Reverted migration breaks Outlook’s rules

To test the throughput we could expect from mailbox moves, ten members of OUCS volunteered to became migration guinea pigs. A ‘suspend when ready to complete’ move had been run and, a week later, that move was completed.

This delay allowed me to capture valuable statistics for how fast data might be transferred but also the effect of delay on ¬†committing the final changes for the mailbox move, since that’s the part which users will be aware that something is happening. Once I had the data the mailboxes were then moved back to Exchange 2007.

Within a short time it became apparent that there was a problem: Outlook rules were no longer processing messages automatically. The rules would still work but only if they were run manually – a real inconvenience when your inbox also receives alerts from SCOM and a support ticketing system…

The diagnostic process quickly ruled out the client as the source of this problem – all Outlook users from the batch of volunteers had the same issue – and a further bit of troubleshooting showed that the usual fixes for rule issues (such as Outlook’s ‘clean rules’ startup switches, or exporting/deleting/restoring them) didn’t help. In fact there only seem to be two fixes that seems to resolve this: move the mailbox back to Exchange 2010 or create a brand new mailbox for an afflicted user and restore their content into it.

Now I should emphasise that this is not an issue we expect to affect our users – there are very few conceivable situations in which we’d expect to revert a migration in this way – our intention is to migrate everyone from Exchange 2007 onto Exchange 2010. That direction of migration works without a hitch.

But to try and identify what’s going on with rules under this situation¬† (a mailbox that has been moved from Ex2007 to Ex2010 is then moved back to Ex2007 again) I drew a blank. A search online found lots of people had reported the issue, some had even logged support tickets with Microsoft, but none suggested a solution.

I tried a different tack and contacted the Exchange team direct. I was extremely gratified to receive a reply from a member of that team over the Christmas break:

We are aware of this as a problem and have some bugs opened where it is being investigated as far as what the best way to deal with this problem is. Sorry to be deliberately cryptic, but at this stage, I simply have no more information to share. But we are looking into it!

I’ll update this post as further information about this issue becomes available.

UPDATE:

Automatic processing of your Outlook rules can be reinstated:

  • Log into Outlook Web Access
  • Disable Junk email filtering
  • Re-enable junk email filtering
  • That’s it!

The thread detailing this fix, and how we found it, is here:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/exchangesvradmin/thread/3cf2360f-0a4c-4c7e-87c9-6726e3dc34fd

FURTHER UPDATE:
Microsoft have issued the following response on this:

We are currently planning to release a permanent fix for this in the next rollup for Exchange 2007 (SP3 RU7). If you need the fix in the mean time, please call Exchange support and get an interim update.

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