How to Reset Virtual Directories and ECP on Exchange 2016?

This article describes how to recreate virtual directories OWA and ECP on Exchange 2016. The rebuilding of these virtual directories helps to reset all settings, recreate them from the scratch and can solve many Exchange problems related to the incorrect operation of OWA or ECP: various page errors, blank screen issues, permission problems, missing files, Outlook connectivity issues etc.

Let us remind you, that the virtual directories required to access Exchange from a web-based applications (such as Outlook Web App (OWA), Exchange Active Sync, Autodiscover). You can manage them in 3 places: EAC, EMS, IIS Manager. In Exchange 2016 Mailbox and Client Access roles are consolidated (separate CAS role was eliminated). Therefore, on the Mailbox server virtual directories are located in 2 different sites:

  • on a DefaultWebSite site (listening TCP ports 80, 443)
  • on a ExchangeBackEnd site (listening TCP ports 81, 444)

Recreate Virtual Ddirectories OWA and ECP

OWA and ECP virtual directories in the IIS Manager console look like this:

exchange 2016 reset virtual directories

You need to determine full name of the virtual directory on which the problems observed. To do this, start the Exchange Management Shell console and display a list of all OWA folders in the Exchange organization:


In our example, the name of the directory – owa (Default Web Site):

The same for ECP directory:


We are interested in the directory ecp (Default Web Site) on the server named EX2016.

recreate owa virtual directory exchange 2016

Display and remember the virtual directory setting (ExternalURL, InternalURL, authentication settings):

Get-OwaVirtualDirectory “ex2016\owa (Default Web Site)”|select-object InternalUrl, ExternalUrl, BasicAuthentication,WindowsAuthentication,DigestAuthentication, FormsAuthentication

Get-EcpVirtualDirectory “ex2016\ecp (Default Web Site)”|select-object InternalUrl, ExternalUrl, BasicAuthentication,WindowsAuthentication,DigestAuthentication, FormsAuthentication


Delete the OWA directory on the server ex2016:

Remove-OwaVirtualDirectory “ex2016\owa (Default Web Site)”

Create a new OWA directory:

New-OwaVirtualDirectory  -InternalUrl “https://mail.contoso.local/owa” -ExternalUrl “https://mail.contoso.local/owa”


Now delete and recreate virtual directory ECP in similar way:

Remove-EcpVirtualDirectory -Identity “ex2016\ecp (Default Web Site)”

New-EcpVirtualDirectory  -InternalUrl “https://mail.contoso.local/ecp” -ExternalUrl  “https://mail.contoso.local/ecp”

recreate ecp virtual directory

In some cases it is also useful to recreate OWA and ECP on the Exchange Back End site:

remove-WebApplication -Site "Exchange Back End" -Name owa

remove-WebApplication -Site "Exchange Back End" -Name ecp

New-WebApplication -Site "Exchange Back End" -Name owa -PhysicalPath "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\ClientAccess\owa" -ApplicationPool MSExchangeOWAAppPool

New-WebApplication -Site "Exchange Back End" -Name ecp -PhysicalPath "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\ClientAccess\ecp" -ApplicationPool MSExchangeECPAppPool

In the same way you can reset all other virtual directories on Exchange 2016, for example OAB, EWS and Autodiscover.

Cyril Kardashevsky


    After fighting this for days this is the only solution that worked in my environment.
    Following the steps, it took me about 5 minutes to solve my issue.
    Don’t forget to change “ex2016\owa (Default Web Site)” to “your-server-name\owa (Default Web Site)”

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