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ExInfo: A Little-Known but Useful Tool for Exchange Administrators

I discovered an interesting little tool for Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server this week. The tool is the Exchange Information Collection Tool (ExInfo), and although ExInfo doesn't "solve world hunger," it can be a great little companion for an Exchange administrator.

I don't know ExInfo's origins, but my guess is that the tool is the result of some pet project by someone in Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) or Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). ExInfo is a small Visual Basic (VB) application that runs locally on an Exchange 2000 server and provides diagnostic and system-state data about the server as well as a lot of Active Directory (AD) information. For its primary interface, ExInfo uses Windows 2000's Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), which is Microsoft's implementation of Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technology. ExInfo uses WMI queries on the local Exchange 2000 server and queries to AD to provide a great deal of useful information. ExInfo is primarily a query and reporting tool; it doesn't make any configuration changes unless you specifically program that functionality through the tool's scripting interface. To use ExInfo, you must be running Exchange 2000 Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later and Win2K SP1 or later. When you run the tool on the local server, you must log on with sufficient permissions to access WMI, AD, and any items that the scripts you plan to execute might require.

ExInfo's GUI has three tabs that represent the tool's main functions: Information Collection, Custom Scripting, and File Collection. The Information Collection function gathers information from the WMI interface and AD (through a connection to a Global Catalog—GC—server). You can view this information from the GUI, or you can have ExInfo generate a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) Data Interchange Format (LDIF) dump file of the Configuration Container. In addition, ExInfo can output the information to HTML-based reports. The Information Collection tab lists several information containers, including Organization-Wide Data, for objects such as administrative groups, servers, Internet message formats, recipient policies, process and services list, logical disks list, and Exchange WMI classes. The WMI information is a little slim, but Microsoft will expose more and more Exchange information through WMI in future Exchange releases. Another interesting option in this tab view lets you execute a built-in script that queries the GC and performs an integrity check of Exchange 2000 recipient and configuration information in AD.

The Custom Scripts tab is simply an interface that lets you execute custom scripts and display script output and error messages on the viewer pane and save those messages to a log file. You can specify whether subsequent script executions append or overwrite log file output.

The File Collection tab is a GUI for compressed cabinet format (CAB) file creation. File Collection lets an administrator package any of the scripts or files that ExInfo creates (or any file on the server) into a CAB file.

If you're looking for a tool to gather data for your Exchange 2000 servers or if you want a convenient way to execute scripts or view Exchange WMI information, take a look at ExInfo. The tool is free from Microsoft PSS and comes with the standard disclaimers about limited support. For more information, click here.

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