Exchange Server Client Access URL Configuration Script

In my career, I have to be able to be efficient as most of my projects are on a time crunch schedule. Being able to quickly configure Exchange when setting up a server environment is crucial to the success of the project.

While still honing my skills in PowerShell, I was attempting to create my own script to help configure all of the Virtual Directories in one shot rather than go to each setting and configure them manually. It did not go very well, so as I do, I research and find great professionals that do great work in scripting so that I may learn from them.

In doing so, I found Paul Cunningham’s script that performs this. I took the following script and modified it to add the PowerShell Virtual Directory to it as I like to configure that as well.

***YOU CAN REM THE LINES OUT SHOULD YOU NOT WANT TO CONFIGURE THAT DIRECTORY***

Here is my version of the script:

NOTES:

  • PowerShell script to configure the Client Access server URLs for Microsoft Exchange Server 2013/2016. All Client Access server URLs will be set to the same namespace.
  • If you are using separate namespaces for each CAS service this script will not handle that.
  • The script sets Outlook Anywhere to use NTLM with SSL required by default.
  • If you have different auth requirements for Outlook Anywhere use the optional parameters to set those.
  • The script sets PowerShell to use Basic with SSL required by default.
  • If you have different authentication requirements for PowerShell use the optional parameters to set those.
  • PowerShell was added to the settings. Please be sure to REM those lines of code should you NOT want to configure the PowerShell Virtual Directory.

USAGE:

HAPPY SCRIPTING!
POSITIVE ENERGY!
PLEASE COMMENT!

REFERENCES:
Exchange Server Client Access URL Configuration Script
PowerShell Script to Configure Exchange Server Client Access URLs

Installing an ‘IP-less’ Exchange Server 2019 Database Availability Group

Yesterday, I posted on how Exchange now uses the Resilient File System (ReFS) to optimize and protect Exchange critical files. Another layer of protection is using a database availability group (DAG) for redundancy and is a necessary factor when designing an Exchange Enterprise Environment.
In this example, I will walk you through the installation of an Exchange Server 2019 DAG as I configured in my environment. This DAG will contain two Exchange Servers in the same site with a third Windows Server 2019 server being the File Share Witness (FSW).

Two Server Exchange DAG Configuration

For my configuration, I configured two identical Windows Server 2019 VMs (same procs, RAM, vhdx drives, partitions, etc…). I configured the Exchange Data Volume using ReFS and mounted them to the same folder on the C: Drive on each server. This is very important for replication to take place successfully when the databases are added to the DAG.


I next went to the Admin server where the FSW would be hosted and added the Exchange Trusted Subsystem Account to the local Administrators group on that server:

IMPORTANT!
Add the Exchange Trusted Subsystem Account to the Local Administrators Group on the FSW.

NOTE: The reason that this is an ‘IP-less’ DAG is that I’m creating a DAG with no cluster administrative access point (CAAP). The DAG has no IP address of its own, and no computer object in Active Directory. The main implication of this is that backup software that relies on the CAAP or backup operations won’t work. This option of an ‘IP-less’ DAG was first introduced in Exchange Server 2013 SP1/CU4, so by now any decent backup products should support this configuration. But you should always verify this with your backup vendor of choice. Also be aware that this is only supported for DAGs that are running on Windows Server 2012 R2 (or later).

Next, we create the DAG from Exchange PowerShell using the New-DatabaseAvailabilityGroup cmdlet. Now remember that since you are using the ReFS system for your database volumes, you will need to specify the -FileSystem parameter within the cmdlet to assure proper setup and replication of the data files.

Next, we add the Exchange Servers that hold the databases that will be replicated within the DAG:

The DAG will now show the two servers as Operational Member Servers:

The FSW Directory was created on the admin01 server when the DAG was created. We can verify that with the following cmdlet:

Next, we add the databases that we want replicated to the DAG as replicated databases. I want all my Databases on EX01 to replicate to EX02 and vice versa for the EX02 Databases. I want the activation preference to remain on the server that the databases were originally created on so I will use the -ActivationPreference parameter to accomplish that. I will go into more detail on Activation Preference in another post.

Now we verify that the Database Copies are healthy on each replication member using the Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus cmdlet. You will see a Healthy Status on the replicated copies:

POSITIVE ENERGY!
KILL NARCISSISM!
HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!

REFERENCES:
Installing an Exchange Server 2016 Database Availability Group

Using the Resilient File System for Exchange Server

In my ongoing effort for becoming more knowledgeable on Exchange Server, I found that the preferred new file system for Exchange Databases and Log files is the ReFS.
ReFS is not that new. Microsoft’s Resilient File System (ReFS) was introduced with Windows Server 2012. ReFS is not a direct replacement for NTFS, and is missing some underlying NTFS features, but is designed to be (as the name suggests) a more resilient file system for extremely large amounts of data.

Support for ReFS with Exchange Server

From Exchange Server 2013 and upwards (which includes Exchange Server 2019 today) Microsoft supports the use of ReFS for Exchange servers, and in fact they now recommend it as the preferred file system for Exchange Server 2019, within the following guidelines.

For Exchange Server 2013:

  • ReFS is supported for volumes containing Exchange database files, log files, and content index files.
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing Exchange binaries (the program files).
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing the system partition.
  • ReFS data integrity features must be disabled for the database (.edb) files or the entire volume that hosts database files.
  • Hotfix KB2853418 must be installed.
  • For Windows 2012, the following hotfixes must be installed:

This means that you should continue to use NTFS for your operating system and Exchange Server 2013 installation volume, but you can consider using ReFS for the volumes hosting Exchange databases, log files, and index files.

For Exchange Server 2016:

  • ReFS is supported for volumes containing Exchange database files, log files, and content index files.
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing Exchange binaries (the program files).
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing the system partition.
  • ReFS data integrity features are recommended to be disabled.
  • For Windows 2012, the following hotfixes must be installed:

This means that you should continue to use NTFS for your operating system and Exchange Server 2016 installation volume, and it is recommended ReFS for the volumes hosting Exchange databases, log files, and index files.

For Exchange Server 2019:

  • ReFS is supported for volumes containing Exchange database files, log files, and content index files.
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing Exchange binaries (the program files).
  • ReFS is not supported for volumes containing the system partition.
  • ReFS data integrity features are recommended to be disabled.

This means that you should continue to use NTFS for your operating system and Exchange Server 2019 installation volume, and it is recommended ReFS for the volumes hosting Exchange databases, log files, and index files.

Creating an ReFS Formatted Volume

In Windows Server during the New Volume Wizard when you get to the step for configuring File System Settings change the file system from NTFS to ReFS.

exchange-server-refs

NOTE: Using the New Volume Wizard does not give you the option to disable data integrity at the volume level. To set it at the volume level itself use PowerShell when configuring new volumes. I found this out the hard way and am now re-configuring my volumes to disable the Integrity Streams.

I needed to create the mount point to mount the volume to:

I then got a list of my available disks:

In my case, disk 2 was the one I needed to format and change. I had to create a new partition and then format it:

Once formatted, I mount the volume to the Directory created earlier:

NOTE: Partition 1 on a disk is always reserved for system files on the drive volume. So the active partitions will always start at 2.

Lastly, verify that the partition is online and that the Integrity Streams are turned off:

Additional Considerations

When you are deploying an Exchange 2016 or 2019 DAG and using Autoreseed, the disk reclaimer needs to know which file system to use when formatting spare disks. So when, creating a DAG in Exchange PowerShell, make sure to set the -FileSystem parameter. For Exchange Server 2013 DAGs, manually format the spare volumes with ReFS.

More coming soon. I will post how I setup the “IP-less” DAG for my environment and got replication functional for my Exchange Databases.

REFERENCES:
Exchange 2013 storage configuration options
Exchange 2016 Preferred Architecture
Exchange Storage for Insiders: It’s ESE (Ignite video)
ReFS Exchange Server Volumes
Preparing ReFS Volumes for Exchange

Customize your Outlook Web App Logon Page

As many of you are aware, Microsoft provides a default logon page for OWA, the Outlook Web App. Most companies, like myself want to be able to customize that page so that it suites your organization. Here is what my company OWA page looks like:

Customized OWA Logon Page

I have changed the color on the left to match my scheme, replaced the Outlook Logo with my company logo, and added a disclaimer to notify users. Below is the process to do that effectively for your organization.

NOTE: Every time you install an Exchange Cumulative Update (CU) or new version of Exchange Server these modified files will be replaced. Remember to backup your original and changed files to another folder so that you can replace them when you Update or Upgrade or if something goes wrong with the changes.

Customize the color of the Outlook on the web sign-in page

  • Use Notepad to open the file:

%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources\logon.css

  • In the logon.css file, replace the default blue hexidecimal color value #0072c6 with the HTML RGB value that you want to use. You can use the following LINK to choose the color you wish to use.
  • When you’re finished, save and close the file.

Here are the different graphics that can be changed on the OWA logon page and their associated files:

Outlook on the Web sign-in page with element call-outs
ImageFile nameLocationDimensions (width x height in pixels)Bit depth

favicon.ico 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
16 x 16 
32 

olk_logo_white.png 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
128 x 108 
32 

owa_text_blue.png 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
300 x 76 
32 

Sign_in_arrow.png (for left-to-right languages) 
Sign_in_arrow_rtl.png (for right-to-left languages) 
%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\<ExchangeVersion>\themes\resources
22 x 22 
32 
  • Just resize your images to the given dimensions in the table, rename them to the file name, and replace the files in the directory.

Change the disclaimer text for your OWA logon page

Next, we want to add a disclaimer to our logon page. To do that, we need to modify the logon.aspx document in the following directory:

%ExchangeInstallPath%FrontEnd\HttpProxy\owa\auth\logon.aspx

Open the file in Notepad or your favorite HTML editor and search for the text ‘hidden-submit’. When you find the text, you can add your disclaimer text under the div class=”disclaimer” tag as I did in the following example:

Save your logon.aspx file and give your OWA server an IISRESET for good measure. You should be good to logon with the new page from that point on.

HAPPY CONFIGURING!
PLEASE COMMENT!
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

References:
Customize the Outlook on the web sign-in, language selection, and error pages in Exchange Server
CUSTOMIZE EXCHANGE 2016 OUTLOOK ON THE WEB SIGN IN PAGE
Customizing Exchange 2016 OWA

Installation of Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019

I have realized recently that I am an Exchange Messaging Professional, but yet, I have not posted the methodology of how I install an Exchange Server Mailbox Role. So here it is!

Install Windows Server 2019

Exchange Server 2019 requires Windows Server 2019 to run. For my environment, I haven’t necessarily need to follow all the enterprise level design aspects of database numbers to mailbox size ratios, number of servers, front/back end configurations, DAG Implementation, etc… If you want or need to delve into that realm, you can go here. I have need for a single server with only a few databases for a small number of mailboxes, so I am approaching it from that standpoint.

So first, in Hyper-V, I configured my VM with the following specifications:

Processors: 2 procs with 2 cores each – 4 Virtual Processors Total
RAM: 32GB with dynamic memory enabled optional
Drives: 2 .vhdx drives of 120GB each (OS / Exchange Data)
CD: Windows 2019 ISO
Default Settings for the rest of the VM Settings

Next I installed Windows Server 2019 Datacenter with the GUI! You can install it on Server Core if you wish. That information can be found in this link.

I ran through the setup of Windows and installed the OS on my first vhdx drive. I booted up, set the local admin password, and logged in. Once in Windows, I went to the Local Server Settings in Server Manager and configured the following settings:

Set the Date, Time, and Time Zone. (Once in the Domain, this would sync through Group Policy)
Set IE ESC to allow Administrators to have full IE access.
Set Remote Desktop Settings to gain RDP access. (This would be locked down with Group Policy as well once on the Domain)
Set the IP Settings to Static Settings. (DNS Servers, Gateway, WINS, etc…)
Join the server to the Active Directory Domain.
Reboot the VM Server.
Logon to your Domain.
Configure Windows Update Settings. (I have WSUS through Group Policy, this was configured automatically upon reboot)
Download and install all Windows Updates for the server. Then Reboot.
Open Disk Management and configure the secondary vhdx drive to be your Exchange Data Drive.
I configured the drive to be a mounted folder ‘C:\Exchange\Data’ rather than another drive letter as that seems to be the more accepted form of installation for the data drive these days. That is based on the multiple configurations that I have seen for Exchange through experience in Enterprise environments. Again, to each is own and depending on you design specifications, you might want to do that differently.

Next, we need to install the prerequisites for the Exchange Mailbox Server. I have always used practical365.com to get the PowerShell script to install the prerequisites, but couldn’t find the article this time. Great site though! Instead, I got the information and ran the following from an elevated PowerShell Session locally on the server:

As part of the prerequisites you will need to install the following packages onto the server as well:

UCMA Runtime Install
Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio 2013

Once completed, you can begin the install of Exchange. If this is your first Exchange 2019 Server in your Organization, then you will need to run the following to update the Forest, Schema, and Domain so that Exchange will install properly:

NOTE: If you run into Prerequisite issues with the installation due to a “pending reboot”, check out my blog post for information on remediation of that issue.

Now that the environment is prepared for Exchange, you can actually begin the installation. I wanted to make my default database and logs folder to be on the Exchange Data volume that I created, so I included those settings in the setup command. Please look at the reference to the setup.exe switches for more information on that. Here is the command:

Setup should go through the installation via the PowerShell window and complete successfully. Reboot the Exchange Server, then you can then logon to the Exchange Admin Center and begin the process of configuration of how you need to integrate the Mailbox Server into your Server Farm. That configuration is for a later post.

PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES!
PLEASE COMMENT!

References:
UCMA Runtime Install
Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio 2013
Install Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019 Core
Exchange Server Design Planning
Use unattended mode in Exchange Setup
Practical365 on Exchange 2019

Exchange Hybrid Configuration Wizard Link

Wanted to do a quick post as I was working on my Hybrid Exchange Environment. I was unable to get the HCW to download and start from the Exchange Control Panel with the link provided on the page. This has happened to me for a while, so I went online and found a link that would work that could be downloaded and reused to open the HCW:

Hybrid Configuration Wizard Link

HOPE THIS HELPS!
LET ME HAVE KNOWLEDGE SHOULD THE LINK CHANGE!

References:
HYBRID CONFIGURATION WIZARD WON’T START ON WINDOWS 2016

Exchange Setup Repeatedly Says ‘A Restart from a Previous Installation is Pending’

I have had this issue with EVERY upgrade that I have ever attempted for Exchange Server from 2013 through 2019 CU1. You go to run the setup program and during the prerequisite checks, setup stops. The error listed is:

A restart from a previous installation is pending. Please restart the system and rerun setup.

During the prerequisite checks, Exchange Setup looks in the registry at the following keys:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\UpdateExeVolatile
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\PendingFileRenameOperations

Nine times out of ten, a restart does NOT remediate this error. In order for setup to continue properly, you must do the following:

  • Open regedit: Start > Run > regedit.exe
  • Set the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\UpdateExeVolatile key value to 0 or delete it if present. <– This one is usually NOT present.
  • Delete the HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\PendingFileRenameOperations key.
  • Re-run Setup.

You should now be able to run setup and upgrade your Exchange Server.

PLEASE COMMENT!
HAPPY TROUBLESHOOTING!

References:
A Restart From Another Installation Is Pending
Exchange Setup Fails – A Restart From Another Installation Is Pending
Microsoft Document – A Restart From Another Installation Is Pending