Outlook Email Troubleshooting

by Robert Karr

PST Files

A fairly common occurrence is the corruption of a personal folder file (PST). There is an easy fix, but it is hidden. Use the repair program by clicking on “Start,” “Run,” and then navigating to the Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office12 folder in which you should find a program named scanpst.exe. When this program loads, there will be an option to browse and find the particular PST file needing repair. Warning: With a large PST file, repair may take quite a while.

Custom View Problems

Outlook has multiple ways to create and name custom views. While this can be very helpful, sometimes in an excess of eagerness to customize, you may find some fields end up missing from your new views. Restore these by selecting ”View,” “Current View,” “Define Views.” Only the default views will be visible. Select the ones you want to restore and click on “Reset.”


When Outlook stops responding, it may be due to several causes. A most common cause is attempting to interact with Outlook while it is downloading email. Keep your hands away from the keyboard or mouse until Outlook finishes loading and downloading. Other reasons for slow or halting performance include a very large Personal Folder File. Keep this under 2 GB by frequent archiving. With fast hard disks and lots of RAM, you can go up to 4 GB before really noticing problems. Lots of add-ins, antivirus software, and desktop search indexing also can slow down operation.

Download Issues

You may find that downloading larger emails (2 Mb or larger) takes an extremely long time or times out, even on a high-speed Internet connection. This can happen if you are using Windows Vista and a network device does not allow TCP Window Scaling. Microsoft has a wizard to fix this, or you do it manually with these steps: Click “Start,” “All Programs,” Accessories.” Right click the “Command Prompt” and select Run as Administrator. When the screen clears and you are at the command prompt, type “netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled.” Close out all windows; restart the PC, and then Outlook. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then things get more complicated and it is better to go a Microsoft Knowledge Base article, #935400 on the Microsoft Support pages.

General Troubleshooting

Microsoft has hundreds of Outlook problem troubleshooting tips on its support pages that are far too complicated to describe in one article. Visit the site listed in Additional Resources for more tips.

About the Author

Robert Karr has been a writer, indexer, reference librarian, computer programmer and Web designer. He has a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Karr has 30 years experience in reference and research and has been writing professionally for 25 years, focusing on the library, medical and computer areas.

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