Microsoft Exchange Monitoring – Important Performance Counters

clip_image001In a previous article we discussed monitoring Exchange Server with Monitis and provided a custom monitor written in PowerShell.

In this article we’ll go over the available and relevant metrics for Exchange Server 2003. We’ve categorized the performance counters in the following groups:

1. Exchange Message Counters

2. Exchange Services Counters

3. Memory Monitoring

4. Network Monitoring

The Message and Service counters are the ones we’ll discuss in this article. Memory and Network monitoring will be covered in a follow-up article.

Exchange Message Counters

Deferred Delivery Msgs: Indicates the number of messages with a deferred delivery date in the future which are held in the channel queue until they either expire or are returned, or the deferred delivery date is reached.

Inbound Messages Total: Indicates the total number of messages received from an external source that are waiting to be converted to Exchange format.

Message Bytes Per Sec: Indicates the number of message bytes being processed by the MTA every second.

Messages Per Sec: Indicates the number of messages being processed per second.

Outbound Bytes Total: Shows the total number of bytes sent by the server.

Outbound Messages Total: Shows the total number of outbound messages sent.


Total Loops Detected: Indicates the number of message loops detected. The system automatically creates a message queue for each thread. If the thread creates one or more windows, a message loop must be provided; this message loop retrieves messages from the thread’s message queue and dispatches them to the appropriate window procedures.

Total Recipients Inbound: Shows the total number of recipients per inbound message received.

Total Recipients Outbound: Shows the total number of recipients per outbound messages sent.

Total Recipients Queued: Indicates the total number of message transfer agent (MTA) recipients queued.

Work Queue Length: The maximum number of recipients permitted in the MTA inbound and outbound queues for the information store, the Directory, and any connectors.

Work Queue Bytes: Shows the total volume of message content in bytes currently stored in the

message transfer agent (MTA)


Exchange Services Counters

The Exchange Service Counters relate to metrics for the Information Store, Exchange Management, MTA Stacks, POP3, SMTP, Routing Engine, Site Replication, and the Exchange System Attendant. These counters are discussed below:

Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange Information Store: This reflects the state of the information store service. The Information Store is the most critical component of Exchange Server 2000/2003; it is the core data storage repository for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and contains both the mailbox store(s) and public folder store. The Microsoft Exchange Information Store service uses a transaction-based database technology called Extensible Storage Engine (ESE). The responsibilities of the Exchange store also include public folder replication.


Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange Management: This reflects the state of the Exchange management information using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). If this service is stopped, WMI providers implemented to work in Microsoft Exchange Management, such as message tracking and Active Directory access, will not work.


Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange MTA Stacks: Reflects the state of the MTS stacks service. The Message Transfer Agent (MTA) Stacks service in Microsoft Exchange 2000 and 2003 Server is frequently used to provide backward-compatible message transfer services between an Exchange 2000/2003 server and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 servers in a mixed-mode environment.


Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange POP3: Reflects the state of the POP3 service in Exchange. POP3 is the Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) service. POP3 is a fairly simple and limited protocol. It has a set of approximately 11 commands, 10 of which are supported by Microsoft

Exchange Server. After you have installed Exchange Server, the POP3 service is not automatically started. You can use the Services snap-in in Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or the Exchange Management Shell to set the POP3 service to start automatically.

Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange Routing Engine: Reflects the state of the routing engine service. The Routing Engine service provides topology and routing information to servers running Exchange Server 2003. The advanced queuing engine within the SMTP transport subsystem uses this service to provide next-hop information when routing messages within the Exchange organisation. If this service is stopped, messages will not be delivered.

Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange Site Replication: Reflects the state of the site replication service. The Site Replication Service (SRS) provides directory integration between Exchange Server 5.5 and Exchange Server 2003. SRS runs on Exchange Server 2003 and serves as a modified Exchange Server 5.5 directory. Exchange server 5.5 responds to SRS as another Exchange Server 5.5 directory replication partner. SRS is automatically enabled on the first server that joins an Exchange Server 5.5 site.

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Service Operating State Microsoft Exchange System Attendant: Reflects the status of the Exchange System Attendant service which is primarily a collection of subcomponents that work together to proxy Active Directory requests and to regulate internal Exchange Server functions. It is critical to Exchange Server’s performance, since many Exchange-related services will not function without it.

Service Operating State Simple Mail Transfer Protocol SMTP: Reflects that state of the SMTP service. The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) service, which transfers e-mail, is installed as part of Email Services, along with the POP3 service.

That’s it for the Message and Service performance counters. In our next article we’ll discuss Memory and Network monitoring for Exchange Server 2003.

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