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Exchange Mailbag: Addressing Exchange 2010 Global Address List issues

The Global Address List is one of the most integral parts of Exchange 2010, but also one of the most misunderstood. Get answers to common GAL problems in the latest edition of our expert mailbag.

I write so much about Exchange Server, and therefore get a lot of email from admins who want answers to their Exchange-related questions. Many of those questions pertain to the Exchange 2010 Global Address List. 

While the Global Address List is one of the key components in Exchange Server, it’s also one of the most commonly misunderstood. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked GAL-related questions.

My global address list won’t update when I add new mailboxes to the server, what’s the problem?

This is a fairly common problem. The first thing you should do it update the global address list (GAL) manually. Open the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) and enter the following command:

Update-GlobalAddressList –Identity “<the name of your global address list>”

The identity of your global address list is a required parameter in the command listed above. You can express the GAL’s identity by providing its common name (CN), distinguished name (DN) or its GUID.

If entering the command doesn’t solve the problem, then open the Service Control Manager on your Exchange server and restart the Microsoft Exchange System Attendant service. If this doesn’t help, then you may have a problem with the OAB virtual directory on your client access server (CAS).

Why can’t my Outlook 2003 clients use the Exchange 2010 Offline Address Book?

Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange 2010 both use Web-based distribution for the Offline Address Book (OAB). When Outlook 2003 was created, address book distribution was based on public folders. You must enable public folder distribution for your Outlook 2003 clients to access the OAB.

However, before enabling public folder distribution on your Outlook 2003 clients, you must do two things:

  1. Make sure that your Outlook 2003 clients are running Microsoft Office 2003 SP2 or higher.
  2. Create a public folder database on one of your mailbox servers. If this type of database doesn’t exist, the configuration process will fail.

Open the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) and select Organization Configuration -> Mailbox. Next, click the Offline Address Book tab and select which offline address book that will be available to Outlook 2003 clients. Right-click the address book and select the Properties command to reveal the address book’s properties sheet.

When the properties sheet appears, select the Distribution tab, then verify that the Outlook 2003 SP2 check box is selected. Next, select the Enable Public Folder Distribution check box and click OK.

I’ve got serious OAB virtual directory problems, what’s the best way to fix them?

 Repairing the OAB virtual directory is a risky procedure because you must completely delete your existing virtual directory before beginning the repair process. Therefore, make sure to back up your CAS before getting started.

After creating your backup, export the OAB virtual directory’s settings. For the default OAB virtual directory, this is accomplished by opening the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) on your CAS and entering the following command:

Get-OABVirtualDirectory –Identity “OAB (Default Web Site)” | format-List | Out-File –FilePath “C:\OAB_DefWS_Settings.txt”

After creating the file, open it and document the settings for the following: PollInterval, OfflineAddressBooks, RequireSSL, Path, InternalURL and ExternalURL.

Next, delete the malfunctioning virtual directory. To do so, enter the following command:

Remove-OABVirtualDirectory –Identity “OAB (Default Web Site)”

After removing the the offending OAB virtual directory, it’s time to create a new one. Enter the following command:

New-OABVirtualDirectory –DomainController <your domain controller’s FQDN> -ExternalURL <value> -InternalURL <value> -Path <value> -PollInterval <value> -RequireSSL $True

Note: In the command shown above, replace <value> with the values you recorded earlier. The internal and external URLs must be enclosed in quotation marks.

Next, you must reattach your address lists. These are the address lists that correspond to the OfflineAddressBooks parameter you documented earlier. You can reattach the address books by opening the ECP and navigating to Organization Configuration -> Mailbox.

Next, click on the Offline Address Book tab and select the offline address book that you’d like Outlook to access. Right-click on this address book and select the Properties command to reveal the address book’s properties sheet.

When the properties sheet appears, select the Address Lists tab and specify the address lists you’d like to include. Click OK to complete the process.

If OAB distribution still doesn’t work, you may need to reset Internet Information Services (IIS). Resetting IIS cause services like ActiveSync, OWA and Outlook Anywhere to be interrupted, but the process normally only takes a few seconds to complete. Reset IIS by opening an elevated command prompt window and enter the IISRESET /NOFORCE command.

Brien Posey is an eight-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien worked as a CIO at a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

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