Speeding Reboot When Exchange is on a DC/GC

As I’ve noted in several previous blog entries (such as here and here), installing Exchange on a domain controller and/or a global catalog server is not a best practice. However, if you are running SBS (Small Business Server) or EBS (Essential Business Server) or if you only have a single server in your environment – you may not/don’t have much choice.

Given that you or your company may have no choice in the decision, it still may come as a disappointment (disgust?) that it takes so long to reboot your Exchange server.

This typically happens because of two primary reasons:

  • When Exchange is installed on a DC/GC, that Exchange server will refer to no other DC/GCs in the Active Directory, and
  • When a shutdown or reboot request is received, it isn’t possible for Exchange to terminate prior to Active Directory shutting down.

Now, you may think “poor poor Exchange, do what _I_ want anyway!” Well, in Exchange’s defense, that may be harder than you think. Consider a common scenario that may occur:

  • A VSS backup is running against your server and it’s just entered the Freeze stage against all writers
  • Exchange is running
  • RPC/HTTP is up
  • OWA is up
  • SQL is running\
  • …a shutdown request comes in

What is the right order to shut things down in that ensure everything gets shut down before AD starts shutting down?

The answer is – can’t be done!

Exchange and Active Directory have no mechanism for terminating the right things in the right order. So, it is up to a human brain to help them out.

I suggest you create a directory on your combination Exchange / Active Directory server named c:\scripts. Within that directory, create a file named shutdown.cmd. In that file, place the following commands:

echo %DATE% %TIME% Shutting Down Services >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt
net stop msexchangeadtopology /y
echo %DATE% %TIME% Shut Down MSExchangeADTopology >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt
net stop msftesql-exchange /y
echo %DATE% %TIME% Shut Down MSFteSQL-Exchange >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt
net stop msexchangeis /y
echo %DATE% %TIME% Shut Down MSExchangeIS >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt
net stop msexchangesa /y
echo %DATE% %TIME% Shut down MSExchangeSA >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt
net stop iisadmin /y
echo %DATE% %TIME% Shut down IISAdmin >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt
echo %DATE% %TIME% Shut down services script complete >>c:\scripts\shutdown.txt

Note that the echo statements are completely optional. They are simply present to allow you to record the sequence of events that does occur during a shutdown.

Once you have created this file, open Administrative Tools -> Group Policy Management.

Expand the domains node, then expand the node for your domain, and then expand the Group Policy Objects node.

Under the GPO node, right click on the Default Domain Controllers Policy and select Edit…

Expand Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Windows Settings and then click on Scripts.

In the right pane, double click on Shutdown, then click on Add in the dialog that opens. Browse to the shutdown.cmd that you created earlier and click OK.

Now, click OK until you are back to the group policy main window and close it and then close the Group Policy Management window.

If you have a single DC, you are done. Otherwise, wait for 15-20 minutes to allow your modified group policy to replicate to other DCs in your Active Directory.

Now, each time your DC that has Exchange Server installed on it reboots (or shuts down), it will execute the above script. This will reduce the required reboot time 50% – 75%.


Until next time…

If there are things you would like to see written about, please let me know.

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