Fix Microsoft Outlook – Exchange Is Unavailable, Outlook Must Be Online Or Connected

While setting up a few new users I was getting an error while trying to add a new email account.
While walking through the default setup – simply launching Outlook on a new users profile (who, of course, has and email account associated with his AD account) Outlook gave an error message that said, "The connection to Microsoft Exchange is unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action."

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Now, I know that I’m online on the domain – the new user authenticated. AND I could ping the Exchange server via name too. Also since there are other users on this device and it’s fairly new I was pretty sure that it’s not a system error.

It finally seemed that the user (PC) was not able to see our domain controller as the global catalog server and hence was not able to find our mail server via Active Directory. [Why this was happening on only this user will have to be further investigated Smile ]

Per MS – This behavior occurs when the Exchange Server computer (where the Outlook client is homed) and the global catalog server are both located in a site that is remote from the Outlook client location. (article here).

The fix:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedit.exe, and then click OK.
  3. Locate and then click the following key in the registry:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Exchange\Exchange Provider
    Note You may have to create the registry path.

  4. On the Edit menu, click Add Value, and then add the following registry value:

    Value name: DS Server
    Data type: REG_SZ (string)
    Value data: FQDN of the global catalog server ( ourDC.domain.local )

Restart the PC and you should be able to reopen Microsoft Outlook and run through your profile set up. If finding the global catalog server was the issue, the problem should now be resolved and the email account should now properly add properly.

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