There’s nothing more annoying than… Your email not working right. Outlook 2007 in this case.
Seriously, there’s a lot of things more annoying than your email not working right: computer not booting at all, an unexpected computer shutdown that hammers your last hour or three of work, the girlfriend deciding you need to go walk the dog while you’re in the middle of an elaborate programming project (or sleeping)… Yeah, there’s a few things more annoying than your email…
BUT, nonetheless, that is what greeted me when I woke up this am all ready to get down to brass tacks and kick off my week at 4 am today. Actually what REALLY greeted me was a black screen telling me that I needed to help the computer find a boot drive as it apparently had decided to arbitrarily reboot – never a good sign. That is sort of a scary message under any circumstances, however, this particular machine has a habit of doing that every once in a while. While the average person may think that every computer geek’s computer runs like a top – think again. Most of the computers that I have had in the past, and even now, have some sort of glitch that I work around. And that happens to be one I can live with. Annoying, but live-able. I digress..
So after I got through the little boot issue, I went to launch my Outlook. And things didn’t quite go as planned. Got messages about couldn’t execute sorting/filtering because Outlook couldn’t access a target folder for some of my rules. If you have any sort of email traffic, it’s a lot easier if you create Outlook rules to sort it when it comes in. When they don’t work right though, as in this case, it can be a problem.
So, I clicked on one of the items to see if there was some sort of issue with the email itself and hmmm.. Outlook couldn’t display the message. The computer had just alerted me that there were a bunch of updates for Office on Saturday, and I installed all of them, so I had a feeling that might be part of this. Time to do a quick restore. No biggie.
Well, it shouldn’t have been. But then the computer couldn’t restore to an earlier time because, God forbid, Windows couldn’t apparently recreate some of the Internet Explorer temp files. That makes great sense – all sorts of system files, dll’s and all that but let’s nix the whole process because Restore couldn’t handle some idiotic jpg file most likely. Microsoft, you might just need a sanity check in there.
Okay, so back to the old drawing board. Probably should have tried this one first, scanpst.exe. A fine little utility for resolving issues in the PST file – that’s the big fat file that actually stores that email from Aunt Meg with her cat pictures – as well as all those PowerPoint presentations that you used for your biggest customer, the annoying emails from SEO companies in broken English that proclaim that we TOO could be at the top of every search term in Google for just $99 PER MONTH – WHAT a deal. Yeah, what a deal.
Regardless, I was going to need to get into my email again, so let’s do the whole scanpst thing. It’s usually located in your C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX folder. However, if you’re running a 32 bit version, look in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX folder. Double-click it.
Scanpst.exe will ask you where the file is that you want to check for errors. You will find this in a normally hidden folder. In Windows 7, you’ll want to go to in the toolbar (or you can do this in the control panel too under “Folders”) “Tools” => “Folder Options” => Go to the “View” tab and click “Show hidden files, folders and drives”. And then, you should be able to see the all-important AppData folder.
Drilldown into that folder a bit like this – C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and point scanpst.exe to the Outlook.pst file. And let it fly. You may get a message or two, but it’s pretty much a self-contained problem resolver without a whole lot of interaction. It’s going to likely tell you that it found problems and would you like to correct them? Tell it yes and let it fly. And let it make a backup. Always do a backup – just in case.
Whole process shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes or so when using the scanpst.exe. My outlook.pst is right at 2 GB so, that would likely be a worst case scenario… Then again if you have a dog slow computer, your mileage MAY vary.