Publishing Outlook Free/Busy Data - 20 Apr 2007

We recently removed a Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server system from our organization. Since that time, Microsoft Outlook clients have been receiving error messages saying that they can't publish free/busy data. What's causing this behavior?

The most likely cause is that the server you removed had the only replica of a key system folder--the Schedule+ Free Busy folder--in which Outlook clients publish their free/busy time lists. This folder has a globally unique identifier (GUID) that's registered as an attribute on the Administrative group object. To fix this problem, you need to create a replica of the folder, but first you must update the GUID. Here's how:

  1. Retrieve guidgen.exe from the \support\utils\i386 folder on your Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange 2000 Server CD-ROM. Run Guidgen, choosing Registry Format for the new GUID. The execution returns a long string of hexadecimal numbers; copy them to the clipboard.
  2. Open Notepad and paste in the GUID. Remove the curly brackets and hyphens from the number, then insert "0x" before each pair of digits. For example, you'd change 0011223344 to 0x00 0x11 0x22 0x33 0x44. Copy the modified string to the clipboard.
  3. Open the ADSI Edit utility (adsiedit.msc) by going to Programs, Windows 2000 Support Tools, Tools, ADSI Edit. Find your server's administrative group. You'll find this group in the CN=Microsoft Exchange, CN=Services, CN=Configuration container in your Active Directory (AD) domain.
  4. Open the Properties of your administrative group object and click the Attributes tab.
  5. Use the Select a Property to View drop-down menu to select the SiteFolderGuid property. Paste the GUID into the Edit Attribute field and click Set.
  6. Click OK and close ADSI Edit.
  7. Stop and restart the System Attendant and Information Store services.

Next you need to create a replica of the folder. You can do so from the Folders object in Exchange System Manager (ESM). Expand your administrative group object and the Folders node beneath it, then right-click the Public Folders object and use the View System Folders command. Expand the Schedule+ Free Busy folder and locate your administrative group's folder, then right-click it and open its Properties dialog box. Select the Replication tab and use the Add button to add at least one replica of the folder.

Now you must get the clients to publish their free/busy data to the restored folder. The fastest way to do this is to have clients start Outlook from the command line with the /cleanfreebusy switch, which forces Outlook to repost free/busy data for that account. You can also create a meeting and invite all users in the administrative group as mandatory attendees; when they accept, their free/busy information will be updated.

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