Delegate Management of Distribution Groups

owner of group

Ever wanted to stop managing a distribution group because you get 90 million requests every other day to add someone or remove someone from said group?  Ok, maybe not 90 million but it has to be close to 80 million right?  Sometimes you will run across a distribution group that changes its membership frequently.  The best solution I’ve found is to find a point of contact for that group who will be able to manage the membership.  This means less requests to you in the future.

Normally, what I do is add the person as the ‘owner’ under the properties of the distribution group.  While this does nothing to give the person rights to the group, it does allow me to remember which member of the group is the point of contact.  In the example above, I added Scooby Doo as the owner of the 4th Floor NAs (nursing assistants) distribution group.  This allows me to remember the person (or cartoon dog) I am granting write permissions to manage the group to.

Next you have to do some powershell magic to grant write permissions to that very same person:

Add-ADPermission -Identity:'Group Display Name’ -User:domain\username -AccessRights ReadProperty, WriteProperty -Properties 'Member'

Now, if you wanted to grant permissions to a group of people…you might not be able to add an owner…but you can fill out the ‘notes’ section shown in the picture above and drop yourself a line to remember which Active Directory group has permissions to write membership of the group.  The command here would be:

Add-ADPermission -Identity:'Group Display Name’ -User:'Display Name of Permissions Group’ -AccessRights ReadProperty, WriteProperty -Properties 'Member'

I know this has been covered in countless other blogs and other nooks and crannies of the interwebs…I’m sure I’m not telling anyone anything new.  Please remember though that this blog is not only a tool for people to find on the internet…but also a knowledge repository for myself.  I can find the things that are most useful to me simply because I write about them.  I know where to look after I blog about them…and I can guarantee that this blog will be up indefinitely since I host it myself.  That’s more than I can claim for most blogs/resources of information out there covering these topics…most blogs dry up after a few years.

Hopefully, this information will help a few searching souls out there looking to decrease their distribution list management burden.  Thanks for reading!

Find Number of Mailboxes per Database with Powershell

I previously posted about how to count total number of what I thought was mailboxes on any given server…and today I realized that when I used the command from that post I was coming up with a number just a bit too high for what I was looking for.  I did some research and found out that this command finds any entry for any recipient on the server you’re running it and reports back.  For example, I have just over 2000 objects in Recipient Configuration in the Exchange Management Console (EMC).  This is reported back if I use that command.  What I really wanted to know though was how many users mailboxes I have per database.

Of course, powershell is the easiest way to accomplish this.  Powershell is POWERFULL…but sometimes you just need to do simple things with it and instead of having a simple powershell command, you have a complex one.  It’s not the fault of powershell of course…it’s just how things happen to work.  Just the same, here is the command that you can use to get a nice readout of how many users you have in each database:

Get-MailboxDatabase | Select Server, StorageGroupName, Name, @{Name="Number Of Mailboxes";expression={(Get-Mailbox -Database $_.Identity | Measure-Object).Count}} | Format-Table -AutoSize

Please note this command is for a single mailbox server environment…if you have clustered or multiple mailbox database servers the command will probably be different.  Breaking down the command…with Get-MailboxDatabase we’re selecting all databases in our environment.  Next we’re selecting a few columns of data…server, storage group name.  Next we’re selecting a column titled Number Of Mailboxes and we’re defining an expression.  The expression grabs the identity of the single database and then does a count of each individual mailbox…it then returns that value under the name “Number Of Mailboxes”.  The last bits format the table and autoresize it to fit on your powershell screen.

You could output this to CSV relatively easy as well and you could even incorporate this into a nightly report if you really wanted to.  I know the command isn’t very simple…which is odd considering that it should be much simpler to find out the number of people on a single database.  If there are easier ways to do this…I haven’t found them.  You can use EMC to select the column and then sort and highlight the number of people for a quick and easy way…but I prefer powershell.  I hope this helps someone out!  I know it is a command I can’t live without!

Powershell Recipient Count for Exchange 2007

The other day I wanted to get a quick count of how many recipients I had in the enterprise.  Of course, I wanted to be able to run a powershell command instead of going into the EMC.  I fooled around with the Get-MailboxStatistics command until I got what I wanted and figured it would be a nice little one liner to share:

Get-MailboxStatistics | group MailboxDatabase | format-table count

This is a very simple command that just outputs the count (number) of recipients you have on a given exchange mailbox server.  Of course, if you have more than one server you’ll need to specify that inside the command.  Since I only have one, it’s pretty simple.

UPDATED:  Please note that this returns ALL recipients…not just mailboxes (as I thought when I initially posted this).  That means contacts, distribution groups, etc.   For a way to find how many user mailboxes you have in each database check this post.  Thanks for reading!

How to Fix Ghost Delegates and List Delegates in Exchange 2007

The Problem of Ghost Delegates

There is a problem with Microsoft Exchange 2003 and delegates.  When users are deleted, their delegate or send on behalf attributes are not deleted with them.

This problem has been around since Exchange 5.5 and possibly before and it’s REALLY annoying.  Microsoft has a hotfix available for Exchange 2003…but the problem is, you have to know WHICH mailboxes the fix needs to be run on.  Top that off with my environment actually being Exchange 2007 and NOT 2003 and one might discover an even larger problem.

Let’s backtrack and define the problem with a little story:

Say you work for Acme Corp which has 1500 employees in a single forest environment running Exchange 2007.  John Smith, an employee of 10 years at your corporation has left for greener pastures over at Emca Corp.  John was a delegate with send rights on Frank Doe’s mailbox as he was Frank Doe executive assistant for almost all of those years.

When HR notified your Active Directory administrator that John Smith had left, they promptly disabled and later deleted the user…this may have happened while you were still using Exchange 2003.

Now you have a problem…John Smith has left the company and was a delegate on Frank Doe’s mailbox.  When someone sends an invitation to a meeting with Frank Doe or mail to a group that Frank Doe is a part of…they may get an Non Delivery Notice (NDR) similar to the following:

Smith, John
The recipient’s e-mail address was not found in the recipient’s e-mail system. Microsoft Exchange will not try to redeliver this message for you. Please check the e-mail address and try resending this message, or provide the following diagnostic text to your system administrator.

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Sent by Microsoft Exchange Server 2007

This glitch is EXCELLENT for annoying users everywhere!  It’s also a potential problem as someone could mass email Frank Doe and potential generate a NDR in addition to each email they send.  If they were to identify a few more people who may have had this problem, the possibility of having twice the amount of email generated and thus, twice the amount of email traffic, is something that large corporations may not want to have in their existing Exchange environments.

Microsoft realized that they had a problem on their hands and released a fix that you apply to mailboxes that suffer from the ‘ghost delegate’ “feature”.  Great right?  This fix is of course for Exchange 2003…so if you’re using that, you’re set.  You still will need to know a major detail before proceeding though:

  1. How many mailboxes have this problem? (usual response)

Therein lies the major problem.  How do you identify which mailboxes have old ghost delegate cruft still floating around generating NDR’s all over the place?  Especially in smaller environments where EVERYONE was a delegate of everyone else?

It’s impossible.

You can try to identify which mailbox has the problem but you would have to use the process of elimination…not a very time saving process and definitely not something I want to do (imagine visiting 50+ users!).  Instead,  I elected to identify all current users with delegates on their mailbox because chances are that the ghost delegate was once a delegate of these identified users.  I plan on cross referencing these users with a distribution list that is generating the NDR to properly identify the problem.  So, onward with how to identify the potential problem with a powershell query.

Identifying Problem Mailboxes with Powershell

Search the web, I’ve found many different ‘solutions’ to this problem with none of them getting things exactly how I needed them to be.  Some of the solutions would run a query and return information that was valuable…but not valuable enough.  Other queries should have worked but didn’t.

I’m by no means a powershell expert so I’m absolutely sure this little scriptlet can be improved.  It does the job though by returning anyone who has a delegate and listing who each delegate is.  So without further fanfare, the powershell command:

Get-Mailbox -resultsize unlimited | Where {$_.GrantSendOnBehalfTo -ne $null} | select Name, @{Name='GrantSendOnBehalfTo';Expression={[string]::join(";", ($_.GrantSendOnBehalfTo))}} | Export-CSV C:\SendOnBehalfTo.csv -noTypeInformation

Let’s break this command down.  The first portion Get-Mailbox -resultsize unlimited retrieves all user mailboxes and doesn’t limit to 1000 as is default with Exchange 2007.  We pipe this command into the next one with the ‘|’ symbol.  Here we use a conditional Where and select the attribute GrantSendOnBehalfTo returning only mailboxes from the first part of the command where said attribute is NOT null or empty.

Next, out of these mailboxes that don’t have the GrantSendOnBehalfTo attribute as empty, we select the Name of the user.  Now we should be able to stop here, however, we’re working with a string attribute here and returning Name will return a Multivalued property instead of the proper DN or user name we’re looking for (something like this Microsoft.Exchange.Data.MultiValuedProperty`1[Microsoft.Exchange.Data.Directory.ADObjectId] ).  To get what we need, we have to join the Multivalued property (string) with the results from the first half of the query.  To do this we create a commandlet and use the join command to bind the first part of our command to the multivalued property and translate that property into something readable for us.

It’s in the string conversion section that most people get frustrated with.  I know I got frustrated with it and used a portion of a commandlet for allowing a user or group to only accept messages from certain mailboxes…I just adapted that string conversion and join for my own purposes.  Like I said, I’m not extremely fluent in the ways of the powershell script…I just know that adapting it worked.

Identifying the Problem Mailboxes with Active Directory Queries

Of course, after spending 6-8 hours constructing my query in powershell I found a simple little tool from Joeware.net called “ADFind” that allowed me to execute a simple AD query and output all of the same information into a much more readable format than my powershell command.  If you’d like to do the same thing, head over to the ADFind page, enter your email and download the tool.  Extract it to your desktop and then open a command prompt and change directory to your desktop.  Next, enter a proper AD query with the adfind.exe prepended:

AdFind.exe -default -f "&((homeMDB=*)(publicdelegates=*))" publicdelegates > C:\delegates.txt

The output from Joe’s tool is MUCH nicer than what I was able to accomplish using powershell.  I’m sure someone will be able to take what I did with powershell and improve on it…but when there are handy tools like joeware provides, what need is there?

Implementing the Microsoft Fix

The ‘official’ fix from Microsoft is to install a hotfix if you’re running Exchange 2003.  Supposedly, Exchange 2007 doesn’t suffer from this problem…but there is a caveat there.  If, like me, you’ve upgraded from an Exchange 2003 environment that suffered from this problem…you migrate the problems with it!  So, I have an Exchange 2007 environment suffering from ghost delegates and NDR’s.

How to remedy this?  There are 3 directions provided.  The first from Microsoft is to go inside the tools >> options menu in Outlook and delete the delegate.  The problem with ghost delegates is that they aren’t there…which renders this fix completely useless.  The second solution is to launch Outlook with the /cleanrules switch.  The third solution out there is to use the MFCMapi Editor on the user mailbox that has the problem, find the hidden bits, and delete them.  The problem with this solution is most people AREN’T comfortable with editing the profile inside a snap-in…it’s much like using ADSIEdit to edit AD manually and can be overwhelming.

Examining the 3 options, it’s obvious that /cleanrules switch is probably the easiest to implement.  The problem is that it will delete ALL rules from the mailbox and if you have users who have been around for quite some time it means tons of rules.  The other problem is that it has to be run manually on EACH mailbox.  This of course is bad if you have an elaborate delegate system.

When we identified who has delegates with our queries above, we most likely found a culprit for who is having the problem and generating the NDR.  For me it was rather easy because I cross referenced my list of those with delegates with a distribution list.  When one of the unit secretaries sent email to this distribution group, it would also generate the dreaded NDR.  This means that a member of the distribution group has a ghost delegate.  Cross referencing gave me a list of 6 people to run the /cleanrules switch on versus the over 50 delegate mailboxes from the queries above…a much smaller number to visit.

I hope my confusing process can help someone out there and please improve on anything you see here…as I said, I’m by no means an expert…I just like to document my learning process to help others and also to remind myself of the fixes I find 🙂  Thanks for reading!

Fowler, Carol
The recipient’s e-mail address was not found in the recipient’s e-mail system. Microsoft Exchange will not try to redeliver this message for you. Please check the e-mail address and try resending this message, or provide the following diagnostic text to your system administrator.

 

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Sent by Microsoft Exchange Server 2007