Windows Tips & Tricks UPDATE--August 16, 2004

Windows Tips &amp Tricks UPDATE, August 16, 2004, —brought to you by the Windows &amp .NET Magazine Network and the Windows 2000 FAQ site

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  • Q. How can I determine whether my new Global Catalog (GC) is ready to service clients?
  • Q. When should I manually defragment a domain controller (DC)?
  • Q. I recently promoted a server to a domain controller (DC), and now my event log reports an SPNEGO (Negotiator) event. What's causing this error?
  • Q. How can I determine which domain controllers (DCs) my Microsoft Exchange Server system is using?
  • Q. How can I specify the Global Catalog (GC) that I want my Microsoft Exchange Server system to use?

by John Savill, FAQ Editor, [email protected]

This week, I tell you how to determine whether a new Global Catalog (GC) is ready to service clients, when you should manually defragment a domain controller (DC), and the cause of an error that might occur after you promote a server to a DC. I also explain how to determine which DCs a Microsoft Exchange Server system is using and how to specify the GC that you want an Exchange server to use.

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Q. How can I determine whether my new Global Catalog (GC) is ready to service clients?

A. When you enable a domain controller (DC) as a GC, the DC can't start offering a GC service immediately. If you have multiple domains, the GC has to replicate information from another GC or for other domains before it can start functioning as a GC. By default, the new GC will wait at least 5 minutes before offering itself as a GC. You can check the Directory Service event log for event ID 1119, which confirms that the server is now a GC.

If you want to automatically check the status of a new GC, you can create the following VBScript script on the DC:

Set objRootDSE= GetObject("LDAP://RootDSE")
Wscript.Echo "GC ready: " & objRootDSE.Get("isGlobalCatalogReady")

Save the code in a file called gcready.vbs. Then, to run the script, enter the command

cscript gcready.vbs

Q. When should I manually defragment a domain controller (DC)?

A. An online defragmentation of the Active Directory (AD) database occurs during the (AD) Garbage Collection process that runs every 12 hours by default. This defragmentation optimizes the database's structure but doesn't shrink the database's size. If you've deleted a large number of records from AD or, more likely, you've disabled a DC as a Global Catalog (GC) server and you have multiple domains, AD might benefit from an offline defragmentation to shrink the physical size of the AD database.

Q. I recently promoted a server to a domain controller (DC), and now my event log reports an SPNEGO (Negotiator) event. What's causing this error?

A. If this event (event ID 40960 or 40961) appears only once in the event log, you can ignore it. The error occurs when the File Replication Service (FRS) starts before the directory service. If the error persists, you most likely have a problem with the directory service and should start troubleshooting Active Directory (AD).

Q. How can I determine which domain controllers (DCs) my Microsoft Exchange Server system is using?

A. Exchange has an internal process called MSExchangeDSAccess Topology Discovery, which runs every 15 minutes and rediscovers the contents of Active Directory (AD). For each DC it discovers, the process runs a series of tests against the DC and selects one or more DCs that contain the information that Exchange requires (i.e, a configuration DC, a domain DC, and a Global Catalog--GC).

You can check the status of the Topology Discovery process by viewing the Application event log. The chosen servers are logged in event ID 2081, as the following example shows:

Event Type: Information
Event Source: MSExchangeDSAccess
Event Category: Topology
Event ID: 2081
Date: 8/3/2004
Time: 7:17:25 PM
User: N/A
Computer: VPC2003SMS
Process MAD.EXE (PID=1708). DSAccess will use the servers from the
following list:
Domain Controllers:

Global Catalogs:

The Configuration Domain Controller is set to vpc2003sms.demo.local.

For more information, click

If selected GCs are unavailable, the process will attempt to contact them every 5 minutes until the next topology discovery. If the GC is unavailable when the Topology Discovery process is run, the process removes it from the list of DCs it can use. When the GC comes back online, the Topology Discovery process detects it during the next check. An alternative way to view the DCs that the Exchange server is using is to select the Directory Access tab of the Exchange server's properties page, as the figure at shows.

Q. How can I specify the Global Catalog (GC) that I want my Microsoft Exchange Server system to use?

A. If you want to force the Exchange server to use a specific GC instead of letting the server automatically choose a GC, you can perform the following steps:

  1. Start the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Exchange System Management (ESM) snap-in (Start, Programs, Microsoft Exchange, System Manager).
  2. In the treeview pane, navigate to Administrative Groups, &ltadministrative group name&gt, Servers.
  3. Right-click the server and select Properties.
  4. Select the Directory Access tab.
  5. From the Show drop-down list, select Global Catalog Servers.
  6. Clear the "Automatically discover servers" check box.
  7. Click Yes in the confirmation box.
  8. Click Add.
  9. Enter the name of the GC to use.
  10. Click OK.

Microsoft recommends that you don't manually set the GC that Exchange Server uses; therefore, you should manually set the GC only when it's absolutely necessary.

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