Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Unable to open the free/busy information.

Outlook, and more so when combined with Microsoft Exchange, can surprise even a veteran administrator with the number of messages and things that could happen. A new message displayed to an average user can trigger instant change to what might be another ordinary day as a chase ensues for answers to uncommon problems.

My last post about a strange error coming from either Outlook or Exchange server was back aways here - http://remotesupportpc.blogspot.com/2007/05/calendaring-agent-failed-in-message.html . Although that was my last post, it was not a last error message displayed.

I did want to post this open a recently displayed one however. Just so it's available to any followers of my postings and maybe just to add another resource to the web for anyone searching an answer to the problem. An answer which I used myself and I know it works. It's not a re-iterated answer found in a forum where the support forum poster just copied and pasted it from another forum or site without haven actually tried the solution they are recommending themselves.

What solved this problem for me was just running outlook /cleanfreebusy. So simply, on the users computer for which you would like to chare the calendar, and have completed the steps to do so, close Outlook if it is running then start it again using the command line switch /cleanfreebusy.

This will, in almost all cases, solve the problem. Don't waste too much time checking on the Exchange server for the cause to this problem, you won't find an aswner there untill you run the simple command line option for Microsoft Outlook. I almost all cases this is a user side problem and should first be delt with on the local computer on which MS Outlook is running on.

Outlook creates some local files for the calendar and they can get "dirty" the information in the files stored ont he computer and the Exchange server are not lined up right. The calandar information needs to be refreshed. The solution for the message "unable to open the free/busy information" applies to Outlook 2000, 2002, and 2003.

In some case, for Outlook 2003, Microsoft Office service pack 1 needs to be installed.

Remember the service pack will need to be applied on the on the computer of the user for whom the calendar is being viewed or an entry is being created/modified, not for the user receiving the error.

If using Outlook 2003, take a look to see if Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Service Pack 2 (SP2) is installed for Outlook.

To determine if either SP1 or SP2 is installed on the computer:
  • Start MS Outlook then click Help in the menu bar.
  • From the dropdown menu, choose About Microsoft Office Outlook.
  • On the top line of the About Microsoft Office Outlook window, look for SP1 or SP2.

If neither Service Pack 1 nor Service Pack 2 appears on the first line in the about window that's displayed, install SP1.