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Accessing a Microsoft Outlook mailbox from multiple machines

Users can access a Microsoft Outlook mailbox from multiple machines, but problems may arise if they're using different versions of the Outlook email client.

Various users can access a single mailbox from multiple machines, but problems with Microsoft Outlook rules may...

arise if they're using different versions and service pack levels of the Outlook email client. Find out why Exchange Server public folder rules may be a better option in this scenario.


Can multiple users log into the same Microsoft Outlook mailbox from different client machines, using different versions of Outlook -- not at the same time, but in turn? More to the point, is it possible to do this without damaging Microsoft Outlook or Exchange Server?

The answer is yes, but there are a few prerequisites.

Each user should use the same version and service pack level of Microsoft Outlook, as a preemptive safeguard against problems that can arise when multiple client versions are used.

Potential problems usually manifest in the form of Outlook rules. For example, if you open a mailbox using Microsoft Outlook 2003, and then open it later using Outlook 2002, there's no guarantee that the rules set on that mailbox will work.

This is further complicated by the fact that some Microsoft Outlook mailbox rules created with the Rules Wizard are run client-side and some are run server-side. An email message forwarded from an Outlook mailbox to an Exchange public folder, for instance, always runs on the Exchange server rather than the Outlook client.

More on this topic

As a best practice, you should use an Exchange public folder in this situation. Public folders behave differently from mailboxes. Some users prefer the way Outlook mailbox rules work as opposed to Exchange public folder rules, but Exchange public folders are just better designed to handle connections from multiple Outlook clients.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.

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