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Detecting update rollup and patch failures in OWA

A patch does not have to be buggy to cause Outlook Web Access (OWA) problems. In this tip, Microsoft Exchange Server expert Brien Posey explains how a simple update rollup can cause OWA failures and signs to look for to spot these problems.

There are countless issues that can cause Outlook Web Access (OWA) to fail. In this tip, Microsoft Exchange Server expert Brien Posey explains why installing update rollups can cause OWA to fail, how to spot potential problems and more.

It's not uncommon for update rollups to cause Outlook Web Access problems, particularly Update Rollup 2 for Exchange 2007. But problems aren't exclusive to this patch; there are several reasons why an update rollup can cause OWA to fail.

The most common cause of an update-related OWA failure is when an update fails to install properly or completely. Although such a failure may seem easy to spot, this may not be the case since an Exchange administrator rarely installs individual patches manually.

Generally, an update service pushes patches to Exchange Server and installs them automatically. Therefore, there typically isn't an obvious error message on the server console screen that alerts an administrator.

Luckily, there are a couple warning signs of imminent failures.

First, if Exchange-related services are suddenly disabled, this usual indicates that a patch did not install correctly.

Another warning sign would be if you received entries for any of the following Event IDs related to Exchange Server 2007.

  • Event ID 11306: Another application has exclusive access to the file, "PathOfFile."

  • Event ID 1023: Update rollup could not be installed.

  • Event ID 11729: Configuration failed in the server's Application log.

Any of these event log entries could potentially indicate a patch problem, but Event ID 1023 is usually the main Event ID that you should watch for.

There are also two conditions that can cause an OWA update to fail.

  • An update rollup will fail to install if any of the files being updated are in use. You can shut down all Exchange-related services prior to installing an update to ensure that no files are in use. However, shutting down services isn't always an option for most organizations.
  • I recommend applying update rollups during company downtimes. If something goes wrong and an update fails, you can stop the services and try again.

  • The absence of the ExchangeSetupLogs folder can also cause an update to fail. When you initially install Exchange 2007, Setup will create a folder named ExchangeSetupLogs on the system volume, which contains the Windows OS. Some administrators assume that this folder contains garbage remaining after the installation process and attempt to delete it or move it to a different location. However, update rollups depend on this folder being in its original location. If the folder has been moved or deleted, you must restore it to its original location before installing update rollups.

More OWA resources:
Top 5 Outlook Web Access (OWA) tips of 2008

How to improve Outlook Web Access (OWA) security

Customizing Outlook Web Access (OWA) in Exchange Server 2007

When installing an update rollup for Exchange, the update will create a brand new folder for the OWA files. While this failure is less catastrophic than those described previously, it can be a problem if you've customized OWA . Customizations are generally lost during the update process.

The way around this issue is to create a backup of your customizations before applying the update rollup. Then reapply your customizations once the update has completed.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at

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