Configuring SBS 2003/Exchange For Remote Laptops

Posted on 2005-04-22
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I am in the process of re-installing/re-configuring an existing SBS 2003 Premium installation.
There are many reasons for the re-install unrelated to my questions here, but the really big
issue (for me) is how to best configure SBS for laptop users.

SBS 2003 Premium; 25 users;
Exchange Server [pops] an ISP/Email Server (pop/

We have 2 categories of laptop users:
1)Office Employees:
    - work mostly out of the office except for an occasional trip
    - take the laptop home every night and expect to have [near] full capability(esp. email/Outlook)
    - when out of the office, want to use Outlook just like at the office through high speed internet
    - Use a PDA for email  (i.e., Nextel/Blackberry or TMobile/HP iPAQ)
2)Home Employees:
     - work entirely out of their home except for an occasional trip to the office
     - need to have [near] full capability at home/office through high speed internet (eso. email/Outlook)
     - when out of the home/office, want to use Outlook just like at the office through high speed internet
     - Use a PDA for email  (i.e., Nextel/Blackberry or TMobile/HP iPAQ)

The above configuration is currently running; well sort of.  There seem to always be lots of problems.
Each time I troubleshoot a problem, the cause most often points to a configuration issue.

My needs for this question are:
a) Can some tell me how to best configure SBS/Exghange Server to keep the laptop users happy?
b) Is there a good resource (book, Qarticle, newsgroup, etc.) available?

Question by:Slator
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    I have a similar client with needs such as yours. NOt as many, but just as demanding. Lawyer and doctor. I have them on their laptops at work and then have VPN tunnels from home to work. They simply close the laptop at work and go home. OPen the laptop there, they plug into their DSL/Cable modem lines with the router's configured as Tunnels back to work and Viola!! it is as if they never left the office. It sounds like you need to research a good VPN solution. And configure your server as a VPN server as well. This is done by the Remote Access Server Administration. Go throuigh the SBS server management guide. They have plenty of steps and wizards to help you get going. the SBS package is specifically designed to step by step walk through for the beginning/intermidiate admin. Go to start and click on "Manage Server". ONe of those icons should be to setup VPN or remote users. I also got my client going on their PDA, synchronizing with the exchange server.

    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    You are going to definitly want to try RPC over HTTP for outlook.  You will need Windows XP and Office2003 but it is completely worth the troubleshooting headache of remote mail and offline access.

    You will want to look at autoconfiguration scripts and registry saves to force settings.  Look at GPO policies for lockdown ability to keep users from changing options.  Things like this will keep you in good shape.  

    The above site is an awesome resource, you will want to peruz.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment


    I configure SBS/Exchange to "do" PPTP VPNs.. if I have to.  

    I prefer to just throw up OWA (with the default form, SSL cert from -- and give my users a piece of paper that explains their logon syntax.  Most just want email.  OWA shuts them up..  it sucks and I can't fix its limited functionality.  

    Generally, I find the "occasional" VPN user too scatter-brained to retain the "how-to-connect" training.  No, I'm not kidding.  When presented with their cached username, domain and a blank box that should be typer'd with their password, remembering the password they used to logon to the machine 2-3 minutes ago is not possible, frequently.

    So, OWA first.  VPN second.  RPC over HTTPS(ssl) third..

    I've found the RPC over HTTPS config outright nasty..  anyone else hate it?


    LVL 74

    Accepted Solution

    I just happened upon this question... which seemed abandoned by everyone including the page editor.

    So, I thought I'd chip in and see if there was ever a solution.

    First, for both types of users DEFINITELY use RPC over HTTP.  It's not only incredibly easy to configure there are configuration instructions that are automatically customized for your network available when you log into Remote Web Workplace at http://servername/remote, click on the "configure Outlook via the Internet".  This is a step-by-step guide to configuring Outlook.  Also, make sure that Outlook is running in Cached User mode.  This will allow users to have all of their email, contacts, etc even if they can't connect.

    There is nothing nasty about it.

    For the Office users that sometimes work remotely, make sure that you have used the Mobile Template for their user permissions.  If you haven't then you can reapply it.  For their laptops, include the two additional programs in the Assign Applications to Client Computers wizard (ActiveSync and Remote Connection Client).  The built-in VPN client works just great in most cases, depending on how the user connects.  So, I always tell users to try the vpn first because it's better (their access to network resources is easier, just as if they were in the office).  BUT... just in case they are having problems, there is always Remote Web Workplace.  Because RWW is designed for users to connect to their desktop at the office from a remote location... if they only have a laptop that isn't going to work... so I generally have a few virtual machines set up to accommodate remote laptop users).

    Another great way to make shared documents available is via Sharepoint.  Sharepoint is available over the web at any time either through RWW or directly at

    Lastly for the PDA people... I myself have an iPAQ 6315 (which I hate, btw... but not because of SBS connection).  There have been some connectivity issues, but I believe they are mostly worked out... check out Sean Daniel's blog for some great advice:

    Good Luck!


    P. S. --- Sc... you really shouldn't be a tech support person with that kind of attitude... it's never the right thing to do something just to "shut them up."  Find something else to do in life that will make you happy.

    Write Comment

    Please enter a first name

    Please enter a last name

    We will never share this with anyone.

    Featured Post

    Find Ransomware Secrets With All-Source Analysis

    Ransomware has become a major concern for organizations; its prevalence has grown due to past successes achieved by threat actors. While each ransomware variant is different, we’ve seen some common tactics and trends used among the authors of the malware.

    Suggested Solutions

    Title # Comments Views Activity
    IDFix X500 addresses 5 15
    outlook 2016 orgnize ideas 2 32
    Exchange 2007 13 16
    edit mobile phone number in office 365 15 0
    You might have come across a situation when you have Exchange 2013 server in two different sites (Production and DR). After adding the Database copy in ECP console it displays Database copy status unknown for the DR exchange server. Issue is strange…
    ADCs have gained traction within the last decade, largely due to increased demand for legacy load balancing appliances to handle more advanced application delivery requirements and improve application performance.
    In this video we show how to create a Resource Mailbox in Exchange 2013. We show this process by using the Exchange Admin Center. Log into Exchange Admin Center.: Navigate to the Recipients >> Resources tab.: "Recipients" is our default selection …
    In this video we show how to create an Address List in Exchange 2013. We show this process by using the Exchange Admin Center. Log into Exchange Admin Center.: First we need to log into the Exchange Admin Center. Navigate to the Organization >> Ad…

    779 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    15 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now