A Microsoft Exchange environment can quickly become a beast to manage: hundreds or thousands of mailboxes, several servers with different functionalities, and disparate teams managing their own piece of this mammoth deployment. Who keeps sending unauthorized emails from the CEO’s account? Where did all the storage space that was just installed go? What changed the access permissions and activated these mailboxes? These are all questions that ManageEngine’s Exchange Reporter has been curated to answer.
To make this program even better, ManageEngine has just decided to give out Exchange Reporter Standard edition for 25 mailboxes for free! You can still download the Professional version with a 60-day full evaluation version too.
The Exchange Reporter installation wizard couldn’t have been easier. The software is supported on all Windows operating systems, including XP. It also supports all Exchange versions since 2003. More information can be found on ManageEngine’s website.
I was up, running, and collecting data from my Exchange environment within five minutes with nearly zero configuration steps! Seriously. All I had to do was select a port for the web server to run on.
And then I signed up for the optional Technical Support:
And that was it!
I did not configure anything after the installation. Exchange Reporter automatically discovered all of my Exchange servers and immediately started collecting data and metrics.
Note: Two caveats I found were that Exchange Reporter requires MAPI to be installed, and if you have Outlook installed some of the reports won’t run. Again, the software requirements can be found on the website.
After the installation, an icon for Exchange Reporter displays in the notification area.
This icon enables you to get the status of Exchange Reporter, open the web console, and turn off Exchange Reporter.
The web interface
When the web console is initially opened, you are prompted with a sign-in screen. The default user name and password is “admin.” You will notice, however, that you can select the dropdown for “Log on to:”. The name of your domain has already been discovered and, once you log in, you can configure which AD users you would like to give permissions to.
The Home tab ^
After you log in, you will see a dashboard area. This single pane allows you to quickly see some of the more important aspects of your Exchange environment, such as recent alerts, mail store sizes, and email volume.
Web console - Dashboard
As I said before, I did not have to configure anything for Exchange Reporter to start gathering this information. Within minutes, statistics were already being populated on the dashboard.
Web console - Home tab shortcuts
On the right side of the Home tab is a shortcuts area that provides quick access to some of the most common reports.
The Reports tab ^
The Reports tab is absolutely massive. This is where the core of Exchange Reporter lives and thrives.
Web console - Reports tab
There are reports for storage, distribution lists, OWA and ActiveSync, email traffic, and much, much more. Although each and every report is invaluable in itself, here are a few that I personally think help me out with my day-to-day management:
- Number of Messages by Sender report under Mailbox Traffic: This information helps determine whether a user’s computer is infected or if that user has a chain mail addiction. Either one of these can impact the performance of the Exchange environment.
- Mailbox Stores Growth report under Mailbox Store Reports: Drive space is always an issue with email. This report helps forecast how much drive space will be needed in the future and whether a new mail store needs to be created.
- OWA & ActiveSync: Several reports in this section are helpful. You can find out whether users are logging in on the OWA site or with ActiveSync clients, such as phones, for security purposes. You can also obtain details about sync requests, devices, and policies. My favorite report under this tab is the Log On Specifics report. This report can tell you absolutely everything you need to know about a user login.
- Servers report under Server Reports: This report gives a quick overview of how many mailboxes, mail stores, and public folders are on a server and what the function of that server is. This information definitely helps with balancing your environment.
The Audit tab ^
Although the Audit tab is not as colossal as the Reports tab, it still contains a significant amount of information.
Web console - Audit tab
Here are a few of the highlights of the audits that can be performed on this tab:
- Mailbox logons
- Non-owner mailbox logons
- Permission changes
- Quota changes
- Stores mounted and dismounted
- Admin and non-owner activity on a given mailbox
You will also notice a message in blue at the top of the page that says “Exchange Reporter Plus’ Auditing Feature is supported only in ‘Professional Edition’.” As I will mention in the Licensing section of this article, the Audit tab requires that you purchase the Professional edition of Exchange Reporter. This tab will become inaccessible after the 60-day trial.
The Admin tab ^
This tab is simple and straightforward. There are only a handful of options you can configure on this tab.
Web console - Admin tab
You can create and change report schedules, manage users and licenses, and change the web server port and web interface template of Exchange Reporter.
The Support tab ^
The Support tab is a quick and easy way for you to get help from ManageEngine.
Web console - Support tab
You can see the newest forum discussions and announcements and quickly navigate to ManageEngine’s website to get any support you may need.
As mentioned before, ManageEngine has just changed its licensing structure. You can get up to 25 mailboxes licensed for free with Exchange Reporter Standard. For the Professional version, 100 mailboxes is the minimum purchase requirement.
The main difference between the two versions is the ability to use Exchange Server Auditing. After your initial 60-day evaluation period, Exchange Reporter will no longer allow you to access the Audit tab, and it will revert to the Standard edition with 25 free licenses.
To find out more information and to see the pricing structure, visit ManageEngine’s website.
The number one thing I love about Exchange Reporter is that there is absolutely no impact on my Exchange servers. There is no client to install and no extra configuration. The program reads the logs from the Exchange servers and domain controllers and compiles all of the information into clear, effortless reports.
Another win for Exchange Reporter is the automatic configuration. The second it is installed, the program seeks out all of the servers it needs to build the reports. It just can’t get any easier than that.
Lastly, the sheer amount of reports and audits offered are staggering. More than 100 are available at your fingertips. Absolutely every aspect of your Exchange environment will be exposed, leaving no stone unturned.
Cons and room for improvement ^
The only real suggestion for improvement that I can make is to allow users to completely configure the dashboard. Currently, all of the “widgets” are permanent, and you can only refresh the data on them. You can’t move them or replace them. Similarly, the shortcuts on the right should be configurable to allow users to link to their most commonly used reports.
Because the environment I work in is so substantial, and my company runs lean, I have more on my plate than just monitoring and digging into my Exchange servers. This software helps alleviate the stress and complications of running my Exchange environment on every level. Thanks for reading!