Outlook 2k3 - multiple issues - data file checking, black reply screen, unable to move .msg files to other psts for storage

  • Thread starter ryanwhite
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1. often must spend a significant amount of time checking pst(s) for errors on start up

2. seems to be random, but multiple times per day will hit 'reply' or 'reply to all' or 'forward' etc to an email and it will come up with a black screen for the reply/new window. It's not hanging, just a regular window with minimize/resize/close buttons in the top right but the body part of the window is completely black. If I close the outlook window and open it back up the reply will work just fine... hit reply, comes up with the message, his signature and cursor in the correct place ready for the message to be typed. I asked if this happens with particular people but cannot seem to answer this. wrote down the names of people it happens on for the past month and it is not some specific subset of people.

3. Sometimes when he moves an email from the inbox into a different pst file for storage (see below) it comes up with a non-descript error saying action cannot be completed. I have not seen this error myself yet so I do not know yet if there is an error code related to it...have asked that he write down verbatim next time it happens.

What I have tried thus far:

1. Since his pst file was WAY too big (~25GB when I started here), The first thing I did was to create ~100 pst files, one for each of his major clients so that each pst file would be smallish (under 100MB for most of them which should be fine, but not necessarily long term stable). I was going to create like 10... one for each year and make subfolders for each specific contract that they enter into that year but this was not acceptable... wanted one for each client.

2. His computer was running ATIs Catalyst Control Centre as it's graphics driver which I read in multiple places is not friendly with Vista (kept hanging and bringing up dialog box saying it stopped working but windows had no automatic solution). I uninstalled that software & driver and forced vista to use a more generic display driver. That error stopped but apparently was not affecting the outlook issue.

3. emptied all recycle bins, deleted the deleted emails. Set it so that deleted emails would be emptied on exit (this alone was like 7GB of data the first time I did it)

4. Did all updates for windows, java, etc. If there was a program I forced an update for it.

5. Disabled addins (COM & general) - there were 3 total - one for AVG antivirus free, one for iTunes and one called exchange extension property details. removed the first two even though the antivirus one I didn't like doing. the third I had no idea what does so I did not mess with it.

6. Set up auto archiving every 2 weeks.

7. Ran disk cleanup and set defrag to occur once a week.

8. Ran pst file checks manually. did not return any errors.

9. when he does shut down to go mobile he was hitting 'x' and performing windows shutdown. read that outlook has big issues with closing. tried having him use file-->exit for a while. this did not help. then tried just not closing outlook ever and going straight for the windows shutdown. neither have successfully prevented errors.

10. forced outlook to rebuild extend.dat file (renamed extend.old)

11. Checked AVG antivirus for possible viruses that it hadn't moved to virus vault or deleted. Claimed that it was doing it's job and catching all it know about. Emptied virus vault.

12. Ran malwarebytes. Caught a couple on first run. Run it manually once a month or so (I manually update and check over all computers here in the evening once a month as people here seem to not do these general maintenance things...ever)

Things I have not tried but thought about trying:

1. Taking the hit and purchasing outlook 2k7 so that all office is on same version. Also thought just the upgrade might fix some file that is all messed up and not directly throwing out an error. honestly MS has made these programs stupidly expensive but that's a rant not relevant here.

2. buying him a new computer and going office space on this one. The time spent on this issue is not really worth it, but if this is a PEBCAK or IT issue then the new comp is going to get messed up in no time too and we will be back to square one and out $500.


Computer in question is a Toshiba Satellite L305D running windows Vista. Used to have MS word 2k3 and outlook 2k3. Purchased office 2k7 student & home edition so now has word, excel, powerpoint & onenote 2k7 but still running outlook 2k3.

This computer get's used for a small business in which TONS of emails get sent and received, many having 'very large' attachments (8 2MB pictures in one email? happens every day...). For the way this business runs sending these emails seems to be necessary, or at least I do not have another solution for them for funneling these large documents back and forth (set up separate shared folder on server so that we could send people ftp links instead of files, but giving other companies direct access to a HD with internal company info scares the owners). They also use it as long term storage which is also unfortunate. This user is the worst offender for this (had a 25GB pst file when I stepped in) and seems to be the only one having problems.

For a web/email server, they go through a site similar to go daddy as it's $5 a month. I am the closest thing they have to an IT professional (A+ certified, but that was when WinNT3.5 was the new hotness) and shoveling out $10k for a proper network to be purchased and installed is not possible. For a file server I banged together a computer from newegg parts, installed MS SBS 2k3 which they had already and set up a local shared HD. Every other week I back it up in full to a portable HD which I carry with me so that they have something resembling off site data protection. It's kinda ghetto for a business but is working just fine :)

In the past 5-6 months there have been multiple issues. He has been 'dealing' with it for some time and I try something a little different every time so not all the steps were not done in one sitting.


Do you have any third party utilities accessing the pst files, eg sync, desktop search

Have you tried atarting outlook using the safe switch to see if problems replicated

As a side note Office H&S is not licensed for business use

Ben M. Schorr [MVP]

100 PST files is not a very tenable solution, in my opinion. He'd be better off with 10 2.5GB PST files than 100 250MB PST files. Does he have all 100 PST files open at once in Outlook?

I definitely WOULD upgrade to Outlook 2007 and make sure to install SP2 for Office 2007 which makes some improvements to the data file structure.

Just as importantly I'd teach him (or get a 3rd party utility to help him) to strip out those big attachments and store them on the server. Outlook is NOT a good file storage medium; especially if it's bloating your PST files unreasonably.
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