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An offline address book, or .OAB file, is used whenever Microsoft Outlook interacts with Exchange Server in cached mode. Microsoft Outlook downloads a compressed copy of the address book from the server once per day as a way to minimize traffic to Exchange Server in the form of LDAP calls to look up addresses.
If you have problems generating or synchronizing Microsoft Outlook offline address books, you can use the OABInteg tool to troubleshoot. This free command-line utility was developed under the auspices of the GotDotNet.com Web site (home to many interesting projects for Exchange Server and other server technologies).
OABInteg connects to an Exchange public folder, reads an offline address book, and keeps a tally of everything that happens during the process to check for potential problems.
This includes rebuilding .OAB files from scratch, which is where a fair number of the problems can take place. Typically, there is some condition on the Exchange server that causes the rebuild to fail, and is often due to an Active Directory misconfiguration.
OABInteg runs a number of different tests against both MAPI and Active Directory. For instance, one MAPI test determines whether or not the MAPISVC.INF file (which has a number of MAPI settings) has invalid attributes that might prevent an .OAB file from generating correctly.
Note that you must run the MAPI tests from a Microsoft Outlook client profile that is not in cached mode to prevent misleading results. Also, the LDAP tests can only be performed against a Global Catalog Server. Full documentation is included in a .DOC file with the OABInteg program.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.
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This was first published in June 2006