It's bound to happen. Your boss is going to call you at the
most inopportune moment ranting and raving about some super
important email message that hasn't been delivered. It's times like
this when you really want to know how to track messages sent in your
organization. Thankfully, Microsoft has provided this ability for
Enabling the Exchange Message Tracking Center
By default, message tracking is not enabled in Exchange Server,
but it is something that you will want to configure at the earliest
possible opportunity. The only real downside to message tracking is
that you will consume some extra system resources along the
way-however this is not a large concern these days on adequately
powered systems. If you are trying to run Exchange Server on the
bare minimum of systems (and have other resource heavy applications
on the same machine), you may see a decrease in performance from
message tracking; in all other cases, don't expect to have any
problems as a result of tracking messages.
To enable message tracking you must select the Enable message
tracking option from the General tab of the server
Properties page, as shown in Figure 1. To open the server Properties
page, right-click the server of concern and select Properties
from the context menu.
Figure 1 - Configuring message tracking.
If you also want to track and display message subjects you should
place a check in the Enable subject logging and display check
box. I will show you the difference between having this selected and
not selected later in the article (can you guess what it is?). The
last configuration you need to make is when (if ever) to remove the
message tracking logs that will be written by the tracking process.
As you can see in Figure 1, I've configured log removal for 7 days.
You may want to consider something between 15-30 days depending on
how much and how important your average message traffic is.
That's all you have to do:pretty simple, eh? You will need to do
this for each server in your organization if you have more than one.
The next thing to do now is sit back and wait for the day you need
to track down a message:that's the next topic of discussion.
Using the Exchange Message Tracking Center
Using the Message Tracking Center is a fairly straightforward
experience, similar to searching through Active Directory. Most
administrators should have no problems at all quickly finding
messages they are looking for-provided that your logs date back far
enough to support finding the message in question. The Message
Tracking Center is located in the Tools node of the Exchange System
Manager and is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 - The Message Tracking Center.
To search you need to specify a minimum amount of data, to
include the server of concern and either a sender or recipient.
Additionally, you need to provide the date range to search within.
Figures 3 through 6 show the selection of the sender, server,
recipient and date range respectively.
Figure 3 - Selecting the sender.
Figure 4 - Selecting the server.
Figure 5 - Selecting the recipient.
Figure 6 - Selecting the date range.
Clicking Find Now will start the search with the
parameters configured while clicking New Search will clear
all fields. Figure 7 shows the results from a search I conducted
using the parameters shown.
Figure 7 - Search results.
By selecting any specific message, you can gain additional
information about it, as shown in Figure 8. Note that Figure depicts
a message that was sent to an internal recipient. Figure 9 shows
SMTP information as this was for a message that was sent to an
Figure 8 - Details for an internal
Figure 9 - Details for an external
If you have configured the server to display subject line
information, this will be shown as seen in Figure 10.
Figure 10 - Details for an external message with
subject line data.
Other Important Stuff
Your tracking log files will be stored (by default) in a folder
located at x:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\servername.log, where x
is the volume you have installed Exchange Server onto. Inside this
folder you will find a text file for each day that logs are being
retained for. You can open these files and work from them if you
want, but I would recommend doing it in Excel as the files are
tab-delimited and very hard to sort through otherwise. You could
even write a custom script to parse the logs and create an easy to
read report for you should you desire.
The Message Tracking Center has been upgraded in SP2 and can
track messages anywhere in an organization, even on Exchange 5.5
Servers or Exchange 2000 Servers running SP1 or below. MSKB
# Q311840 has more information on this and also some problems
that you may experience running the Message Tracking Center on an
Exchange 2000 SP2 machine.
Should you need to troubleshoot public folder replication
problems, you can search for messages that have been sent from an
alias similar to the following:
Pub-IS@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx By tracing the message path, you may be
able to determine where the messages are disappearing at.
Well, that's really about all there is to say about the Message
Tracking Center. Hopefully you can use it to save the day and be the
hero. Have you got a story about using the Message Tracking Center?
Let me know by sending me an email, I'd like to hear how
it's working for you.
Will Schmied (BSET, MCSE 2000,
MCSA) is freelance technical writer and has contributed works to
several of the Internet's largest IT websites, including MCP
Magazine, TCPMag.com, TechRepublic, CramSession.com, ISAServer.org
and MSExchange.org. Will has also contributed to several other
projects, including several books and magazine articles. You can
visit Will at http://www.soitslikethat.com/ or http://www.netserverworld.com/.