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Query Based Distribution Groups - Exchange 2003

Query Based Distribution Groups


The purpose of this page is to add users to a special group.  Special, because this group is designed to be a distribution list.  Query Based Distribution Groups are easy to create.  Moreover compared with static groups, Query Based Distribution Groups produce an better result because the membership updates automatically. 

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Planning your Distribution Groups

Every email system needs a Distribution List.  The best way to create your distribution list in Windows Server 2003 is by using Active Directory's Query Based Distribution Groups.  The exciting idea is that you can use an LDAP query to populate the Group.  As you may know, in Exchange 2000 and later there are no Distribution Lists, instead you use Active Directories Groups.

Be aware that there are other vehicles for your distribution list: Global Groups which are Distribution rather than Security; Universal Distribution groups if you are a multi domain organization.

Switch Exchange to Native Mode

The prerequisite for Query Based Distribution Groups is that you switch Exchange 2003 into native mode.  This means that you cannot have any legacy Exchange 2000 servers in your organization.

When you make the switch to native mode, you are burning your boats, there is no way back to mixed mode.  When you are sure there are no old servers, then go to the Exchange 2003 Organization, Properties and select 'Change Mode' - see diagram opposite.

Creating the Query Based Distribution Group in Active Directory

Once you have switched to native mode, then add a new Query Based Distribution Groups just as you would create any other group or user, namely using Active Directory Users and Computers.

Creating Query Based Distribution Groups is satisfying not only for the result, but also because you can experiment with the LDAP filters to produce the desired membership.  The other rewarding dimension is that because the groups are created dynamically, they automatically update as and when you create or move users.

The Wizard will guide you through creating this special group.  As ever, you can right click and select properties to fine tune your new group.


It is so much easier to create your distribution group using this query method.  The bonus is the operating system updates the list automatically, that would not happen if you created a group with a script.


See Also

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Copyright Stephen Bryant 2008