is being created you will see a file called Edbtmp.log which is a template for Exchange server log files.

  • What is the e00.chk file?

The E##.chk file maintains the checkpoint for the Storage Group. The ## represents the Storage Group number with the First Storage Group file called E00.chk. This checkpoint file keeps track of the last committed transaction. If you are ever forced to perform a recovery, this file contains the point at which the replaying of transaction logs starts.

  • What is circular logging? When would you use it?

In order to understand Circular logging, perhaps it is best to understand Exchange server Transaction logs in general.

Exchange uses transaction logs to add information such as e-mails, users and changes to the relevant database files on the disk of your Exchange server. In a default Exchange installation you will find them in the C:\program files\exchsrvr\mdbdata folder (they look like EBD.log and Edb0xxxxx.log), the other files in that folder are typically the Priv1.edb/Pub1.edb and Priv1.stm/Pub.stm files (Exchange Database and Streaming file plus the equivalent public folder databases) and an Edb.chk (checkpoint) file – more on this later.

The most recent transactions (data changes) are held in the Edb.log file when this file reaches around 5 MB in size another file called Edbtmp.log is created which temporarily takes over from the Edb.log accepting new changes to the database whilst the Edb.log is renamed to Edb00001.log.

After the Edb.log file has been renamed, the Edbtmp.log is renamed to Edb.log and then the process continues at every 5 Mb interval. – got that? – nope clear as mud I guess, think of it this way – when the Edb.log file gets to 5 MB another file comes in that takes over from it, whilst Edb.log gets a new name, then the interim file becomes the new Edb.log.

Exchange uses a process which is called “read ahead” transaction logs, this means that each transaction is placed within the log, the database cache and then into the relevant database itself. When the operation is written to the database the checkpoint (Edb.chk) is incremented which signals the position in the log files where the database is in a consistent (or clean) state – more on that in a minute.

This means that any amount of your transaction logs can be considered either active (not committed) or inactive (committed), if for any reason the store service is terminated (crash, power cut etc) Exchange will automatically recover the next time the server starts – this happens by Exchange “rolling forward” all of the transactions in the logs which bring us up to the marker in the checkpoint file (Edb.chk).

Logs will continue to be created until a full online backup of Exchange has been completed (using NTBackup or another vendors product) where the process of backing up will commit all transactions to the database in the log files, and then flush (delete) the files and then the system is ready to start again. It is at this point that I will say that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER MANUALLY DELETE THE TRANSACTION LOGS it is possible to identify unused logs – but – it is much easier to allow a backup product to do it for you.

Ok, I hear you ask, but what is Circular Logging?, well when Circular logging is enabled Exchange behaves in exactly the same way – but the key difference is when the checkpoint file is incremented the inactive part of the transaction log is overwritten by new transactions (rather than a new log being created). Now this in some aspects is Ok as you are still fairly protected in regard to hardware and software failures, but, you are not protected against media failures.

It is still possible to see more than one transaction log in the directory (for example if a large number of large sized mails are being sent – each log can only be 5 MB so if a 6 MB mail is sent that will produce an additional log) – and again these logs will not be cleared until a full online backup is completed. However generally speaking when Circular logging is enabled less log files are created.


If a database has not closed down gracefully it is said to be inconsistent. When this happens the database believes that it is still in communication with the transaction logs, however not all of the information from the logs may not have been committed to the database.

When the Database next starts up this situation is noticed, and the STORE process will attempted to commit the missing data from the logs (this is called replaying). If however the some logs that are required are missing the Database will not mount, and you will be left in the situation of having to use ESEUTIL to recover the database or return to a recent backup where the database was consistent (this is beyond the scope of this article – but I will cover it at some point).


Circular logging may at first glances seem like a bad idea, but it does have its uses in some Exchange environments – for example Front-End Servers (where there is no mailbox data) and relay servers (again no mailboxes) can make great use of it – however, for Database servers it is essential that Circular logging is not used as it will put you in the position of not having full control over your restoration processes.

  • What’s the difference between online and offline defrag?

Online defrag is an automated process which runs daily. The process rearranges mailbox store and public folder store data more efficiently, eliminating unused storage space. Online defragmentation makes additional database space available by detecting and removing database objects that are no longer being used. The defragmentation process provides more database space without actually changing the file size of the database.

Offline drag is a more complicated process. It compacts the exchange database and shrink to its right size. It is a time consuming process too. You usually do it when your exchange database is growing to its limits.,289483,sid43_gci1086459,00.html

  • How would you know if it is time to perform an offline defrag of your Exchange stores?

You need to do offline defrag only when needed.. in some issue like the database size limit exceeding to the max. when you do offline defrag.. it cleans up the white space on the database and hence helps to create large amount of space… this takes a very long time and runs at a speed of 4-5GB /hr

  • How would you monitor Exchange’s services and performance? Name 2 or 3 options.

Exchange Monitor 2003 Tool
SolarWind Exchange Monitor Tool

  • What is Direct Push? What are the requirements to run it?

Direct Push provides end-users by providing close to real over the air (OTA) push technology.

The DirectPush technology keeps your mobile device up-to-date by delivering e-mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks directly to your device, allowing you to react quickly to changes in your mailbox. AUTD v1 did the same thing but DirectPush offers several benefits.

The cool thing about the DirectPush technology is that it maintains an HTTPS connection between the Exchange server and the mobile device, a session which is kept alive by using heartbeats. This way the Exchange server can notify a mobile device whether or not there’s a change in the associated mailbox, and if a change occurs in the mailbox, the server can initiate a synchronization. Since the device keeps an open session to the Exchange server, some of you might think this could become rather expensive. But fear not because the device simply sits there and waits for a response, it doesn’t send or receive any data when it’s in this pending state. Said in another way, no data will travel over the wire, unless a change is detected in the mailbox, or the heartbeat expires.


As the DirectPush feature is a new technology included in Exchange 2003 SP2, it’s required that you apply Exchange 2003 SP2 at least on the Exchange 2003 front-end servers in your organization. Note that I say front-end servers, because your back-end servers can run anything from Exchange 2003 RTM, SP1 to SP2 as long as you have one or more front-end servers with SP2 applied. But although DirectPush doesn’t require it, I still recommended you upgrade the back-end servers to SP2 as well, not because you will gain any advantage out of doing so when it comes to the DirectPush technology, but because the service pack is packed with new great features and improvements as well as a lot of bug fixes. You can read more about the stuff included in Exchange 2003 SP2 in a previous article of mine.

In addition to the above requirements it’s highly recommended you adjust the time-out values for HTTPS connection in your firewall (more on this later in the article).

Client Side:
Another requirement in order to make use of the DirectPush technology is that the mobile devices need to run Windows Mobile 5.0. In addition the devices need to have the Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) installed. Although Microsoft shipped firmware that included the MSFP to mobile device manufactures back in October 2005, new firmware releases with the MSFP included have been heavily delayed. But March 2006 seemed to be the month where things started to kick off. Both i-mate and Qtek as well as Orange have finally released new firmware updates with the MSFP included, although so far only for their newer models.

The Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) is also known as the Adaption Kit Update 2 (AKU2)

  • What are the issues with connecting Outlook from a remote computer to your mailbox?

To connect Outlook from remote computer, you can have several issues depending on how you are connected to the exchange server. You have to be specific with your setup.

Some issues could be,
1. Network connectivity – The remote computer must be able to communicate with the exchange server
2. Password Issues – If using RPC over HTTP, the system keeps prompting for the User password.

  • What is RPC over HTTP? What are the requirements to run it?

RPC over HTTP/S is a cool method for connecting your Outlook 2003 client to the corporate Exchange Server 2003 from the Internet or WAN, without the need to establish a VPN session to the corporate LAN and/or needing to open many ports on your corporate firewall. The only ports you’ll need to open on your firewall are TCP 80 and, if using SSL, TCP 443.

In the past remote users where forced to use a VPN to connect Outlook to the corporate Exchange servers or be forced to use the limited features available in Outlook Web Access. With the release of Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 a new connectivity option was introduced: RPC over HTTPS. RPC over HTTPS tunnels remote procedure calls through an HTTPS connection allowing you to connect to the Exchange server when outside the corporate LAN without needing to establish a VPN connection. To understand how to troubleshoot issues, you need to be aware of what is going on when an RPC connection is made.

Server requirements

RPC over HTTP/S requires Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003. RPC over HTTP/S also requires Windows Server 2003 in a Global Catalog role.

Client requirements

  • The client computer must be running Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later.

  • What is S/MIME? What are the usage scenarios for S/MIME?

S/MIME: Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. S/MIME provides Digital Signatures and Message Encryption, as SMTP is inherently not secure.
Please Refer:

  • How do you enable SSL on OWA?

Outlook Web Access (or OWA for short) is one of Exchange Server’s best features, allowing you to connect to your corporate mailbox from virtually any spot on earth as long as you have an Internet connection and a decent web browser.

You can read more about OWA in the featured links at the bottom of this article.

OWA transmits traffic to and from the web browser in HTTP (based upon TCP, port 80) and in clear text, meaning that anyone could potentially “listen” to your talk and grab frames and valuable information from the net.

To secure the transmission of information between Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook Web Access clients, you can encrypt the information being transmitted by using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

For step by step Guide, Follow this link

What do you need to consider when using a client-type AV software on an Exchange server?

First thing, make sure your anti-virus is exchange aware or just exclude the databases from the real-time scan.

You need to make sure that it doesn’t scan any of the following:

1. EXCHSRV folder

  • What are the different clustering options in Exchange 2003? Which one would you choose and why.

Windows Clustering technologies can help you achieve scalability, availability, reliability, and fault tolerance for your Exchange 2003 organization. A cluster consists of individual computers (also called nodes) that function cohesively in a Cluster service. These computers act as network service providers or as reserve computers that assume the responsibilities of failed nodes. Depending on how you configure your cluster, clustering can simplify the process of recovering a single server from disasters.

In a clustering environment, Exchange runs as a virtual server (not as a stand-alone server) because any node in a cluster can assume control of a virtual server. If the node running the EVS experiences problems, the EVS goes offline for a brief period until another node takes control of the EVS. All recommendations for Exchange clustering are for active/passive configurations. For information about active/passive and active/active cluster configurations, see “Cluster Configurations” later in this topic.

A recommended configuration for your Exchange 2003 cluster is a four-node cluster comprised of three active nodes and one passive node. Each of the active nodes contains one EVS. This configuration is cost-effective because it allows you to run three active Exchange servers, while maintaining the failover security provided by one passive server.

To create Exchange 2003 clusters, you must use Windows Clustering.
Windows Clustering is a feature of Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition. The Windows Cluster service controls all aspects of Windows Clustering.
When you run Exchange 2003 Setup on a Windows Server 2003 cluster node, the cluster-aware version of Exchange is automatically installed.


  1. […] Technical Interview Questions (Part 3/4) [EXCHANGE SERVER] Filed under: General IT Related — Syed Jahanzaib / Pinochio~:) @ 9:40 AM […]

    Pingback by General Network Engineer Interview Questions General Knowledge Questions « Yogesh(Yogi) — June 6, 2012 @ 1:31 AM

  2. Hi, This is really nice info, can I get other exchange questions, 1/4, 2/4, 4/4 ? I coudn’t find anywhere.. could you send link.

    Comment by — October 25, 2013 @ 12:04 AM

  3. very good questions of Exchange

    Comment by pradee — November 6, 2015 @ 6:37 PM

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