Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Client rules interfere with Exchange rules…WTF?


By David Gewirtz

OutlookPower reader Carrie Ruckdeschel asks:

I'm wondering about an issue I'm having today...
Situation: I use Yahoo for my business email. I access it through Outlook. Today I set up a new email account that uses Exchange server, which was provided to me through a partnership and the intention is to use it for communications with partner's customers.
When I completed the setup of the email account using Exchange server my rules were gone. Gone. So luckily I had recently moved to a new PC and had a copy of my rules from not too long ago. Upon importing them I had to go through them all and almost recreate them by resetting properties. There were a few rules missing so I went through and created those. Now I'm getting the error message
"One or more rules could not be uploaded to Exchange server and have been deactivated. This could be because some of the parameters are not supported or there is insufficient space to store all your rules."
And then the rule is unchecked when I click OK. What's the deal with this? How can I get my client-only rule to work? I'm aggravated because none of my rules have anything to do with an Exchange server and they are all client-only. I also have each of my rules set to a specific account, which is my Yahoo account, so I would hope that it wouldn't have anything to do with a rules storage capacity issue etc in the Exchange server.

Oh, Carrie, Carrie, Carrie...welcome to the weird, wacky, and wonderful world of Outlook rules.

Carrie doesn't tell us which version of Outlook she's using or which version of Exchange she's connecting to -- always a good detail to provide when asking for help. Each version has slightly different quirks, but the basic idea is the same.

The key element to this is that Carrie migrated from connecting just to Yahoo to an environment where the Exchange server comes into the mix. To Microsoft, the Exchange server connection is the primary connection -- and therein lies your problem.

Exchange has certain limits to the total size of your rules set. Prior to Exchange 2007, that limit was a completely silly 32K. This became even more of a problem back in the day when users upgraded from Outlook 2000 to either Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007, because rules when from simple encoding to the beefier Unicode format (about twice the storage use).

In response to this, Exchange 2007 increased its rule limitation to 64K per mailbox. The good news (sort of) is that the Exchange administrator can upgrade the rule store to a whopping (OK, not really) 256K.

The question is: what do you do about it? One way is to consolidate rules. Although it seems ludicrous to have a rules limit of 32K (or even 256K), we've found that in almost all cases, it's possible to get the same thing done in less space. Look for commonality between your rules (for example, the folder they're filed in) and then combine rules using the shortest set of conditions.

It's a pain, but, well, it's a pain.