Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Troubleshooting Outlook Issues Smartly: Helpful Tips

In the world of desktop email clients, Microsoft Outlook has definitely left a trademark. Starting with a normal emailing application to being the choice of business professionals, its improvements have given a hard time to its competitors in the market like IBM, Mozilla, or Apple. By far, different versions of this messaging platform are introduced to users and its qualities have grabbed a large share of market towards it.
Configuration:
1) IMAP/POP3: MS Outlook can be configured with any POP3 or IMAP email account and the mailbox database can be accessed through PST file that gets saved on hard disk. Location of this data file varies according to version of Outlook and Windows used.
2) Exchange Server: The biggest advantage of this application for businesses is its configuration with Exchange Server that gives an in-house messaging platform. While the database on Server gets saved in EDB file, an OST file in Outlook acts as a medium to open, access, and manage a user-account on Server.
Data Files:
As mentioned in the above section, there are two types of data files that get created in Outlook depending upon their configuration: PST and OST. Further, these two files are categorized as ANSI and Unicode PST/OST files.
• While the ANSI type of file gives source to store around 2GB database, the Unicode file has the advantage of holding up to data in terabytes (according to size limits).
• ANSI Outlook files were created in Outlook 2002 and lower editions while Unicode type files get created in Outlook 2003 and above editions.
Troubles and Reasons:
Nothing on this space is perfect and so does this emailing application. It undergoes different types of troubles which could be due to human mistakes, application fault, or mishandling of data files. For example:
  • Email Send/Receive Problem: If a user is unable to send or receive an email, there could be reasons like Outlook message stuck in Outbox, improper SMTP authentication, add-ins causing hindrance, incorrect configuration of application (especially when done manually) etc.

  • Incorrect Settings of Outlook: Incorrect settings can lead to issues like duplicate emails (multiple rules set for incoming emails), authentication errors (wrong Server port number), Outlook in offline mode etc.

  • Corruption of Data Files: Oversized PST or OST file results in corruption of data files. In addition to this, just like any normal file on hard disk, this file has threat of getting corrupted due to reasons like virus attack, improper exit from application, changes in file structure (example: processing it with hex editor) etc makes data files corrupt.

  • Deletion of Emails or Other Items: Accidental or intentional deletion of items can cause a loss to users and when items are permanently deleted, they give a hard time at restoration. However, when it is about recovering permanently deleted Outlook emails, it is possible by making some efforts until PST file is compacted.
Free Tools to Troubleshoot:
  • Scapst.exe/Inbox Repair Tool: Different approaches can be made for troubleshooting Outlook issues and errors. There is a built in free solution called Inbox Repair tool by Microsoft that helps to fix problems related to PST file structure and rebuilds it.

  • Scanost.exe/OST Integrity Checker: This tool helps to check OST file synchronization issues with Exchange Server. To run the tool, connection with client and Server should be healthy.

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