What is Exchange Message Tracking?

Exchange Message tracking is a powerful feature that allows administrators to trace emails as they navigate through various components of the Exchange infrastructure. While you can employ the Exchange Management Console (EMC) for message tracking, using the Exchange Management Shell proves to be a more efficient and reliable method.

Leveraging the Exchange Management Shell for Exchange Message Tracking

A set of specialised commands is at your disposal to initiate message tracking from the Exchange Management Shell. These commands allow you to monitor a message’s journey from the mailbox servers to the edge servers. To apply these commands to the edge server, simply execute the same set in the Exchange Shell on that server. Although the Exchange Graphical User Interface (GUI) offers some message tracking options, many users find it cumbersome and inconsistent compared to the shell.

Here’s a sample command to fetch a list of messages from a specific sender:

Get-MessageTrackingLog -Sender [email protected] | select MessageID,timestamp,EventID,Source,Sender,Recipients,MessageSubject | Sort-Object TimeStamp | ft -autosize

Fine-Tuning Shell Output

If you encounter issues with the output table formatting, adjusting the shell window buffer is recommended. To do this, right-click on the shell toolbar, navigate to ‘Properties’, go to ‘Layout’, and modify the ‘Screen Buffer Size’ width to 500.
Tracking Messages Over a Time Range

Adding a date parameter can extend the tracking capabilities, allowing you to fetch the history of received messages for a specific sender over a set period. This is especially useful for mailboxes that handle batch jobs and consequently have a large volume of messages. Below is a command to view messages from the last three days:

Get-MessageTrackingLog -Sender [email protected] -start (get-date).adddays(-3) | select MessageID,timestamp,EventID,Source,Sender,Recipients,MessageSubject | Sort-Object TimeStamp | ft -autosize

Identifying and Locating Messages

Once you’ve pinpointed a message you’d like to track further, the MessageID can be used to filter the search. Replace the -Sender [email protected] section with -MessageID message-id.

On edge servers, this typically yields just a few tracking instances, such as “Receive” to Edge and “Send” to the next hop, be it a mailbox server or an external smart host. In contrast, mailbox servers will display multiple tracking instances that can include terms like ‘receive,’ ‘send,’ ‘storedriver,’ ‘transport,’ ‘mailbox,’ and ‘deliver.’ The range and types of these instances will differ based on the mailbox location.

Cross-Platform Exchange Message Tracking

It’s worth noting that the MessageID is not exclusive to the Exchange environment and can be utilized in external systems like Symantec.Cloud to identify specific messages.

In summary, Exchange message tracking is an invaluable tool for system administrators, providing a deep level of oversight into the lifecycle of emails as they move through the Exchange infrastructure. Utilizing the Exchange Management Shell for this purpose offers both reliability and robustness, making it the preferred option for most professionals.

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Richard Bailey, a seasoned tech enthusiast, combines a passion for innovation with a knack for simplifying complex concepts. With over a decade in the industry, he's pioneered transformative solutions, blending creativity with technical prowess. An avid writer, Richard's articles resonate with readers, offering insightful perspectives that bridge the gap between technology and everyday life. His commitment to excellence and tireless pursuit of knowledge continues to inspire and shape the tech landscape.

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