These Tools Can Troubleshoot Exchange Calendar Problems

In a perfect world, calendar items in Exchange would always be accurate. As every Exchange administrator knows, they’re not living in a perfect world.

Flexibility, especially in versions of Exchange prior the 2010 edition, can contribute to the problem with keeping items like meetings squared away. It gives users a lot of  freedom on how they manage meetings on their calendars. That freedom can translate into inconsistencies in the calendars of people who create meetings and those invited to attend them.

Administrators are well aware of the kinds of problems that can occur in calendars in Exchange. The names of people invited to a meeting, for example, mysteriously disappear from a user’s mailbox. Meetings are duplicated on a calendar or the meeting’s organizer disappears. Meeting changes appear on desktop calendars but not on mobile calendars.

A number of tools exist to address calendar problems and make them less tedious and time consuming. Here are some of them.

  • MFCMapi. This tool, recently updated on Jan. 28, can be useful in assessing why calendar meetings keep changing in a user’s calendar or shuffled off to the deleted items folder. By connecting MFCMapi to the mailbox profile of the user experiencing the moving meeting problem, you can peek into that profile, identify the troublesome meeting and export its properties to a text file where they can be analyzed for problems.
  • Exchange Trace. Found in the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant for the 2007 and 2010 versions of the software, you can customize Trace to monitor a set of tags — tagCalendarChange, tagCalendarDelete, tagMtgMessageChange, tagMtgMessageDelete, for example — for a mailbox with a calendar problem. However, during a trace,  you’ll need to recreate a problem or have it manifest itself. In addition, once the trace if completed, you’ll probably need to consult Microsoft support to make sense out the trace results.
  • CalCheck. This is an all-purpose utility that works with most versions of Microsoft Office Outlook and Exchange. It runs from a command line and performs a number of checks on Outlook’s calendar. It checks permissions, for example, as well as delegate configurations, free/busy publishing information, direct booking settings and total number of items in the calendar folder.

After performing those checks, the utility scrutinizes each item in the calendar folder for known problems that can cause unexpected behavior.  Missing email addresses for a meeting organizer or a sender would be such problems. So, too, would be no dispidRecurring property, which would cause an item to be absent in the Day/Week/Month calendar view. It also checks for item conflicts and duplicates, as well as if recurring meeting limits are being approached (more than 1250) or exceeded (1300 is maximum).

  • Calendar Repair Assistant (CRA). Introduced in Exchange 2010, this mailbox assistant runs within the Maibox Assistants service. It’s designed to maintain consistency between the calendars of a meeting’s organizer and its attendees. Since the CRA is turned off by default, you have to enable and configure it through the Management Shell. Once its running, the CRA will run on all the mailboxes on the server for which the CRA is configured. Although the CRA had initial problems identifying how inconsistencies occurred and was time-based so it could be a drag on network performance, those problems were cleaned up in SP1 for Exchange 2010.
Written by John P Mello Jr

John Mello is a freelance writer who has written about business and technical subjects for more than 25 years. He is frequent contributor to the ECT News Network and his work has appeared in a number of periodicals, including Byte magazine, PC World, Computerworld, CIO magazine and the Boston Globe

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