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Outlook Bug - Outbox in Outlook 2003 Cached Mode does not synchronize with the Server

Posted on 2004-08-24
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Last Modified: 2010-05-18
This is about as final as we're going to get it.  

Credit can read:
Joel Foudy



Problem:  E-mails that reside in the Outbox are not synchronized with the Exchange server when in Cached Exchange Mode.

Here's the situation.  We are rolling out Outlook 2003 to our employees next month and we thought it would be nice to take advantage of Microsoft's new feature called cached exchange mode.  This will allow users to work on most outlook functions even if they are not connected to the exchange server.  When we installed Outlook 2003 on a few people we found out that when they turned cached mode on that they could not see all their postdated messages in the outbox.  What some of our users do is send e-mails to themselves or to other people and set the e-mail to not deliver until a certain date and time (a.k.a. postdated messages).  The postdated e-mails they sent in Outlook 2002 or Outlook 2003 online mode will not show up in Outlook 2003 while in cached mode.  

More Information on the bug:
If an e-mail is sent in online mode (non-cached) in Outlook 2003 with the option to deliver the message at a future date the following will happen:
 1.  The e-mail will be sent to the exchange server and reside in the outbox until it is to be delivered.  Once the time is reached the e-mail will be sent even if the client is not open.
 2.  The e-mail will not appear in the outbox if Outlook is switched to cached mode.

If the e-mail is sent in cached mode with Outlook 2003 and the option set to deliver the message at a future date to following will happen.  
 1.  The e-mail resides on the clients .ost file until it gets delivered
 2.  The e-mail will not be sent unless the Outlook client is opened in cached mode.
 3.  The e-mail will not appear in the outbox if Outlook is switched to online mode.
 4.  The e-mail will not appear in the outbox in the OWA client.

Our concerns are:
1.  We would like to have employees switched to used cached exchange mode to minimize the traffic to and from the exchange server, allow clients to have better response when the network is under heavy use, allow clients to work when not connected to the exchange server (the basic benefits of cached exchange mode).  Because employees have no way to see all items in their outbox they cannot delete or update when a message is set to be sent out.  The only workaround is to maintain postdated messages when in online mode.
2.  If a user is using cached mode to sent posted items the e-mail will not get sent unless the person has Outlook open.
3.  If a users .ost file gets corrupted and has to be deleted to correct the problem, then if an employee had items in the outbox in cached mode they would not be able to be recover unless the .ost was backed up.

Until this problem is fixed I don't believe we have a good enough alternative (workaround) other than to have employees use online mode.  This makes the whole cached exchange mode a useless feature to those who send a lot of postdated messages.

We have submitted this case to Microsoft.  The were able to reproduce the problem, but the design team claims that this is a "feature" and there "by design".  Yet when I talk to the support people they refer to it as a bug.  

Before Microsoft will address this issue in a hotfix or service pack they need to have a high enough feedback from companies who complain about it.  So if you are planning to use Cached Exchange Mode and your company sends e-mails that should be sent at a future date please send an e-mail to outwish@microsoft.com and fill out the form at http://register.microsoft.com/mswish/suggestion.asp to complain about this bug and request that they fix it.
The information in this article applies to:
Outlook 2003
Exchange 2000
Exchange 2003
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Question by:stormy2c
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by:
Wragge earned 500 total points
ID: 11890058
We too are experiencing problems working in Cached Mode.  We have a problem with Secretaries losing the access to their managers inbox folders and calendars.  SP1 is supposed to fix this problem, but we're not convinced.  We've put it on a few machines to test but the problem is intermittent so very difficult to get a true result from a pilot group.  We've reported it to Microsoft and got directed to the following article.

What to Avoid When Using Cached Exchange Mode
Because Outlook 2003 offers several ways to connect to Exchange Server 2003, some functions and features of Outlook 2003 do not necessarily work well with Cached Exchange Mode. The following sections describe which practices to avoid to achieve the best performance when using Outlook 2003.

Outlook 2003 Features
Some Outlook 2003 features reduce the effectiveness of Cached Exchange Mode because they require network access or bypass Cached Exchange Mode functionality. The primary benefit of using Cached Exchange Mode is that it shields the client from network and server connection issues. Features that rely on network access can cause delays in Outlook 2003 responsiveness, which information workers would not otherwise experience when using Cached Exchange Mode.

The following Outlook 2003 features rely on network access and can therefore cause delays in client performance when the connection to Exchange Server 2003 is slow:

            Delegate access

            Opening another information worker’s calendar or folder

            Using a public folder that has not been cached

Certain Outlook 2003 features such as looking up free/busy information also require network access to retrieve necessary information. This requirement can cause a delayed response even when information workers have fast connections to Exchange Server 2003 data. The delays can occur unpredictably rather than only when the feature is accessed.

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Expert Comment

by:tabush
ID: 13238902
I had this problem recently and linked it to problems with the Outlook Address Book. I fixed it by doing the following:
1. close outlook
2. open folder containing outlook OST files
(usually c:\documents and settings\%username%\local settings\application data\microsoft\outlook)
3. delete all files which end in .oab extension
4. open outlook
5. go to "tools" menu, "send/receive", select "download address book"

Then the Cached Mode sync worked perfectly!
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