1. Error message that reads: “Cannot open your default e-mail folders. The information store could not be opened.”

This issue can be fixed by first locating Outlook.exe that can be found here: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12.

Next, right click Outlook.exe and then click on Properties.

On the Compatibility tab, clear the check box that reads ‘Run this program in compatibility mode’. Then click Ok and restart Outlook.

2. Error message that reads: “Your Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable.”

This error is a bit trickier to resolve only because there can be many different causes.

No data connection – test your SMTP connection using telnet. If you are unsure how to do this, Microsoft has provided a guide on their TechNet site that walks you through this process: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb123686.aspx.

Office Outlook files are locked – there are times when .ost and .pst files are accidentally, or purposefully, set to read only. Check the permissions of these two files by navigating to:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\ for .pst files and C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\ for .ost files. Make sure that neither is set to read only.

Third party applications are interfering with Outlook – many programs, including anti-malware solutions, can interfere with Outlook connecting to the Exchange Server. To check to see if this is the cause, start Outlook in safe mode.

Outlook files are corrupted – this can happen after an upgrade is applied to Outlook. If any of the .dat files listed below are present they should be deleted or renamed.

  • Extend.dat – Located in C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\
  • Frmcache.dat – Located in C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Microsoft\Forms\
  • Views.dat – Located in C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\
  • Outcmd.dat – Located in C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\

All the files, with the exception of Outcmd.dat will be re-created. The Outcmd.dat file saves customized toolbar settings so if it is removed these settings will have to be re-applied.

3. Office Outlook will not open personal folders or personal folders do not show up in Outlook.

Personal folders are often the root of many problems related to Outlook. Microsoft has published the Inbox Repair tool, Scanpst.exe, that can be used to scan .pst and .ost files for errors in the file structure. If this is not intact, it will reset the file structure and rebuild the headers.

This tool will only work on the files that reside on your computer’s hard drive, not the files on the Microsoft Exchange Server.

This will also help to resolve the error message: “Cannot open your default e-mail folder. The file c:\users\owner\documents\software info\outlook.pst is not a personal folders file”.

4. Error messages that read either: “The action cannot be completed. The connection to the Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable. Your network adapter does not have a default gateway” or “Your Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable”.

This error occurs when Outlook is unsure of the default gateway address. The former is the error message that shows when the Outlook profile is configured automatically and the latter appears when the profile is manually configured. Both have the same fix.

To repair this you will need to edit the registry so clicking on Start and then Run is necessary. Then, enter regedit in the Open box and click OK.

Next, navigate to the registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\RPC. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.  Type DefConnectOpts, and then press ENTER. Now, right-click DefConnectOpts, and then click Modify. In the Value data box, type 0, and then click OK.

5. None of the authentication methods supported by this client are supported by your server.

This happens to people when they use their computer in multiple locations. For example, a laptop is taken home and connected to the home network or perhaps a computer is taken on the road. Basically, it comes from authentication rules for the SMTP server.

When this error occurs go to the Account Settings tab and click on Change then More Settings. Now select the Outgoing Server tab.

The option that reads: “My outgoing server requires authentication” and the one that reads: “Log on to incoming mail server before sending mail” should both be looked at. If there is a check in the option box remove it.

6. Scan PST

Those PST files will inevitably develop errors. When they do, they can prevent Outlook from working properly. When Outlook is starting to fuss, one of the first things I do is run scanpst.exe against each PST file used within Outlook. But be warned: Scan PST can take some time to run. It has to back up your data file, scan for errors, and repair any errors found. If the data file is large, this process can take quite some time. To run Scan PST, you’ll need to locate the scanpst.exe executable. (Its location will depend upon the version of Windows being used.)

7. Archive

Although not really a troubleshooting tip per se, there are times when a PST file will grow so large it causes problems with Outlook. Instead of letting that PST continue to get unwieldy, it’s best to set up archiving. When the data file has reached the excess of users’ allocated space, I always encourage them to archive by year. This method ensures that they will be archiving the largest amount of data to their local directory (thereby clearing up space on the server). This will also shrink the PST and alleviate issues associated with a too-large PST. After this is done, I recommend running Scan PST.

8. Rename OST

If users take advantage of a locally cached data file, sometimes renaming their current OST file is enough to resolve plenty of issues. Just close Outlook, open the folder that houses their data files, make sure you can see extension names, and change the .ost extension to something like .old. The next time Outlook opens, it will rebuild that .ost file and Outlook should be good as new.

9. Delete/rebuild profile

When all else fails (just shy of an uninstall/reinstall), delete the Outlook profile. Now you need to use caution with this. If Outlook is working with a POP account, the current Inbox (and calendars, etc.) will need to be exported as a data file (which can then be reimported after the POP account is re-created). If Outlook is connecting to either an Exchange server or IMAP account, this process is just a matter of deleting the profile and re-adding it. To do this, open the Control Panel, go to Mail | Profiles, and delete the profile.

5. Disable add-ons

The more add-ons that are connected to Outlook, the slower it becomes. If you have any doubt, start Outlook in safe mode (issue the command outlook.exe /safe) and see how much faster (and smoother) Outlook runs. If you find this to be the case, go into the Trust center, disable suspect add-ons, and restart Outlook normally. You’ll know when you’ve found the culprit, as Outlook should run normally. This is a tedious exercise, but one that will generally bear fruit.

10. Disable virus scan

Many antivirus tools have an Outlook connector that scans emails as they come and go from a system. In some cases, this can slow Outlook to a crawl. If you’re unsure where an Outlook issue is stemming from, temporarily disable the antivirus Outlook connection to see whether that solves the issue. If it does, you might need to update the antivirus software to fix the problem. Just remember, if you leave that connection broken, Outlook will be vulnerable.

11. Run in safe mode

As I mentioned before, running outlook in safe mode is a good way to troubleshoot. The one caveat is that a number of features will not work. This obviously means that running in safe mode is not a solution for a problem — just a way to help debug it. Sometimes, just the act of running Outlook in safe mode will resolve the problem at hand.

12. Run with resetnav

When you issue the command outlook.exe /resetnavpane, you reset all customizations to Outlook’s navigation pane (the left pane, with the folder hierarchy and app buttons). This is necessary when users have done something to the navigation pane (something they don’t remember doing) that causes Outlook to malfunction or have problems starting. Note that users will lose any customizations that have made to the navigation pane.

13. Migrate PSTs from the server

I’ve seen this happen so often. A user will have unusually large PST files (especially archives) housed on a shared (or redirected) drive on a server. Those files are best served from the local drive. If you have more than one PST file having to connect to a remote location, chances are Outlook is going to bog down. Move those archives to the C drive of the local machine to improve performance.

14. Adjust calendar permissions

If someone sends an invitation for others to use his or her calendar, but they can’t make or edit appointments, you need to change their permissions. Open the calendar in Outlook, right-click the shared calendar, click Properties, and then go to the Permissions tab. There, you can add users to the calendar and give them specific permissions that will allow them to do anything from reading to owning the calendar.

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