Free / Busy Issue

Posted on 2010-01-07
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Hello all you Experts out there!  I will try and make this as short and concise as possible.

~Single Exchange 2003 SP2 Enterprise mailbox server, Native Mode
~Running on Windows 2003 SP2
~Domain is Native mode Windows 2003 AD
~Mailboxes have no POP3 or IMAP enabled
~Have installed and configured the Microsoft Exchange Auto Accept Agent as documented in this link (
~I have 26 physical conference rooms spread out over a very large site (miles)
~Currently, I have all the Conference Room (CR) mailboxes set to publish 36 months of Free/Busy data, refreshing once a minute.

~All I'm getting for the any of the CR mailbox's Free/Busy data is hash marks.  This isn't because there is nothing scheduled.  There is stuff scheduled in all of them for the next three years.  For some reason though, I start getting hash marks starting on April 1st.

I have configured the Agent as described in the link above and logged into all the CR mailboxes and set the required parameters.  I started Outlook with the /cleanfreebusy switch as well.  Something isn't right though.  It doesn't matter how many times a day I log into the mailboxes to update the Free/Busy.  Within a couple of hours, the hash marks are back.


1.  Does providing/updating Free/Busy data from a resource require that someone be physically logged into the mailbox at all times?

2.  In Exchange 2003 SP2 Enterprise, is there a step I'm missing when I create the mailbox?  I understand that in Outlook you have to SCHEDULE the CR as resource, but is there another switch/checkbox I need to flip somewhere that IDENTIFIES the mailbox as an Exchange resource in AD?

Thanks for all your help,

Question by:CaptTact
    LVL 52

    Expert Comment

    1. No
    2. Maybe some issue with the AutoAccept itself

    Author Comment

    Can you think of anything that would cause the free/busy data to revert to hash marks?
    LVL 52

    Expert Comment

    2 things
    1. System folder corruption
    2. Mailbox or in this case if all Room Mailboxes are affected and no user mailbox then maybe Auto Accept Agent issue

    Author Comment

    by:CaptTact's where it gets even weirder.  Look at Free-Busy-Example.jpg attached to this post.  I have CRs showing "No Data" and "Busy" at the same time!  How in heck is that possible?  
    Also, you'll notice that down towards the bottom, you'll notice that there is one that IS posting F/B data after April 1st.  Just for grins, I logged onto the computer as the CR that is posting correctly and looked at the settings for the client, then logged off and back on as a CR that is posting incorrectly.  I changed NOTHING, but you will notice in the second screen shot that all of a sudden, it starts posting F/B data again after April 1st.
    I have my Outlook client set to publish 36 months of F/B data every minute, and the same for every CR.  However, not ALL the user's Outlook clients are set to 36 months yet.  I think most of them are still set to two months, which is the default.  
    Would one of those clients viewing the calendar cause the F/B data for the CR to revert to the existing behavior?
    I KNOW this has to be something simple, but I can't find it and it's eating my lunch!


    Author Comment

    I know it's not system folder corruption, as I have deleted and recreated at least one of the mailboxes.
    I'm taking a look at the script now.

    Author Comment

    Okay...I ran this command on the mailbox server:
    cscript //NOLOGO mailboxstatus.vbs /F:mailboxes.txt
    I got this:
        <CurrentTime>1/7/2010 3:42:29 PM</CurrentTime>
    All the mailboxes returned this:
      <Mailbox EmailAddress="">
    They all list a status code of "2" which means "registration status cannot be determined."  Now I just need to figure out why registration status can't be determined.

    Author Comment

    Registration status was a matter of permission.  As soon as I added an account other than my Exchange Admin account (which is denied access to mailboxes by default), I got a status of 1.
    LVL 52

    Expert Comment

    So did you create a CR without AutoAcceot and manual updating and see its behaviour ........ As i dont think if System Folders are corrupted the Exchange is causing issue ........... Also did you check through OWA and see whats the difference

    Author Comment

    Haven't done anything further yet's been a busy day.
    I'm also going to scale back how often the F/B replicates, from once a minute to once every 5 minutes.  If that doesn't work, I'll scale it back even further to every 15 minutes.  I had a former Microsoft Exchange team member tell me that the F/B connectors are somewhat fragile and might be getting overloaded by replicating that often.
    We'll see....
    Thanks for your input.

    Author Comment

    by:CaptTact's what I did yesterday:
    • I logged into the network 26 times, once for each CR mailbox.  I went through the Outlook client settings and made sure they were ALL identical.  For a couple of hours, everything was kosher.  Now, we've got hash marks in the F/B data again.
    • The ONLY setting that is NOT identical on all the CR mailboxes is that I set the F/B update time from every minute to anywhere between 15 - 60 minutes, depending on how busy the CR is.
    • Here's the breakdown of the 26 mailboxes:
      • 8 mailboxes are having NO problems at all.
      • 8 mailboxes are displaying F/B data just fine, until April 1st.  After that point in time, they just display hash marks.
      • 3 mailboxes are fine until April 1st, and after that, they are displaying BOTH appointment times AND hash marks.
      • 7 mailboxes are displaying hash marks, because there hasn't been anything scheduled on those calendars yet.
    @Rancy - I checked the calendars of all these CR mailboxes through the OWA...same behavior.  
    Additionally, I am using Exchange 2003, which doesn't have the setting for marking an AD account as an Exchange Resource.  That feature isn't available until EX2007, from what I've been told.  So if that feature isn't available in 2003, then what good would it do to create another CR mailbox and not register it with the Auto Accept script?  Wouldn't it be just another normal mailbox-enabled AD account at that point?
    If so, then none of the other mailbox-enabled (user) calendars are having this issue.  
    IF THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between the two types of mailboxes (user and CR), other than registering the CR with the script, could you enlighten me as to what that is?  I can't find anything to tell me how to differentiate the two in AD.
    Any other suggestions?  Thanks so much for your help.

    Author Comment

    Come on folks!
    This can't be THAT hard a problem for all you experts out there!  I know it has to be something simple that I am overlooking.
    No ideas?  None at all?!

    Accepted Solution

    Good Morning everyone!
     Just thought I'd let you folks know what the fix was for this issue.  For some reason, no matter how I searched, I wasn't able to come up with this article.  However, after contacting MS, they sent me the link and it worked flawlessly.
     The article link is:
     For some reason, that registry entry didn't exist on my Exchange server.  Since I created it, set the number of months to 36 and restarted the required services, it has worked perfectly.
     One problem down...2,963,401 to go!  ;0)
     Jim Blunt

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