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I help run three businesses, and we use two Exchange servers (Windows SBS) for basic email and file sharing. These seem to take up a lot of admin time when contrasted with the linux file server we have, which basically "just works". Is this because I'm inefficient, or because Windows SBS inherently requires a lot of admin time?

I'd estimate I spend two man-weeks per year, per server to admin these boxes, and we have fairly minimal requirements - around 20 staff in total. Based only on the time I spend, the 20 workers, and the two servers, is this 160 man hours per annum a reasonable amount of time?

I do all the admin such as adding and removing maybe 4 users per year, emptying out log files clogging the server, installing updates, resetting passwords when needed, setting up spf/dkim/transport, spam filtering etc rules. 90% of it is down to email/exchange admin.

  • I'm voting to close this question, because it is primarily opinion based. I do however have an opinion of my own. And it is that you don't have enough information here. Take it apart in smaller chunks, estimate time for adding new mailboxes, for patching and regular updates, for backups and backup testing. Maybe add time for documenting and automating improvements. – Reaces Sep 30 '16 at 11:05
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    @Reaces I think it's entirely reasonable to make a judgement what a standard workload is for a small office of 20 people doing office-based work, and to use experience of how long those basic tasks should take, to answer this. It's also a useful question for IT admins in small businesses for whom IT is only a part of their job, so they can assess whether they are efficient or whether they might be better served getting pro's to do the work for them. – samerivertwice Sep 30 '16 at 12:00
  • I agree it's a useful question, it just doesn't fit ServerFault at all in my opinion. Your question is "is it reasonable that I will take x amount of time to do x". And I don't think using ewwhite as an example for the time it will take a business owner to manage his own exchange servers is at all representative. Now if you were to put this question on reddit's sysadmin board or a similar place, it would be a much better fit. – Reaces Sep 30 '16 at 12:16
  • Just to clarify again, I'm not at all saying your question isn't a valid question out of the box. I'm simply stating if we apply the on topic requirements to it (namely the first line) You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. then your question is off topic :) – Reaces Sep 30 '16 at 12:19
  • It is a good question, but you should add some details: how are the workloads of mail vs. files comparable? How do the expectations of the companies (some people can be picky, others are fine with whatever you propose)? Is all management (even little things that can add up over time) on you or is it partial, like in ewwhite's answer? – user121391 Sep 30 '16 at 14:34
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A data point.

I manage about 24 Exchange servers for customers now, and spend about 2 hours per month on mail-related issues which may include SSL certificates, user management, managing the Barracuda cloud spam filtering and disk space/backup maintenance.

Exchange is pretty hands-off for me post-install, however, the ramp up to installation/deployment is very time consuming.

These are all simple single-server Exchange environments with 250 users or less.

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    Ok thanks. Sounds like you're about 5 times as efficient as me then. So I might be better getting a pro to do it and focusing on running the business. – samerivertwice Sep 30 '16 at 12:02
  • I've done over 100 Exchange installs over the years, but chances are that I'm not doing much proactively. I bet basic quotas and delegate permissions to do the routine tasks to a power-user at the customer site. Maybe once or twice a year, I'll use some Powershell to get usage stats or set retention policy. Sometimes companies merge or change ownership and address policy needs to change. Add in service packs and updates 2x per year. Also time consuming. – ewwhite Sep 30 '16 at 12:05
  • Does this include windows patching? Do you test the patches / service packs for each of the 24 exchange servers individually or do you test it once and then apply it to each of your customers? I'm really quite curious what the process is behind this :) I haven't actually done exchange management myself, but I've seen quotes for two different business and their hours were way higher than yours. (about 3-4x as much) – Reaces Sep 30 '16 at 12:25
  • I'm a Linux and VMware guy who happens to run mail servers. No real method other than patching 1x/2x a year. Normal MS updates go in quarterly. – ewwhite Sep 30 '16 at 12:27

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