Friday, August 31, 2007

No Free/Busy information could be retrieved

Here is one of the common problems I have seen after not successful migration. The old server still has the Schedule + Free Busy information, and Exchange administrator forget to replicate it over to new server and decommissions the old server. The new exchange server works the most part works just fine except Free Busy information. Lets clear this up first what is free busy and where we find this folder in Exchange org.

Here is the location

  • Public Folders


Exchange Server 2003 stores free/busy information in a dedicated public folder that is named SCHEDULE+ FREE BUSY

This folder contains a separate subfolder for each administrative group in your Exchange organization. When a user publishes free/busy data, Exchange Server 2003 posts the information in a message in the appropriate free/busy subfolder. The free/busy folders are system folders and function in a manner that is similar to offline address book folders.

How a user locates this information

When a user schedules an appointment or meeting and wants to determine the availability of another user, the client must obtain free/busy data for that user. To do this, the client must first locate the appropriate free/busy folder, and then identify the free/busy message for the specified user. Outlook performs this task slightly differently than Outlook Web Access and Outlook Mobile Access

Locating Free/Busy Information with Outlook

When locating a user's free/busy public folder, Outlook uses a process that is similar to its publishing process. Outlook starts by retrieving the user's legacyExchangeDN value from Active Directory, and then uses that value to identify the name of the free/busy folder and the subject line of the appropriate free/busy message. Outlook then searches for the appropriate folder and message, starting with the specified user's default public folder store, and if necessary, requesting a referral to an appropriate server

Location Free/Busy with OWA and OMA

When Outlook Web Access or Outlook Mobile Access requests free/busy information for a selected user, the Exchange server that supports the Outlook Web Access applications (generally a front-end server) processes the request.

The front-end server sends a query to the users default public folder store ( if you don't have the Free/Busy folder there here you will have problems), which responds with a list of available free/busy servers. As is the case with a normal public folder referral, the front-end server sends a query to the first available server in the list, which responds with the free/busy data. The front-end server only queries another free/busy server if the first server in the list does not respond. If Outlook Web Access or Outlook Mobile Access does not use a front-end server, the users default public folder store will only respond with a single free/busy server. If that server is unavailable, the request will fail. No other servers can be queried.

Multiple Sites Consideration

When Outlook Web Access or Outlook Mobile Access requests free/busy information, the mailbox store will use one free/busy server to find the information. This limitation may cause problems if your topology has multiple sites, because in the default configuration, each free/busy server holds only that site's free/busy data. You need to configure the free/busy folders to replicate if you want data from multiple sites to be available to all users.

Removed a users still getting conflicting meeting request, here is the reason

I have seen many times, a secretary leaves the company who and account gets deleted but people still gets conflicting meeting request, and cannot understand why. Sometimes users will retrieve old free/busy information for a user with a moved mailbox because the legacyExchangeDN is not valid or has been manually changed. This situation causes significant problems for the moved user because the user may receive many conflicting meeting requests. The free busy data is the information which is published on the Public folder and shows the user availability or schedule.

Common mistakes and the fix are in the KB article 284200. The summarization of the cause is as below


This behavior occurs because the only instance of the "Schedule+ Free/Busy" system folders has been deleted or contains invalid data. The new Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 Server points to an incorrect Exchange Server computer as being the public folder server for the administrative group.

Basically the Administrator forgets to replicate all system folders properly, and causes the Free/Busy to be lost on the new exchange server.


Follow the article 284200

Open adsiedit.msc and locate the following

  • Configuration Container [Computer.Domain.Com]
  • CN=Configuration, DC=(YourDomainController),DC=com
  • CN=Services
  • CN=Microsoft Exchange
  • CN=(YourOrganization)
  • CN=Administrative Groups
  • CN=(YourAdministrativeGroup)


Go to attributes, Properties, and locate "SiteFolderServer"

If you are seeing old server name this has to be changed to new server name. In order to do that, you need to know the distinguishedName.

Drill down in ADSIedit.msc

  • Configuration Container [Computer.Domain.Com]
  • CN=Configuration, DC=(YourDomainController),DC=com
  • CN=Services
  • CN=Microsoft Exchange
  • CN=(YourOrganization)
  • CN=Administrative Groups
  • CN=(YourAdministrativeGroup)
  • CN=(Servers)
  • CN=(YourServer)
  • CN=InformationStore
  • CN=First Storage Group


  • In the right pane, double-click CN=Public Folder Store (YourServerName) to open the properties.
  • Under Select a Property to View, click distinguishedName.
  • Copy the value.

You need to paste this value into SiteFolderServer" on the first step. Close ADSIedit.msc and restart information store service on the Exchange server.If you are still not seeing the Free/Busy folder under public folders (backup all PF information) delete the PF database and recreate the new one.


Do not forget to replicate the Free/Busy information and all other system folders if you do a migration.



Oz Ozugurlu


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