Navigation:  Add2Outlook Administration Guide >

Planning Contact Relationships

Print this Topic Previous pageReturn to chapter overviewNext page

With contact relationships, duplicate entries become a concern because many users will have the same contact information in their personal folders as each other or the public folders.  Before Add2Outlook was installed your group either:

•        Used personal contacts and contacts imported from the Global Address List.

•        Just used the public contact folder and not their private contact folders.

•        Some users used their own contacts and manually copied the entire public folder down to their private.

Add2Outlook does not make an effort to discover items in the destination folders that are potential duplicates of the source items.  For this reason, you need to make sure there are no potential duplicate items in your destination folders, as Add2Outlook will copy down all of the source items without regard to the existence of identical or similar records in the destination.

If you are trying to consolidate many users' personal contacts into one folder with a private-to-public relationship, often two users will have the same contact in both private contact folders. Creating a relationship from both users to one public folder will create duplicates – one from each user – and perhaps a third one which is already in the public folder.  Add2Outlook cannot recognize the manually copied items are actually the same and de-duplicate them before it synchronizes.  Add2Outlook assumes all items are originals.

To avoid copying users' private items in a private-to-public relationship, the first thing you would do is to mark as private any items in the private folders which we don't want synchronized.  The relationship Rule Do Not Copy Private Items should be checked to prevent synchronization of those items.

Many organizations want to consolidate contacts into a central folder by setting up with one public source to many private destinations and this is a great opportunity to do this. In this scenario, it is often best to make the Source a public folder and then synchronize items to the user's private contact (destination) folders, so it is easier to manage the source items.  In this scenario, the master copy of the items is in the public.

It is strongly advised to not set up a relationship and then remove duplicates AFTERWARDS because it is difficult to tell which item is the synchronized item.  You want the Add2Outlook synchronized items, not the manual copies, so it is best to delete your duplicates before you set up the relationship. If you delete the items after, the relationship delete trigger will fire which is impossible to undo (without a restore and do over) and often causes wasted time, frustration and unintended results.

Let's walk through the entire process with an example.  In this example, we have two users who each use a private contacts folder and a public folder and each folder contains duplicates of the other.  The duplicates without Add2Outlook are easy to get.  These duplicate records were made either by manually copying the contacts to and from the public folder or by adding an Outlook vCard all around the office. Sometimes almost everyone has the same contact entries in their private and public contact folders, but there may be a few more in one or another and one user's contact may even be more current than the same contact record of the other user.

Tip: Do all consolidation and de-duplication BEFORE you create a relationship!

With contact relationships, duplicate entries become a concern because your users may have the same contacts created in their personal folders as another user, or the same contacts as in the public folder contacts.  Add2Outlook does not make an effort to distinguish items in the "destination" folders which are potential duplicates of the "source" items.  For this reason, you need to make sure there are no potential duplicate items in your destination folders, as A2O will copy down all of the source items without regard to the existence of identical or similar records in the destination.  Prior to installing, there are a few ways to remove duplication or to avoid duplications on the initial sync.

Scenario:  Consolidating contacts into a single public folder and synchronizing to multiple personal folders.

The best way to do this is to export the contents of the individual users' folders to CSV files (Windows or DOS format).  Reimport each file into the same personal folder, choosing to allow Outlook to eliminate duplicate items for you.  Then copy the contents of this folder to an empty public folder.

You can also use third party products to de-duplicate such as Sperry Software's Duplicate Contacts Eliminator, available at:

At the end of the process, all the contacts are in the public folder.  Now, only the user's private contacts are in the desired destination folder.  We often suggest setting up a relationship to a new contact folder in the private user's mailbox or to make a backup contact of the original folder contents, (such as "old contacts") and then move all the old contacts for each user into their own personal old contacts folder  creating a relationship.  This way all of their old contacts are there for their convenience and can eventually be discarded or if private contacts are there, they can drag them into their default contacts and then mark them private.

At this point you will have an empty private contacts folder an old contacts folder and a public contacts folder filled with all the de-duplicated contacts. Now you can create the desired relationship from the public contact folder to a private contact folder.

In our example, each user wants to have all the company contacts from the public down to their private.  If anyone makes a new public contact, they want it be synchronized down to each private contact folder.  Continuing our example, if the users want any new contacts made in their private contact folders to be synchronized up to the public contact folder, the user would make the mutual of the first relationship – the second half of the mutual relationship - from private-to-public.

Tip: If you want all the private contacts made in one user's folder to go to another user's folder, you HAVE to make a private-to-private relationship for each of those users as well.

Why? Many users believe they can make a relationship and copy items from User 1 to a public folder and then make a relationship from the public to User 2 and that User 1's information will go to User 2. Add2Outlook will never copy a copy. If all User 1's items need to go to the public and User 2's folder, you will need to create at least two relationships: one from the source (User 1) to the public folder AND one from the source (User 1) to User 2's folder.

Since Add2Outlook will not copy a copy, each relationship must be built from the original source to the ultimate destination.  Therefore, if you want all contacts made in the public to synchronize to the private, and all those from the private to synchronize to the public and all items from the private to synchronize to all the other private users mailboxes, you need to create four relationships:

•        Relationship from the Private to the Public

•        Relationship from the Public to the Private

•        Relationship from User 1's Private to User 2's Private

•        Relationship from User 2's Private to User 1's Private



Before Add2Outlook, users may have manually copied items over to their destination folders and a contact item may be in several locations with varying degrees of "correctness".  With the addition of Add2Outlook technology, a consolidation and de-duplication process which should occur before an Add2Outlook relationship is made.  Once a relationship has been made when you close the Console, reply affirmatively to start the Add2Outlook service.

Tip: In testing, many people shorten the processing interval to 5 or 10 minutes.  Some people have even changed it to 1 second.  The Add2Outlook service cannot begin synchronizing again until the first synchronization cycle has completed.  An item in the Event Log will attest to this.  To test Add2Outlook, there is no need to modify the processing interval.  Regardless of the interval specified in the Console, 60 seconds after starting the Add2Outlook service, Add2Outlook starts synchronizing every active calendar relationship (if there are any), then 60 seconds after the last calendar relationship, the contact relationships synchronize (if any) and then 60 seconds after the last contact relationship, the task relationships synchronize.   After the last task relationship, Add2Outlook resumes the preset Intervals set within the Service Utility option.

After a complete synchronization cycle, Add2Outlook will synchronize to all destinations with valid active Add2Outlook relationships.  Edit one contact, and the change will synchronize to the other locations on the next processing interval or if you start and stop the Add2Outlook service.  Delete a source or destination and it will follow the specific rules of synchronization specified in the Add2Outlook relationship.

If at the start or during a synchronization cycle the Exchange Server is unavailable, Add2Outlook waits until Exchange is available, automatically starts, synchronizes and then waits until the next processing interval to synchronize again.  If you open the Console, the Add2Outlook service automatically stops at whatever relationship it was processing.  When the user exits the Console, the user is prompted to start the Add2Outlook service.  When the Add2Outlook service starts, it begins synchronizing at the beginning of the relationship list, starting at the first relationship again, Add2Outlook does not continue synchronizing the relationship where the system left off when the Add2Outlook service was previously stopped.