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Outlook Web Access deletion issues

I have an Exchange 5.5 server with SP4 with Outlook Web Access (OWA), IIS4 under NT4 with SP6. We also have Symantec Antivirus for SMTP gateway running on this box. Everything has been working well since August 2003. Recently we had an issue with OWA. When a user tries to delete a message the server responds with "unable to delete item." I've uninstalled and reinstalled OWA for Exchange 5.5, IIS4 and redeployed Exchange SP4. The problem is not solved. Do you have any ideas on how to correct this?

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I've seen a lot of environments in which the "unable to delete item" error occurs. As you probably know, this can occur if a mailbox is full and someone attempts to delete messages via Outlook Web Access (OWA). I suspect, however, that this isn't what you're seeing. It's likely that your OWA clients are unable to get to your system folders within Exchange. This is possible in a variety of scenarios. It can happen in a migration scenario when Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 servers are present and available through OWA2000 or OWA2003, but when the system folders haven't completely replicated. It's also possible if there is a problem with your system folders such as could be caused by improper deletion of the first Exchange 5.5 server in a site. Since you describe your environment to be pure Exchange 5.5, I'll assume this is the case that applies to you.

You'll need to get a copy of a utility called GUIDGEN.EXE from Microsoft and you'll need to run this utility as follows:

  • double-click on GUIDGEN.EXE

  • Select "Registry Format" and select "New GUID." This will generate a random GUID that you'll use to rebuild your system folders. Write this value down.

  • Launch Exchange Administrator in raw mode by typing admin /r at a command prompt.

  • Navigate to the configuration container and select the Information Store Site Configuration object. Select File | Raw Properties and find the Site Folder GUID in the attributes window. Click Editor.

  • In the resulting screen, replace the existing GUID with the one you created with GUIDGEN.EXE. Click OK | Set | OK to exit these screens.

  • Restart the Information Store service on the server.

Note that this will create new Organizational Forms, Schedule + Free/Busy and Offline Address Book (OAB) site folders. It'll take a bit until the Schedule + Free/Busy folder gets re-populated by all the clients in your environment, which may affect what free/busy times your users will see for a short while. You'll also have to re-generate your OAB. But overall this should fix your issue with OWA users getting "unable to delete item" errors.

This was first published in July 2004

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