Unresponsive Exchange Server

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My company's Exchange Server 5.5 server recently hung—I couldn't log on to the server, see any services or processes, or do a remote shutdown. However, I could still connect to shares and use the Windows NT Event Viewer. The event logs provided no clues about why the system was hanging. Users were still able to connect to the server, although the user load was low because the problem occurred at the end of the day. Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete had no effect on the Exchange server, so I had no way to shut down the server other than using the power button. I was uncomfortable with this option because the Exchange services were up and running fine, and I knew from previous experience that using the power button to shut down the server would seriously corrupt the .edb files.

I decided to force a shutdown. I figured that if I filled up the hard disk on which the Exchange database resides, Exchange would detect that no further space was available to use and the Exchange services would shut down. I was correct. The Message Transfer Agent (MTA) shuts down first. The Information Store (IS) shuts down on the next try to generate a log file, so I sent a few attachments to myself. After the IS shut down, I cycled the power. The system came up again without any corruption.

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