Exchange 2013 Best Practices Analyzer (BETA)

For those of you old school Exchange Admins, you’ll remember that the Best Practices Analyzer has been around for a long time. It’s been around so long that most admins today can’t remember a time when it wasn’t readily available. Until now.

As has been stated in many blogs (mine included), Microsoft removed the tool from their newest flagship messaging product, Exchange Server 2013. Why this was done is a mystery to me, although I would hazard a guess that this is another move to push customers to cloud services…

Microsoft announced, quietly, that there was a new version of their tool. It’s Beta still. It’s available for download. However, and this is a big however, you need to have an Office 365 account in order to download this. I find this to be very short-sighted on the part of Microsoft. Administrators need tools to help them gauge the health of their environments. These tools should always be included in the release of a product, not a download that is available only if you have an account with Office 365.

Best Practices Analyzer BETA

We wanted to let you know that we have released a Beta version of Microsoft Office 365 Best Practices Analyzer for Exchange Server 2013. You can download the bits and read more about the release here. While this Beta has been available for a little while, we have been updating the build once a month with more improvements.
A couple of notes on this release:

• This is a Beta (pre-release) release; we plan to make changes to the tool look and feel, as well as add many additional rules to the tool.
• In order to download the tool, you will need an Office 365 tenant or Azure Active Directory user id. This is because in the future, we plan to include some value-add features that will enable you to store some information in our service (for example, we could enable the running history of BPA reports etc.) Note though that even though login to Azure Active Directory is required to download the tool, you do not need to have an Office 365 tenant to use it. This release can be used by customers who have:

○ Exchange Server 2013 on-premises only
○ Exchange Server 2013 hybrid configuration
○ Office 365 customers who leverage Exchange Online exclusively

• For versions of Exchange earlier than Exchange 2013, please use the already released version of BPA.

We’d like to hear your feedback on this release. You are welcome to post comments here, but if you have specific BPA feedback, we’d like to get an email from you so we can get all the details we might need.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s join our regularly scheduled blog entry.

To get the new Beta Best Practices Analyzer for your On Premise Exchange environment log into you Office 365 tenant. Click on Tools on the bottom left.


Once you click on that you will see on the right a link that says “Check your on-premises Exchange Server with the Office 365 Best Practices Analyzer (beta)”. Click on that and there will be a series of prereq software that will need to be installed before you can use the new tool.

First prereq to install is .NET Framework 4.5 (Windows 2008 R2) or .NET Framework 3.5 (Windows 2012). The below example is from a Windows 2008 R2 server. If both of these were installed previously, then the installer will skip this step. Once .NET is installed, you will need to reboot your server. Before .NET installs we need to agree to three license agreements. One for .NET:
Next is the legal agreement for Single Sign On Assistant.
Finally we need to agree to the Azure AD Module for Windows license agreement.
Then .NET gets installed:
And then reboot:
After the reboot, go back to the Microsoft Portal, Tools and click on the same link for the On Premises Best Practices Analyzer.

Click Install:
Wait for the initial install to complete:
Click ‘Accept’ for the licensing agreement:
Click ‘Next’ at the Welcome screen:
Click ‘Start Scan’:
Wait for the scan to complete:
If you get a prompt for Office 365 credentials, you can click Cancel as we are scanning the local server:
Once this completes a results screen comes up:
If you click ‘Save Results’ you can save your report for later review. The file can only be saved in HTML file format:
If you click on ‘View Details’ you get an itemized list of all issues found in order of severity (red – error, yellow – warning, blue – informational, and green – passed)

I hope Microsoft releases a non-online version of this tool for those with on-premise deployments only. The online tenant requirement will be a hurdle for some companies. Until then you’ll have to find someone with a tenant so they can loan you their credentials in order to download this useful tool.


6 thoughts on “Exchange 2013 Best Practices Analyzer (BETA)

  1. You actually don’t need a full tenant. You can get a trial free account by signing up for the trial… Without any obligation

    • Agreed. But you still must sign up for something that was available without a login. It’s more of a hassle then anything else because if I have just the install file itself, I don’t need to the login. Hence the login itself serves no valid purpose at this time.

    • Absolutely. It’s quite a conversation with clients when you mention a tool that, published by Microsoft around a year or more ago, is still listed as BETA. A more prudent approach would have been to make some small tweaks and call it 1.0. The other onerous part is that the BPA now requires external software to run. This is a markedly different approach to all previous versions of the tool. Best you can do is give them feedback on their download page. They do monitor these comments. How quickly they act is a different matter.

  2. Pingback: Turning to a PAL when troubleshooting Exchange… |

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