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What to Do When RUS Fails
Double-check your configurations to avoid Recipient Update Service blunders.
by Ben Schorr and Jim McBee

September 16, 2004

I'm not completely clear on what the Recipient Update Service does. I figured if anybody can explain it to me in plain English it would be you.

—Faith, Santa Ana, Calif.

Ben: In that case it may be that nobody can explain it in plain English then, but we'll give it our best shot. Put simply, the Exchange 2000/2003 Recipient Update Service (RUS) is responsible for checking Active Directory for new objects and then assigning those new objects e-mail addresses and address list membership.

Jim: The RUS is a process that runs as part of the Microsoft Exchange System Attendant. In an organization with a single domain, you will automatically have two RUSs configured in the RUS container under Recipients. One of the RUSs is responsible for updating mail-enabled recipients in the domain portion of Active Directory. The other is the Enterprise Configuration RUS, which is responsible for updating mail-enabled objects (such as Exchange servers) that are found in the Configuration partition of Active Directory.

Ben: Figure 1 shows a configured RUS. If you create a new RUS, you must specify the Exchange server that is responsible for running the RUS and the name of the domain controller to which the RUS must connect. These will not automatically change to another Exchange server or domain controller if the original servers go offline. You must change them manually if a server is removed from the network. This is a common problem for the RUS.

Jim: There is no single best practice for creating RUSs in your organization. If you have only one or two Exchange servers and domain controllers then you can live with the defaults. Just don't forget to check your RUS configuration if you remove an Exchange server or domain controller from the organization. In larger organizations with many sites, I usually recommend creating a RUS in each site that uses a domain controller in that local site. One important fact to note is that you cannot specify an Exchange front-end server to run a RUS. I learned that the hard way.

Ben: If your RUS isn't working properly then when you create new users they won't get an e-mail address. Check the resources section for a link to an excellent article on troubleshooting the RUS. Microsoft Knowledge Base article 294792 also has good information on configuring the RUS.

Can I sync my Exchange 2003 public folders to my Pocket PC?

—Kris, Providence, R.I.

Ben: Not as easily as you might think. Offhand, the only product I know of that can do it is Vonken Software's Pocket Lookout. Ironically, Palm users have several options, and there have been a few attempts for Pocket PC users, but nothing stands out.

Jim: I can't think of any other options either, and I'd really love to see Microsoft build this capability into ActiveSync. Be aware that Vonken Software doesn't offer support for Pocket Lookout anymore. They've dropped the price to a very reasonable $10, but once you download the software you're on your own.

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