How to redirect OWA HTTP to HTTPS (the actually easy way that works)

 

With SBS 2008, if try to open Outlook Web Access at http://remote.example.com/owa, you’ll get “Error 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied…”, because SSL is required in IIS.   The proper URL is https://remote.example.com/owa, but most users don’t remember that little “s”.

 

 

As a note, SBS 2011 already redirects this for you.  But if you’re stuck with SBS 2008, there are tons of articles that show how to automatically redirect users :

 

Microsoft has 4 different articles on the topic, but the forums are still covered with it.  The solutions vary on a few themes:

  • Redirect in IIS on the Default website (doesn’t work since that site doesn’t actually answer those HTTP requests in SBS).
  • Disable Require SSL, and edit OWA’s default.aspx to Response.Redirect (doesn’t work because it’s precompiled and handled by DLL).
  • Set a redirect or custom 403 page on the actual OWA directory to a custom SSLRedirect.html with a Meta redirect (might work, but clunky & straight outta 1998!)

Other solutions either forget you can’t get past “Require SSL” to reach the redirect, or they don’t know you’ve already been redirected (creating an infinite redirect loop and “Too many Redirects” error).

 

I think I have a much simpler solution — Just set the OWA directory’s 403 error to redirect to the right URL.  Here’s how:

  1. Start the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager snap-in.
  2. Expand the local computer, expand Sites, and then click SBS Web Applications.
  3. At the bottom of the SBS Web Applications Home pane, click Features View if this option is not already selected.
  4. In the IIS section, double-click Error Pages, and double-click 403 in the list.
  5. In the Edit Custom Error Page dialog, select Respond with a 302 redirect.
  6. Type the Absolute URL of the /owa virtual directory. For example, type https://mail.contoso.com/owa.

 

OWA’s Error Pages list should look like this when you’re done:

image

 

Hope it helps someone.

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3 Responses to How to redirect OWA HTTP to HTTPS (the actually easy way that works)

  1. RzkJr says:

    hi Rob, This is ridiculously simple 😀

    I just got done with the HTTP redirect method.

    Its working fine as for now so i would not be making any changes but next time i set up exchange i would surely be getting this done your way.

    • Rob Eberhardt says:

      Glad it helped. I’ve now got some similar tricks for migrating to Office 365. Maybe I’ll write those up too :)

  2. chris says:

    Worked great. Thanks very much!

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