Enterprise Software

SolutionBase: Get a handle on managing Exchange with these three new tools from Microsoft

Select the symptoms of your problem

This gallery is also available as a TechRepublic article.

The Exchange Server Performance Troubleshooting Analyzer

The first tool that I want to discuss is the Exchange Server Performance Troubleshooter Analyzer (ExPTA). The ExPTA's purpose is to help you to discover the cause of Exchange related performance problems. In the past, if an Exchange Server started performing poorly for no apparent reason, you would have to use the Performance Monitor to look for clues as to the cause of the problem (assuming that you aren't running Microsoft Operations Manager). The Performance Monitor is an excellent diagnostic tool, but you have to know how to interpret the raw data. The chances of a newbie Administrator being able to make sense of the raw data and figure out the cause of the problem within a reasonable amount of time are pretty slim.

This is where the ExPTA tool comes into play. This tool is designed to ask you some questions about the symptoms of your performance related problem and then to help you solve that problem by analyzing your server for you.

Before I show you how to use the ExPTA tool, I should mention that you might want to run this tool during non peak hours from a machine other than your Exchange Server. The analytical process consumes CPU cycles and memory. If your Exchange Server is already performing poorly, then the added stress of running this tool could potentially cause the server to crash. Running the ExPTA tool from another machine and during non peak hours minimizes the strain placed on your Exchange Server.

With that said, the first step is to download and install the tool. I'm not going to go through the installation process because it is extremely simple to complete. Once the tool is installed though, it is accessible from your computer's All Programs | Microsoft Exchange menu.

When the tool starts, the first thing that it does is checks for updates. Once you have downloaded and installed any available updates, you will be taken to the utility's Welcome screen. This screen, shown above, asks you what symptoms you are experiencing. As you can see in the figure, there are currently only two choices available. Keep in mind though that Microsoft has indicated that the tool will be expanded as new tests are developed.