Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Configuring Outlook 2010 send/receive groups

Outlook 2010 clients do more than send and receive messages, they also download copies of the offline address book (OAB), synchronize forms, interact with SharePoint and more. All this activity can overwhelm Exchange 2010 mailbox servers.
Launch Outlook 2010 and navigate to Send/Receive tab. Its settings and options are divided into three groups; Server, Download, and Send & Receive

Send & Receive

In Send & Receive group, click Send/ Receive All Folders. It will bring up Outlook Send/Receive Progressdialog, showing the progress of sending and receiving all the folder items. If you have encountered any errors lately, switch to Errors tab to view them.

Select any folder from left sidebar, and click Update Folder from this group, it will update the selected folder by sending and receiving all the items queued in pending item list. Send All option would send all the unsent items.
Now from Send/Receive Groups options, you will see all configured accounts, through this option, you will send/receive items from them exclusively. Now click Define Send/Receive Groups.

It will bring up Send/Receive Groups dialog, here you can view all the groups and their send/receive settings. Select the desired group and click Edit to edit the group send/receive options. If you want to add a new group then simply click New, and fill in required field.
From bottom of the dialog, there is a list of send/receive options for selected group. If you want to remove any selected group from sending and receiving items, disable the first option. From Schedule an automatic send/receive, enter the desired time interval after which it will automatically schedule send/receive items.

If Outlook clients are bogging down Exchange servers, setting up send/receive groups lets you synchronize less critical data less often. To configure send/receive groups in Outlook 2010, navigate to the Send Receive tab and select Define Send/Receive Groups from the menu. Once the dialog box opens, click New

Figure 1. Use the Send/Receive Groups dialog box to create, edit and delete a new group.
Outlook will prompt you to name the new send/receive group. After you name it something descriptive, click OK to open the dialog box for this group (Figure 2).

Figure 2. You can configure send/receive options through the Send/Receive Settings dialog box.
The first option in the dialog box includes the selected account in the send/receive group. This option is disabled in the screenshot shown in Figure 2, because the default send/receive group (All Accounts) already processes the current mailbox. If you plan to use different send/receive settings for different folders, you’ll need to enable the send/receive group for those mailboxes.
This screenshot also shows mailbox, SharePoint and RSS buttons. You can set the default send/receive group to handle email and create a second send/receive group for SharePointdata. You can also set up RSS feed parameters in a third send/receive group and then bundle RSS settings into one of your other send/receive groups.
In the email account portion of the Send/Receive dialog box, you can check boxes corresponding to the folders that you want to include in your send/receive operations. For example, you can choose to only download message headers or full messages and associated attachments. You can also choose to only download headers if a message exceeds a specified size. Other boxes notify you if home pages are available offline, forms have been synchronized and if Outlook has downloaded the offline address book.
After viewing available options, click Cancel to return to the Send/Receive Groups dialog box, which displays the default group and the new send/receive group (Figure 3).

Figure 3. You can control the behavior separately for each Outlook 2010 send/receive group.
You can use the checkboxes beneath the group to control several options. For example, if you want to give your users the option to automatically process send/receive groups, you can check the box that processes them when a user presses F9. You can also control how often you want to perform an automatic send/receive for each group. Additionally, you can force or disable an automatic send/receive when a user closes Outlook.

How to use Recovery Storage in Exchange 2007

1.      The below process will demonstrate how to recover either an entire information store (in a disaster recovery situation) and how to merge an individual, or group of users email, to replace missing or corrupt items. Open the Exchange management console on the mailbox server and choose “Database Recovery Management from the “Toolbox”. 
2.      Give a name to this activity and enter the mailbox server or cluster name in the “Exchange server name (required):” field and choose next.
3.      Choose “Create a recovery storage group
4.      Choose the information store you would like to recover and choose next.
5.      Point the recovery path to your recovery storage group area (you should have a LUN reserved for this purpose) and click “Create recovery storage group”.
6.      Choose “Go back to task center” and leave this “Troubleshooting Assistant” up in the background.
7.      Here we used “NetWorker user for Exchange Server”, you can use NTBackup from Windows also for restoring the backup data. Choose the Information store you would like to recover to the recovery storage group. Start the recovery.
8.      The recovery may take a while.  The time it takes will largely depend on how large the Information store you are recovering is.  Once complete, the client will display the recovery results.  Please remember that the recovery will fail if you have not created your recovery storage group.
9.       Go back to the “Troubleshooting Assistant” and choose “Mount or dismount databases in the recovery storage group”.
10.  Check the box for the Information store and choose “Mount selected database”.
11.  Choose “Go back to task center”.
12.   If you are recovering the Information store because the original was lost or corrupt, users will now automatically be able to send and receive from the recovered location.  Please read the “Recovery of an Information store document” to continue your recovery of the store to its original location.  To recover an individual or group of users email, choose “Merge or copy mailbox contents”.
13.  Choose “Gather merge information”.
14.  Choose “Perform pre-merge tasks”
15.  Select the user(s) you would like to merge (recover corrupt or missing email) and choose “Perform merge actions”.  This will compare the users email in the information store and the data that is contained in the backup and recover any missing items. Once the merge is complete, choose “Go back to task center”
16.  Important.  You must dismount the recovery database and remove the recovered files before you will be able to make another recovery.  Choose “Mount or dismount database in the recovery storage group”.
17.   Select the Information store and choose “Dismount selected database”. Once complete, select “Go back to task center”.

18.  Choose “Remove the recovery storage group”.  On the next screen, confirm the removal.  Once this has been completed, you may close the tool and delete the recovered content for the recovery area.  NOTE: Until you remove this recovered data, you will not be able to make another recovery.

Exchange 2010 Calendar Repair


Even though we didn't see any improvement on the Calendaring side in Exchange 2003, new features have been introduced in Exchange 2007. These included the Calendar attendant, which manages scheduling events; the resource booking attendant, where you can book rooms or equipment without anyone's intervention, and the scheduling assistant, which provides guidance on scheduling meetings efficiently as well as Out Of Office messages.
In Exchange 2010, features introduced in Exchange 2007 have been improved and a feature named Calendar Repair Assistant (CRA) has been added. The interesting aspect about CRA is that, most of the time it runs without any user/administrator intervention. This simplifies collaboration within an organization.
Calendar Repair Assistant Overview
Experience teaches us that most calendar inconsistencies are encountered at the client's side. In this respect, some software applications and utilities were developed by a third party to fix and retrieve changes or deletions from the calendar folder.
In Exchange 2010, the Calendar Repair Assistant was developed to work on the mailbox server side. CRA runs within the Exchange Mailbox Assistant service and detects and fixes any discrepancies using a special algorithm for comparing the organizer's and the attendee's items respectively. Most importantly, CRA runs in silent mode on the user's outlook calendar, meaning that the user will only be notified about adjustments in his/her calendar items. CRA is configured to run by default on every mailbox but can also be disabled for specific user accounts.
In this article, we will see how to configure CRA settings and log files. We will then see the CRA's behavior toward missing calendar items.
CRA Usage
CRA can be configured to run on a specific time schedule. When CRA runs, it compares the organizer's calendar item to the attendee's calendar item by running consistency checks. If any of the organizer's/attendee's check operations fails due to inconsistencies, a fix is performed on the respective calendar item. Corrections are merged so as not to override item properties or data. An E-mail describing what was fixed is then placed in the attendee's deleted items folder.
The issues that CRA is able to correct are listed below:
  • Attendee's calendar item has the wrong time or location
  • Attendee's/organizer's item has the wrong location
  • Attendee is not on the organizer's attendees list
  • Attendee's calendar item tracking status doesn't match the organizer's tracking status
  • Attendee's recurring meeting doesn't match the organizer's recurring meeting
  • Organizer or attendee has multiple calendar meetings that appear to be the same
How to configure the server side settings for CRA
·         There are 3 parameters that has to be configured at the server level before enabling the CRA to be run on a mailbox, those are:
·         CalendarRepairIntervalEndWindow – This parameter value is for how far into the future the CRA has to look for issues in calendar items, by default the value is set to 30 days.
·         CalendarRepairMissingItemFixDisabled – Use this parameter to disable the CRA from fixing the errors, by default CRA fixes the identified inconsistencies of the items on an attendee’s calendar.
·         CalendarRepairSchedule – As name implies, this parameter tells the schedule when the CRA should run on a mailbox server. If the does not finish the processing during the windows that has been set, then it resumes the processing where it stopped in the last time. If you don't specify a schedule the CRA won't run.
When CRA runs for the first time, a Calendar Repair Assistant folder is created under the path: %SystemDrive%\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Logging\
This is used to store CRA log files.
Any changes made to the user's mailbox calendar items are logged by default to a log file. To get the CRA's log properties, run the following cmdlet: Get-MailboxServer -Identity Exchange | FL calendarRepairLog*
The output is shown below:

Figure 1.0 CRA log settings
You can configure any of the log properties shown in figure 1. For instance, the log file age limit is set by default to an unlimited number of days and the directory size limit to an unlimited storage size. If you wish to limit the age to 65 days and the directory size to 150MB, run the cmdlet: Set-MailboxServer -Identity Exchange -CalendarRepairLogFileAgeLimit 65 -CalendarRepairLogDirectorySizeLimit 150MB
By running again the Get cmdlet, you will see the new settings.

Figure 1.1 Configuring CRA log settings
As mentioned earlier, CRA can be configured to run on a specific schedule. By default, the calendar repair schedule is not configured and won't run unless a schedule is set.
To have CRA run on Thursday between 3:26 PM and 3:40 PM, run the cmdlet: Set-MailboxServer -Identity Exchange -CalendarRepairSchedule "Thursday.3:26 PM-Thursday.03:40 PM"
You can also select more than one schedule by setting multiple time ranges in a comma separated list: Set-MailboxServer -Identity Exchange -CalendarRepairSchedule "Thursday.3:26 PM-Thursday.03:40 PM", "Friday.3:26 PM- Friday.03:40 PM"
If mailbox processing is not completed within the defined schedule window, CRA pauses and resumes from the same location the next time it runs.
Let us consider an item that has been accidentally deleted from a user's mailbox. Once CRA is run, Calendar Repair Missing Item Fix is executed. The item is recreated and marked as tentatively accepted (even though the user could have accepted the meeting before deletion).
The calendar item will contain a small description of the fixed issue as shown below:

Figure 1.2 Recovered calendar item
In addition, an E-mail will be placed in the Deleted Items folder describing what was corrected. A sample E-mail is shown in figure 1.3:

Figure 1.3 E-mail describing corrections
Checking the logs, we can see that the steps to recreate the calendar item were logged under a file holding the organizer's name.

Figure 1.4 Log for recreating a missing calendar item
By default, repair item fix is enabled on the mailbox server but you can disable this feature for troubleshooting purposes by running the cmdlet: Set-MailboxServer -Identity Exchange -CalendarRepairMissingItemFixDisabled $true
Finally, you can define the interval time you wish CRA to process. The default value is set to 30 days as shown below:

Figure 1.5 Calendar Repair Interval End Window
To have CRA fix settings for the coming 40 calendar days, run the cmdlet:Set-MailboxServer -Identity Exchange -CalendarRepairIntervalEndWindow 90
The Calendar Repair Assistant is very useful and I highly recommend using this new feature. Errors and issues might occur on the user's calendar without his/her knowledge. By enabling Calendar Repair, system administrators and end-users will make sure that calendar items stay consistent.