There’s all kinds of documentation out there about Exchange but sometimes it’s difficult to find what you’re looking for. You know what you want, you even saw/had a hardcopy once so you know it exists. Finding it, however, is the whole needle/haystack thing.
I write documentation that gets sent to what we lovingly call the “black hole of Microsoft.com” and some days it feels like I spend as much time looking for our docs as I do writing them. Often I want to know what other people have said about a topic I’m working on or I need to find some Windows docs, or I’m just trying to get my test environment working and need to find a KB that addresses the problem I’m having.
So I have an inkling into the pain you feel when you’re trying to simply FIND information you need to get your job done. First, rest assured we are painfully aware of the problem and there are people chartered with figuring out how to fix the fundamental issues there.
In the mean time, here are some hints for finding Exchange docs.
First Google is your friend. Here are three hints about finding our docs using Google.
1. Install the Google toolbar. I’m surprised at how many people take the time to type www.google.com 352 times a day. The Google toolbar takes up very little real estate, is always there, and blessedly keeps a history of your searches in a nice little drop down menu. http://toolbar.google.com/ Get it, use it, love it.
2. Use Google smartly. If you haven’t used the advanced search features on Google…For shame! It’s all pretty self explanatory. Here is the advanced search page: http://www.google.com/advanced_search
For example, when you want a KB article you pretty much only care about docs that live on support.microsoft.com. So on Google’s advanced search page, in the “Domain” field, enter support.microsoft.com. Try a search for Exchange Transaction Logs on support.microsoft.com.
3. When you use the advanced features notice the syntax Google uses so next time you can type your custom search directly into the Google toolbar and save yourself a click or two. In our example above I would have just typed the following in the Google toolbar:
exchange transaction logs site:support.microsoft.com
Now you don’t even have to waste the click to go to the advanced search page. Just type “thing I’m searching for” site:subdomain.domain.com (or whatever) directly in the Google toolbar. The subdomain(s) is/are optional.
Besides using Google, you might just want to see the docs that have come from the Exchange product group. So our library page is another good starting place for your general doc needs:
This page is largely where we deliver Exchange 2003 documentation. You can find links to Exchange 2000 and 5.5 docs on this page as well. The library page is full of guides and papers with all kinds of information. And it’s growing. Be sure to check back from time to time to see what’s been recently updated or added.
Now if I was lame and forgot to tell you how to get to our library page you’d just type
exchange library site:microsoft.com
in your Google toolbar, right? J
Hopefully these simple hints will help you find some of the information you need on Microsoft.com a little faster. Blogs, newsgroups, and sites like www.slipstick.com often will link out to our docs too. There is probably more free documentation out there than you think. Sometimes when talking to you folks (our Exchange customers) we get requests for documentation on something we already documented. Sometimes months ago! That tells us that we need to help you find the docs that are already out there as well as write new content to address issues we haven’t covered yet. As I said at the beginning we are aware of this and have some people working on a fix. For now, use Google, the library page, and the extended Exchange community.
Have your own tip for finding Exchange documentation? Let us know!