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What is autodiscover service in Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010?

A New feature in Exchange Server 2007 and later versions of Exchange server which makes it much simpler and easier to configure the Outlook profiles if you have Exchange 2007 organization. The AutoDiscover service is provided by the Client Access Server (CAS) role, which is the server role that replaces the front-end server we know from Exchange 2000 and 2003. So in order to make use of the new AutoConnect feature the requirement is that you have at least one Exchange 2007 Server, with the CAS role installed. Autodiscover only works with Outlook 2007 and later versions.

What autodiscover service really does? 

Autodiscover service does the following:
  • Automatically configures user profile settings for Outlook clients starting from 2007 and later versions,
  • Does the same thing for mobile phones, while most of the laterst mobile device has autodisocver functionalilty, howver one should check mobile phone documentation to see if it’s supported.
  • Provides access to Exchange features like Availibility, Offline Address Book, Out of office assistance, automapping of shared mailbox and other features.
  • Uses a user’s email address and password to provide profile settings on outlook 2007, outlook 2010, outlook 2013, outlook 2016 and supported mobilde devices. If the Outlook client is joined to a domain, the user’s domain account is used to authenticate and user can access exchange features without password prompts.

How does the Autodiscover Works?

In a Exchange 2007 server and later versions of Exchange server environments, when a Client Access server is Installed, a virtual directory named “Autodiscover” gets created in IIS under the DWS (default web site) which handles all the request for Autodisover service.
CAS server installation also creates an Active Directory object called “service connection point (SCP)”. This object is mainly for internal Autodiscover connectivity. SCP object contains mainly two things a service binding information and keyword. A service binding information is nothing but autdiscover URL and keyword refers to site in which the CAS server is installed.
SCP URL can be checked using ADSIEdit and Powershell command
Using Powershell, run the following command.

Using ADSIEdit
  • Open adsiedit.msc using RUN prompt
  • Connect to the Configuration context
  • Navigate to Configuration → Services → Microsoft Exchange → (OrgName)→Administrative Groups→(Your Administrative Group Name)→Servers→(Server Name)→Protocols→Autodiscover

So, now a question arises is whether Autodiscover connects differently internal and externally.
The answer to this question is, yes there is a difference between internal and external autodiscover connectivty which we will discuss in next part of this article, but remember one thing by “internal” it means only domain joined clinets, so logically a workgroup computer in internal network is also treated as a external clinet for autodiscover connectivity.
Difference between internal and external autodiscover connectivity
Internal : As mentioned earlier, CAS installation creates a SCP object which is accessed by the Outlook client in order to connect Autodsicover virtual directory. By default the URL is set to the FQDN of the cas server and it can be changes as per the certificate requirement
External : When Non-Domain joined Outlook clinet tries to connect using Autodiscover it connect in following order, it upto the administrators to cofigure the autodiscover record and certicifate on the Exchange server as per the organizatioal requirements

First Step : https://<smtp-address-domain>/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml

Second Method : https://autodiscover.<smtp-address-domain>/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml

Third Method : http://autodiscover.<smtp-address-domain>/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml

Fourth Method : Autodiscer SRV lookup

How to check if the Autodisccover is working?
Press CTRL Key+Right-click on outlook application icon in system tray.
Type your email and password. Check Use AutoDiscover option. Click Test button
To learn more about Autodiscover from Microsoft offcial link  : Click here
Mohammed Yusuf
An IT System Administrator and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) with 10+ years of experience, has good ability to solve tech issues of various platforms, apart from that he is a passionate blogger and love to write on varied topics of technology.

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