Outlook Synchronizing Folders - What is it?

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Please don't bother to respond to this post unless you know EXACTLY what Outlook is doing when it is Synchronizing Folders and are either willing and capable of explaining it clearly or can lead us to a source that can. This forum seems to be loaded with threads that have been stopped cold by well meaning (perhaps smarta-- or uninformed?) responders who assume that the questioner already knows what it is.
A simple search of this forum (or Google) will show that there is a genuine need for basic information about the subject.

1. What exactly is Outlook doing when it is Synchronizing Folders??

2. Under what circumstances is it needed?

3. If there are circumstances when it is not needed, how do you turn it off in Outlook 2010, 2007, and 2003?

4. Why does searching Help in Outlook or Office not explain what it is? Is this something that developers have overlooked or are every reasonable person and my grandmother supposed to intuitively know what it is?


Synchronising normally occurs when the email account type is NOT POP, ie it's IMAP or Exchange.

Here's a page on POP andhere's a page on IMAP.

Email accounts other than POP tend to MIRROR the folders on the mail server rather than downloading and deleting from, the mail server Inbox, hence the need to synchronise rather than to just download.


I have 5 POP accounts and 2 IMAP accounts that my Windows 7/Outlook 2010 client checks. When I hit "Send/Receive," Outlook "Synchronizes subscribed folders" for each IMAP account.

But does Outlook synchronize folders for some reason at times other than the designated Send/Receive time (every 10 minutes in my case)? I'm not having a problem with it at this time - I now have so much computing power that I probably wouldn't notice if I did - just trying to understand it.

Also, I've only had IMAP accounts for the last year. Before that my client was Outlook 2007 running under XP Pro and my system regularly slowed to a crawl for long periods while Outlook said it was "Synchronizing Folders." I had 7 or 8 POP accounts at the time but no IMAP accounts. Most of the email server/providers were PureHost, one was Coolhandle, and one swbell.net. So what was it "Synchronizing" if there were no IMAP accounts?

Thanks for weighing in on this for me, Gordon.
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