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What a past 2 days

The past 2 days have been rather busy for me, not to mention somewhat mind bending. I went back to my old high school, Groote Schuur High School, to help sorting out the IT infrastrucutre during the school holidays with my old computer studies teacher. They have had constant stability issues, with one thing or another giving issues. So we decided that a clean start was the only way.

When I got there yesterday, we firs saved the last of the critical data, and then proceded to format both of their servers, install Windows 2003, Service Pack 2 and updates, Active Directory, Exchange 2003 and Service Pack 2 on the one, and various other applications. We made good progress, and did most of the heavy stuff during the day.

Today we did more fine tuning, setting up the less critical programs, joined some workstations back up to the domain, tested user accounts and home directories and stuff out. All went well, and I learnt how to delegate tasks in Active Directory, which is something I’ve seen but never had to make use of. Now my old teacher can get a few of his trusted computer monitors to change user passwords and create accounts in specified OU’s only, which is a major burden lifted off his shoulders.

However, the rest of the day was spent trying to extract user mailboxes out of the old Exchange database files, so we could import it into the new clean Exchange server. There is documentation on the net, but it’s somewhat hard to decipher. I’m a mid level Exchange user, but this stuff made my brain hurt. I did some database repairs and a defrag, but these took a long time due to the sheer size of their files. Eventually I got it cleaned up enough to get it into a Recovery Store in Exchange System Manager, but I wasn’t clued up enough to know what to do from there.

Eventually I found the Exchange Merge tool, which promised to do what I needed of it. All went well, but when it came to the last part, it couldn’t read the mailbox info out of the Recovery Store. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to work. By that time I had to leave, but as we were going out the door, my teacher came up with a possible solution: boot up the hard drive with the old Windows Server+Exchange install on it, and run the tool from there. It sounded a great idea, but we were out of time so I couldn’t test that theory. When I go back there soon I hope to get that done.

In the mean time I intend to read up more about this, but boy oh boy is it complex. For tonight I’m just going to relax and let my brain unwind.

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