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Recreating IIS virtual directories for OWA, OMA and Exchange ActiveSync

Exchange Server 2003 uses virtual directories in Internet Information Services (IIS) for a number of Microsoft Exchange services -- mainly, Outlook Web Access (OWA), Outlook Mobile Access (OMA) and Exchange ActiveSync. Learn three different ways you can recreate these IIS virtual directories if they become damaged or corrupted.

Exchange Server 2003 uses virtual directories in Internet Information Services (IIS) for a number of Microsoft...

Exchange services -- mainly, Outlook Web Access (OWA), Outlook Mobile Access (OMA) and Exchange ActiveSync:

  • Exadmin
  • Exchange
  • ExchWeb
  • Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync
  • OMA
  • Public

IIS virtual directories can get damaged or changed inappropriately. For instance, an inexperienced Exchange Server administrator may try changing them directly in the IIS administration console, when they actually must be changed in Exchange System Manager.

IIS virtual directories are not recreated automatically if they are damaged, so you need to know how to recreate them. They can be remade in a "semi-automatic" way, but Exchange Server has to be specifically commanded to do so; it doesn't "sense" that the directories are damaged or missing.

Microsoft Knowledge Base article 883380 walks through three possible ways to recreate IIS virtual directories for Outlook Web Access, Outlook Mobile Access and Exchange ActiveSync:

  1. Use the Metabase Explorer utility (available as part of the IIS 6 Resource Kit Tools) to remove the metabase entries for the IIS virtual directories. If you don't already have the Metabase Explorer installed or don't know how to use it, this is probably not the best way to go.

  2. Use the ADSUTIL.VBS script. This is probably the easiest method, because you can simply delete the IIS virtual directories from IIS Manager, use the script to purge the metabase (rather than trying to do that by hand), and then have Exchange Server recreate the directories. It's pretty foolproof, since you only need to know how to use the IIS Manager and run a .VBS script from a command line.

  3. Edit the Metabase.xml file by hand. This is probably the most dangerous and difficult way to do it, and is recommended only for experts who really know what they're doing.

In some cases the directories may take up to 15 minutes to automatically recreate; if that doesn't happen, the Exchange server and IIS server machines should both be restarted (IIS first, then Exchange Server).

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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Related information from

  • Step-by-Step Guide: How to repair Exchange-related IIS virtual directories
  • Tip: Disappearing OWA and Exchange Server virtual directory settings
  • Tip: Forms-based authentication errors with OMA and ActiveSync
  • Tip: Exchange Server diagnostics -- digging into IIS logs
  • Reference Center: Exchange Server mobile and wireless administration tips

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