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Exchange Calendaring Best Practices

On occasion, the Help Desk hears from users who have report Exchange or Outlook calendaring problems where some meetings or calendar appointments don't appear on one or more invitees' calendars, appointments/meetings have moved, duplicate calendar entries are appearing, etc. Similar issues have been reported in other organizations as well - particularly where there is a mix of Microsoft Exchange/Office 365, Outlook clients (for Windows), Outlook for Mac, Mac Mail/Calendar, Apple iPhones/iPads/iPods, and Android devices. Not surprisingly, the blame for the calendaring problems incurred is shared amongst the various software vendors and there is no one solution that fixes all. Instead the best approach is a mix of addressing how people use the Exchange system, the processes they use, and the devices/clients used when interacting with an Exchange calendar. The recommendations below are a summary of best practices to use to help minimize calendaring problems. More information and additional tips are available using the links provided in the Additional Exchange Calendaring Recommendations and Information section at the bottom of this post.

Exchange Calendaring Best Practices

  1. Do NOT use a mobile device to accept or decline meeting requests or to update meetings. Instead, manage your calendar exclusively from Outlook (Mac or PC) or Outlook Web App. It is ok to create new appointments on your calendar from your mobile device if you are simply adding an event on your mobile device where you are the only attendee and are not inviting others.
  2. Process all meeting requests and cancellations. You should process all meeting requests you receive by either accepting or declining the meeting from the e-mail that was generated and sent to you by the organizer when the meeting was created. Additionally, always use the 'Remove from Calendar' command (presented by a cancellation notice e-mail) to process meeting cancellations. Avoid processing meetings directly from the Calendar view.
  3. Make sure your mobile device has the latest OS/iOS version. In addition to keeping your mobile device updated with the last OS version and interim updates, be sure to check for updates when you obtain a new device and take that step BEFORE you add your Exchange account to the device.
  4. To the extent possible run the same version of Outlook on all computers within your department or area. The same applies to people who access their mailboxes from an Outlook client installed on a home PC. In addition to the same version of Outlook, Outlook clients should consistently be updated with the latest service pack and updates – thereby maintaining a consistent version level across all clients.
  5. Mailbox owners and any delegates (or people with "write" access to a shared calendar) should be using the same version of Outlook AND the same operating system platform – i.e. Windows or Mac OS. If that is not possible, try to identify who will primarily make changes to a shared calendar so that one person effectively updates and manages the calendar while the other person more or less uses the calendar in "read only" mode.
  6. Limit the number of delegates assigned. Users should avoid adding more than 4 delegates. Additionally, it is recommended that if multiple people are set as delegates that only 1 is granted Editor permissions.
  7. When scheduling a recurring meeting, set an applicable end date. We recommend that recurring meetings be scheduled out no more than 1 year – and less than that if the frequency of the meeting is more than once a week.
  8. To change an entire series of meetings or to make significant changes to an existing recurring meeting, update/set the end date to original meeting to the current date (to effectively end it) and create a new recurring meeting from scratch. Updating the end date of the existing meeting, keeps the "history" of the previous meeting on attendees' calendars, which is often desired. When updating the end date of the existing meeting, be sure to send the update to attendees so that future occurrences of the old meeting are removed from attendee calendars. Starting a new meeting from scratch decreases the amount of "exception" data that is stored by Exchange when recurring meetings are edited and thus helps to ensure a positive calendaring experience for end users.
  9. Avoid using a recurring meeting to share attachments. Attachments add to the complexity of how Exchange stores information for recurring meetings. The net result is that multiple copies of the attachment are created and stored within Exchange, which increases the likelihood of versioning problems or attachment updates not propagating to other instances of the meeting.

Additional Exchange Calendaring Recommendations and Information