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Troubleshoot IIS metabase corruption in Outlook Web Access

IIS metabase corruption can cause Outlook Web Access (OWA logon issues. In this tip from Microsoft Exchange Server expert Brien Posey, you'll learn how to clean up IIS metabase corruption to fix OWA logon problems.

Outlook Web Access logon issues can occur for several reasons, including IIS metabase corruption. In this tip, Microsoft Exchange Server expert Brien Posey explains how OWA uses the IIS metabase and outlines the steps to fix an IIS metabase corruption that's causing OWA login problems.

OWA depends on the Internet Information Server, which uses the IIS metabase as an internal database. IIS metabase corruption can also cause OWA logon issues; however, it can be difficult to troubleshoot since symptoms vary depending on the nature and extent of the corruption. Metabase corruption, for instance, can cause simple logon failures to a total breakdown of hosted sites on the server. In one situation, IIS metabase corruption prevented any of OWA's image files from displaying correctly.

Whether you're trying to access OWA from inside or outside your network perimeter, IIS metabase corruption problems manifest themselves in the same way. The method to fix the problem, however, varies, depending on which versions of IIS and Exchange you're using. No matter what, you want to back up your OWA server before you attempting any of the following methods.

More OWA resources:
How to improve Outlook Web Access (OWA) security

Create a secure Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA) redirect page 

Customize OWA authentication logon in Exchange 2003

If you're using IIS 6 and Exchange 2003, shut down all Exchange-related services on the OWA server. Next, open the IIS Manager and delete the following directories:

  • Exadmin
  • Exchange
  • Exchweb
  • Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync
  • OMA
  • Public virtual directories

Now it's time to fix the IIS metabase. To do so, follow these steps.

  1. Download the IIS Resource Kit and open the IIS Metabase Explorer tool.

  3. When Metabase Explorer opens, navigate through the console tree to your server | LM | DS2MB.

  5. Right-click on the DS2MB folder and select the Delete command from the menu. Then close Metabase Explorer.

  7. Reboot Exchange Server. When you do, the System Attendant Service will automatically regenerate the Exchange virtual directories that you deleted earlier.

  9. Verify that the proper authentication types have been set on the ExchWeb virtual directory by opening IIS Manager and navigating through the console tree to Web Sites | Default Web Site | ExchWeb. Right-click on the ExchWeb virtual directory and select the Directory Security tab from the properties sheet.

    Note: In some cases, the SSL certificate may need to be reassigned to the Default Web Site.


  11. You'll have to enable anonymous access and integrated Windows authentication.

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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