Outlook Web Access is a low-maintenance Exchange Server component. Aside from applying the sporadic updates, you don’t need to do much to keep OWA running properly. But when this component fails, it has a major blow on end users. Here are 3 methods which you can use to get your OWA back up and running.
1. Start with OWA basics
If one of your OWA servers breaks down, the very first thing you need to check is the server clock. If the clock falls out of synchronization with your domain controllers, authentication will be failed. This will create some problems for OWA and ActiveSync.
Once you have checked the server’s clock, make sure that the domain name system(DNS) name resolution functions as it should be. Numerous OWA troubles have been tracked with an inaccurate entries on internal DNS servers.
2. Client access server: To rebuild or not to rebuild?
Approximately all the vital Exchange configuration information is stored in Active Directory, not on Exchange servers. This turns out things to be simpler when you require to rebuild an out of order Exchange server. In fact, you can totally rebuild your client access server (CAS) in about an hour by following these uncomplicated steps:
- Make note of which version and service pack level your server operating system presently runs.
- Make note of which version and service pack level Exchange Server at present runs.
- Make note of your server name.
- Reset -- but do not delete -- the server’s Computer account in Active Directory.
- Format the server hard drive and install a clean copy of Windows. Be sure to use the same version and service pack level you used before. .
- Change the server name to match the one you used previously.
- Join the server to the domain with the existing computer account.
- Verify that your Exchange Server installation media is the same version and service pack level that you previously used.
- Install any Exchange Server prerequisite components.
- Insert the Exchange installation media and run the following command: Setup /M:RecoverServer.
This technique almost fixes an OWA problem at all times, but it comes with a limitation. Remember that services other than OWA are hosted by CAS. If you use these steps to repair the CAS, then OWA, Outlook Anywhere (connects users to Exchange outside their perimeter network) and ActiveSync will be inaccessible for the period of the repair unless you have a different client access server to cope up with the work pressure.
Even if you can perform without these services for an hour or two, remember that if you are working on MS Exchange Server 2010, all your Outlook clients connect to the CAS. If you are having only one CAS and take it down for repairing tasks, then none of your users can connect to Exchange.
You should also strive to avoid using the method explained above, if your CAS hosts some extra Exchange Server roles or if the customizations have been made by you to OWA.
3. Recreate your OWA virtual directory
Troubles with OWA are frequently traced to virtual directories. You can generally resolve a virtual directory issue without taking the CAS totally offline, but vigilance is in order.
The method below describes how to recreate your OWA virtual directory. Though, when you do, the virtual directory’s contents go back to their default values. If you have made any OWA modifications, they will be removed and you will be then required to reload any custom OWA code after the process ends.
Furthermore, you should work with the OWA virtual directories via an Exchange server rather than through IIS. While it is feasible to recreate the OWA virtual directory at the IIS level, doing so is nearly at all times challenging.
1. The simplest method to recreate the OWA virtual directory is from the Exchange Management Console (EMC). The initial step is to remove the old OWA virtual directory. Use the following command:
Remove–OwaVirtualDirectory –Identity ‘<server name>\owa (Default Web Site)’
2. If you wish to remove the OWA virtual directory from a server named Exch1, you can make use of the following command.
Remove–OwaVirtualDirectory –Identity ‘Exch1\owa (Default Web Site)’
3. Once you have removed the OWA virtual directory, generate a new one with the following command:
New-OwaVirtualDirectory –InternalUrl ‘https://<fqdn>/owa’ –WebSiteName ‘Default Web Site’
4. To build a new OWA virtual directory on a server named Exch1 in the Contoso.com domain, use the following command:
New-OwaVirtualDirectory –InternalUrl ‘https://Exch1.contoso.com/owa’ –WebSiteName ‘Default Web Site’
Once you have created the new OWA virtual directory, you should reset IIS. This will result in a short CAS server outage, but the outage must be only for a few seconds.
To reset IIS, you need to use the IISRESET /NoForce command. Also, you should issue this command from a prominent command prompt window, as oppose to a PowerShell window.
As you can notice, there are numerous techniques for repairing OWA. The trick is in determining which method is best for your OWA environment and end users.