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RichardSims-5033 asked RichardSims-5033 published

Online Archives and Free/Busy data keeps disappearing from Outlook

Hi all.

I run a small organization with about 100 users on Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2010 utilizing Exchange Online Archiving.

A few months ago, possibly corresponding with the big "Exchange Server Hack" patches that I installed, we started having intermittent problems with users' online archives going missing from their Outlook profiles and not being able to see other users free/busy data when scheduling meetings. Deleting and recreating their Outlook profile immediately restores the functionality, and it usually sticks, but some users have had the issue reoccur at random intervals - all other features appear to work correctly. I don't know exactly how many people have had the issue, because most users don't use their online archive or free busy data, all I know for sure is that it hasn't happened to all workstations. I try to get my users up and running as quick as possible and it hasn't happened to any of the workstations that I use, so I haven't really dived in deep to try and figure out what's wrong, but if anybody has any knowledge to spare, I'd love to hear it :)

office-exchange-server-administrationoffice-outlook-itprooffice-exchange-online-itpro
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YukiSun-MSFT avatar image
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YukiSun-MSFT answered RichardSims-5033 commented

Hi @RichardSims-5033,

Considering that it's a randomly occurred issue, I am afraid it might be difficult to troubleshoot and find the root cause. As per you concern about the Exchange security patches installed a few months ago, I tried searching around but haven't seen similar reports so far.

Given this situation, personally I'd suggest checking the things below and see if there would be any improvement or whether we can get more clues for further troubleshoot:

  1. Are the users all running Outlook in Exchange cached mode? If this is the case, try switching to Exchange Online mode and monitor for some time to see how it goes.

  2. Make sure both the Exchange server and the users' Outlook client have been fully patched with all available updates.

  3. Although it seems that the issue is more likely to be related to the Outlook client side based on the symptom that the issue can be immediately restored by recreating the Outlook profile, I'd still recommend using the Test E-Mail Autoconfiguration tool to make sure Outlook can successfully connect to the Autodiscover service when the issue occurs.

By the way, actually both Exchange 2010 and Office 2010 have already hit End of Life and are no longer supported, so it's highly recommended to plan to upgrade your Exchange Environment and Office clients to a supported level.


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Thanks for replying!

  1. Yes, while I personally never use cached exchange mode, Outlook defaults to it so all profiles are cached exchange. I'm a bit apprehensive of globally switching off cached exchange mode for all users not knowing what the full ramifications would be, but I decided to try this and I picked one OU and applied it. Unfortunately I'll never know if it works, I'll only find out if it doesn't... I may consider expanding this to other groups if I don't hear any negative effects from those users now on that policy.

  2. Yes, Exchange is fully updated and patched, which may be what caused this problem :( Outlook is also fully patched via automatic updates.

  3. I did use the Test E-Mail Autoconfiguration tool and it passes with no issues found.


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Hi @RichardSims-5033,

Yes, while I personally never use cached exchange mode

May I know if you are experiencing this issue while using Exchange online mode?
And any reports about the issue from that particular OU which have been switched to Online mode?

Regarding the recent patch for Exchange 2010, still haven't heard about a similar case, but I'll keep an eye and post back here once I see any relavant information.


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I personally have not experienced the issue there, but I also rarely use that account and am not the only one there who has not experienced the issue.

I did have another user with the issue last week and I tried switching him to online mode prior to deleting his profile, and that did not resolve the issue, but then after I had him running I switched a few more OU's including his over to online mode.

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Thanks @RichardSims-5033 for sharing the current status.

In case switching to online mode doesn't work, I'd suggest testing with another version of Outlook if it's possible and see how it goes. Or you can configure a problematic user's account on a normal user's machine, monitor for a few days to see whether the issue can be reproduced. This could be helpful to narrow down if the issue is with the client side or it's more likely to be related to the Exchange server side.

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Well there's several issues with trying a different version of Outlook. For starters, the company wants everyone to use the same version, one of the reasons why they're still using 2010. Second, since it's random, if I were to try it, I'd have no way to guess which machine might be next. Office Pro costs 400 a pop, so that would be an expensive shooting range in the dark.

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Hi @RichardSims-5033,

Totally understandable. But in the long run, I personally recommend planning to upgrade to the supported versions of Exchange and Office. Anyway, in current situation, hopefully switching to online mode could be of some help.

Besides, in case the issue still persists in online mode, to help eliminate whether the issue is related to any third-party services or programs running on the machine, it's suggested to test on one affected machine by performing a clean boot in Windows and see how it goes.


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Hi @RichardSims-5033,

It has been a few days, just wondering how things are going on with the users who have been switched to Exchange online mode. Any update would be appreciated.


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Hi there,

I haven't had any occurrences in either people online or using cached. Unfortunately since it's so random, there's really no way to judge any shot in the dark kind of fix. However, it's usually when I think that it's not going to happen anymore is when it happens again...

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Actually I had another one today, but it was not in the online group. I moved several more ou's to online only...

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Hi @RichardSims-5033,

Okay. Let's see if moving to online mode can bring some improvement.

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So after having been running with cached mode off for a few months, it did seem to help, however we are still experiencing the issue. Today I had two users report the same issue, and I had previously recreated their profiles about two weeks ago. Very frustrating.

Still no indication of any issues in any event logs that I can find.

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Hi @RichardSims-5033,

Today I had two users report the same issue, and I had previously recreated their profiles about two weeks ago.

Did you have a chance to check via OWA? And it's all working fine there. right?

Then considering that sometimes weird issues occured in Outlook client could be caused by some third-party add-ins or applications interfering with Outlook, in case the issue comes back again, before recreating an Outlook profile, I'd recommend trying to run Outlook in safe mode(Press Win+R, type "outlook /safe", press Enter.) and perform a Windows clean boot as mentioned earlier to see if it can make any difference.



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RichardSims-5033 answered YukiSun-MSFT commented

So, I had an opportunity this week with a user who didn't need an immediate fix, so I just had an opportunity to actually investigate. Unfortunately I fixed it too quickly before I learned a whole lot.

The first thing I tried was examining the mailboxes of the affected user and my own account using MFCMAPI, but I couldn't find anything obvious, so I then tried the Outlook Repair setting under Account Settings / Email Accounts, and at first that didn't seem to work. it first failed to find any server settings, and I had to log in manually. It did not appear to fix anything. I tried running it again and it immediately came up as successful and the problems were all resolved.

I don't know whether it was the first attempt at the repair tool that fixed it, or the second. But I will try this again the next time I get another user with the issue, which probably won't be long.

My big question right now however, is there anyway to automate this repair procedure? A command line I can run which would do it automatically?

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Hi @RichardSims-5033,

I tried running it again and it immediately came up as successful and the problems were all resolved.

Great to know that running the Outlook profile "Repair" managed to fix the problems. But when it comes to your concern about an automative way to repair the Outlook profile, to the best of my knowledge, I'm afraid currently there's no command line or Outlook switch line available for it. Given this, if this method can work for other users who have encounter this issue, you may consider sharing the instructions to the end-users so that they can "Repair" the profiles by themselves. See Fix your Outlook email connection by repairing your profile.


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RichardSims-5033 answered RichardSims-5033 published

So...

I've used the "Repair" method a couple of times now, and it's interesting what happens. I always have to click repair, then it it tries to do it and comes up with a login box for the account and I hit cancel. Then I restart outlook and hit repair again, this time it immediately works and says you have to restart outlook. When I restart outlook, the archive mailbox is there.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. The archive mailbox will usually disappear usually after about a minute, right in front of my eyes. I then repeat the process over again, and it may take a few times through and then it sticks (don't know how permanent it will be). It has taken 2 attempts up to about 5 attempts.

I just did this with a user and it was the longest number attempts, like around 5, and I decided I was going to capture the outlook profile out of the registry when it was working and not working, and so I did. I captured it when it was "broken", after I fixed it, and after an outlook restart when it was "Working". Aside from some small changes between the profiles, the biggest difference is that on the fixed and working captures there is an entire extra key under the profile which contains the mapping to the archive guid. Unfortunately this key is a random number, so it's not the same between profiles.

So basically it seems that whenever this issue happens it deletes this registry key from the outlook profile in the registry and is then no longer opening the archive mailbox.

Anybody have any ideas as to what may be causing this?

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