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Exchange Server

Using OWA 2003 for Storing Files

Can I enable users to store / upload files in their mailboxes through Outlook Web Access (OWA) in Exchange 2003?

This cool tip was first published by Sami Khoury on the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog.

Yes, although when users learn this trick they will soon start to upload ALL their crap to their mailboxes, and you will probably need to either implement mailbox quotas, or, if already using them, forcibly prevent users from crossing their quota limit.

In Windows 2000/2003 support has been added to a term called “web folders”, where you can browse the files and folders on a website in exactly the same way you browse your local disk. The underlying transport for web folders is called DAV, and Exchange 2000/2003 also supports and hooks itself to this interface.

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By connecting a client computer running Windows XP for example to a Windows Server 2003 computer running Exchange Server 2003, a user can send out HTTP requests to the server and if all is set up right, receive a window in which he or she can graphically browse their mailbox and folders.

In order to do so you must first configure your server to accept HTTP connections. This is done by default, as Exchange Server 2003 is installed on top of IIS and uses the WWW service for the OWA interface. Just make sure you can access OWA from your client machine, and preferably configure it to use SSL (read Configure SSL on OWA).

Next, assuming you use the following URL to access the OWA interface:


(or https is using SSL, substitute server_name with the FQDN of your Exchange server)

Log onto OWA with your username and password.

Next click CTRL+O (oh, not zero) to open a new path:

Make sure you select “Open as Web Folder”. Click Ok.

You will see a list of folders looking like regular Explorer folders, however if you look closely you’ll see that most of these folders are the same ones found in your mailbox.

You can easily browse any folder (beware of making any changes related to permissions!), and you can also create new folders. Right-click an empty spot and choose New > Folder.

After the folder was created (in this case – “Stuff”), you can easily copy contents and files from your computer and then paste them inside this folder:

Nice, huh?

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