Dirty Solutions to Tricky Problems

So a client has an Exchange 2003 server that routinely gums up after BackupExec does its work. This thing has defied all manner of troubleshooting, with regard to antivirus, disk location, server utilization, etc., so the only remaining solution is to restart the information store service every morning. (Yes, I know, we really should figure out what the problem is.)

Instead of making the IT person get up every morning at 7 am to do it, how ’bout a little scripting magic? Windows is no UNIX, but we can try.

First, some useful commands to stop and start a service:

net stop MSExchangeIS /y
net start MSExchangeIS /y

Works peachy if the service is actually responding. When it’s stuck, it doesn’t stop on request. You have to kill store.exe in Task Manager. But how do you script that? With PsTools, silly!

So in between that stop and start request, we add:

pskill store /accepteula

Make sure pskill is somewhere in the path of the user executing the batch file. The /accepteula switch is to prevent it from sticking at the EULA which pops up on first use, and perhaps again? — but since this is automated, you’d never know that it stuck, just that your information store never restarted.

Important here, by the way, is to try to stop the service before you kill it. That way if the thing is responding, we don’t send it the shock of a rough shutdown. Pskill will fail gracefully if the service is already stopped.

Put these bad boys in a batch file and run it after the backup completes. Presto change-o, an information store that is ready for the business day.

A side note: It seems that running Exchange on a Domain Controller is a bad idea. But this is Windows Small Business Server, so that’s exactly what we have. One major problem is that shutting the system down takes a full 30 minutes, because Windows kills Active Directory before Exchange and it sits spinning its wheels not knowing AD will never respond. Possible solution (not tested yet) is to script an Exchange shutdown by group policy before Windows itself starts shutdown. This one is for implementation another day…

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