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Avoid Outlook 2007 performance issues during repairs

Premature shut downs of Microsoft Outlook 2007 can lead to performance problems. Educating your users and downloading patches can help smooth out the reconciliation process.

A common problem with Microsoft Outlook 2007 is that the application can take too long to shut down. This, in turn, can lead to other problems. For example, if Outlook takes too long to shut down, an end user may assume his computer has locked up. The user will power down the computer before Outlook can shut down completely. Since the application terminated unexpectedly, it will need to perform a reconciliation process the next time it boots up.

This is also a problem because users can be impatient. If Outlook is running slowly after 10 or 15 minutes, many users will reboot their machines to fix the problem. However, if the repair process is interrupted midstream, it will have to restart the next time Outlook opens.

In some cases, a user may be forced to restart Outlook. Once it restarts, Outlook will run very slowly while.pst and .ost files are checked for errors. Depending on what types of issues are detected, Outlook may or may not allow the user to access data files during the repair process.

More on Outlook 2007:
Control Outlook 2007 in cached mode settings with group policies

Understanding Microsoft Outlook 2007 data file usage

Understand data file storage in Outlook 2007 Roaming and Local folders

During this type of failure, there's no status bar to show the progress of the repair operation. Instead, Outlook displays a gear icon in the status bar to indicate that a repair is underway. The gear icon disappears when the repair is complete, but many users may not notice the icon in the first place.

Resolving the issue

How do you avoid this issue? There's nothing you can do to completely eliminate the reconciliation process. If Outlook detects a potential problem with .pst or .ost files, it will automatically run the reconciliation process.

The best thing to do is to educate users. Explain that Outlook may take a while to shut down and that forcing a shut down leads to performance problems. You should also explain that if users receive a message indicating that Outlook has to execute a repair, it will affect performance. Assure them that if they wait long enough, Outlook performance will return to normal once the issue is repaired.

You can also install Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007 or the February 2009 cumulative update. Both of these patches contain code that modifies the reconciliation process. These updates will modify Outlook so that, if it is shut down during a repair, the reconciliation process is paused and resumes from that point the next time the user opens Outlook.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at

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Thanks for this article!

Ost reconciliation is a great way to waste everyone's time.

Below is the fastest way to resolve the issue:

Direct the affected user to close his/her Outlook.

Advise the user not to worry when Outlook next opens, with its "new instance" prompt.

Wait 15-30 seconds for Outlook to really close.

Delete the cached ost file.

Advise the user to open Outlook and that the most recent (read "urgent") emails will come down first, enabling them to get back to work right away.

That last piece is the very best design feature of Outlook.