Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Outlook 2010 - Manage Outlook settings with Group Policy - Part 2 - Cached Mode, OSTs and OABs

Once we've installed the Office 2010 ADMX files, and created the GPO (please see Part 1), we can configure the settings that will regulate Outlook functionality.

In this example, I would like to prevent the use of cached Exchange mode which should translate into the absence of .ost and .oab files in the local user profile on the client machine.

Note: use of cached Exchange mode may be preferable in your environment. This example does not imply that, in general, it should be disabled. Each administrator should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of cached and online mode.

First, let's look at what the user profile would look like with cached Exchange mode enabled.

We have both a .ost file which is the byproduct of using cached Exchange mode (this is cached version of the mailbox) and a Offline Address Books folder which contains a set of .oab files that constitute the Offline Address Book.

How could we prevent the downloading of this data if we determined that to be appropriate for our environment?

I created a GPO named "Outlook 2010 settings".

We'll right-click on it (in the Group Policy Management Console - or GPMC) and navigate to the following location:

User Configuration | Policies | Administrative Templates | Microsoft Outlook 2010 | Account Settings | Exchange | Cached Exchange Mode

In the right pane, open the following setting:

"Use Cached Exchange Mode for new and existing Outlook profiles"

And select "Disabled":

The "Help" section  informs us that:

I also enabled the following setting one folder above:

"Do not allow an OST file to be created"

So my GPO has the following settings enabled (or disabled...) :

I then apply the GPO to the OU containing my test user and logon to a computer on which they do not have an existing profile.

Note: you may have to adjust the GPO order of application as well, for example:

If we go to the location previously indicated, we see that there is no OAB folder and no .ost file:

Likewise, if we look at the Exchange "Server Settings", we will see that "cached Exchange mode" is grayed out:

As for the OAB folder (and files), I did observe, in testing, that such a folder was not created by default (once the settings above are applied). However, I noticed that the user could still attempt to download the OAB manually. This will create the OAB folder:

However, we can ensure that the OAB is not downloaded with the following setting:

[...] Microsoft Outlook 2010 | Account Settings | Offline Address Book | Offline Address Book: Limit manual OAB downloads

Set the number of manual downloads to 0:

This is the result...

An error message for the user:

And even if the OAB folder is created, no .oab files are downloaded:

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