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7/8/2013
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6 Office 365 Power Tips

Cloud services require reliable connections, visibility and other crucial factors for success. Use these tools to improve your Office 365 experience.

Google Apps To Microsoft Office 365: 10 Lessons
Google Apps To Microsoft Office 365: 10 Lessons
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4. Hybrid Troubleshooter

Things begin to get more specific -- and potentially more complicated -- with tools four through six, Mosman said. This one troubleshoots potential problems in environments that run both on-premises Exchange servers and Office 365 mailboxes. "This is for larger companies if they are doing a hybrid configuration," Mosman said. In particular, it helps ensure that cloud users can see free/busy information for on-premises users and vice versa.

5. Scan for Problems in Microsoft Outlook

This downloadable tool scans your Outlook profile for potential issues and/or recommendations for optimization. While not specific to Office 365, Mosman notes that power users can occasionally uncover obscure settings that might interfere with or otherwise cause headaches in connecting Outlook and Office 365.

6. Microsoft Online Services Diagnostics and Logging (MOSDAL) Support Toolkit

If you want to supersize your internal support levels, you might as well use what Microsoft uses. "Microsoft Support uses this tool all day long," Mosman said. The downloadable toolkit collects log files, registry keys and configuration settings that otherwise are time-consuming to keep up with. In fact, it collects so much data that Mosman half-joked that "run MOSDAL" is Microsoft Support's go-to stall tactic if it doesn't immediately know the answer to a question. "They say 'run this' because it spits out so much information."

[ Should you upgrade to Windows 8.1? Read Windows 8.1: 4 Upgrade Questions For SMBs. ]

That info gets technical in a hurry, Mosman said, but that makes it useful for IT pros with the requisite know-how. "It's useful to see exactly how the system is configured, what patches are installed, all of the network settings," Mosman said. "It's just a big dump of all this data."

RIP: Office 365 Speed Test

Alas, Microsoft recently mothballed another of Mosman's favorite tools, the Office 365 Speed Test. Akin to free Internet connection tests like speedtest.net, the tool offered detailed technical data -- latency, quality of service, number hops -- on connectivity to the nearest Microsoft data center, be it in Blue Ridge, Va., Dublin, Ireland, or elsewhere in the world. But the tool was built specifically for former BPOS customers migrating to Office 365 and was shut down after BPOS went bye-bye.

You can still use free tools like speedtest.net, though they don't often contain the same level of information that Microsoft's own tool did -- Mosman said the Office 365 Speed Test was "like those sites on steroids."

Yet slow connection speeds and other network issues can be a killer for companies that rely heavily on cloud applications. A common first step is to turn to your ISP for troubleshooting or upgrade options. A second step is too look inward for possible "bad behavior" inside your company that might be bogging down your network.

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