Introduction to Offline Address Book Best Practices Guide


This guide provides recommendations and best practices for deploying and managing offline address books with Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003. Whether you are deploying a new Exchange Server 2003 messaging system or upgrading from a previous Exchange version, this guide gives you best practice recommendations, including recommendations on how to optimize offline address book usage in a variety of scenarios. In addition, this guide addresses the most common issues that you may encounter when using offline address books.

Assumptions Used in This Guide

The following assumptions were made for this guide:

  • This guide is based on Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 (SP2). Exchange Server 2003 SP2 includes enhancements that improve the offline address book experience.

  • This guide is also based on Outlook 2003 with SP2. Outlook 2003 SP2 also includes enhancements for offline address books. For more information about Outlook 2003 SP2, see the Microsoft Office Online Web site.


    Both Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and Outlook 2003 SP2 introduce Offline Address Book version 4 (OAB v4). You can use this guide to help you deploy and manage offline address books even if you do not run Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and Outlook 2003 SP2. However, you will not be able to use the improvements to offline address books that have been introduced with OAB v4. For detailed information about the offline address book improvements that have been added since the original releases of Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003, see Improvements for Offline Address Books.

  • This guide includes many details to help you understand, deploy, and use OAB v4. For additional information about offline address book v4, see OAB Version 4 in Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 and How Outlook 2003 SP2 and Exchange Server 2003 SP2 OAB Version 4 Work Together. For a list of resources referenced in this guide and other resources that can help you manage offline address books, see Offline Address Book Best Practices Guide Resources.

Who Should Read This Guide?

Although almost anyone with a technical background can benefit from reading this guide, it is designed to produce maximum benefits for the following professionals:

  • IT professionals   Those individuals who specialize in troubleshooting the difficulties that end users have with their messaging environment.

  • Messaging system architects   Those individuals responsible for planning and crafting overall business strategies and solutions.

  • Exchange Server and Outlook administrators   Those individuals responsible for installation, maintenance, and administration of Exchange Server and Outlook software in the enterprise.


Before reading further, familiarize yourself with the following terms.

Offline address book An offline address book is a container that stores a collection of offline address lists. Administrators configure available offline address books, and Outlook users can choose which offline address lists they want to download.

Offline address list An offline address list is a set of address lists in files that are created and stored on an offline address list server. Users who work offline can connect to an Exchange Server computer and download offline address lists to obtain information about other users in the organization. When you create an offline address book, the specified address lists are converted to a separate set of files and stored in a public folder. When users download the offline address book, this data file is used as the source of information. Offline address books typically contain at least one address list that represents the global address list (GAL). Users who are working offline can use this global address list with Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) e-mail clients.

For more information about other Exchange-related terms, see the Exchange Server 2003 Glossary.