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Associate OST file with another Outlook profile

Posted on 2008-10-07
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Last Modified: 2010-10-05
I have an Outlook 2007 user that has a large OST file (1.7GB).

Well he went out and bought a new laptop, which means I need to setup a new Outlook profile for him on his new laptop and resync 1.7GB of data.

I want to transfer his OST file from his old laptop to his new laptop (without resynching and having to download 1.7GB of data).  Can it be done?

I understand the following:

The OST is tied to the Outlook profile and mailbox.

MIcrosoft has tied this security feature into these OST files and now my IT staff always has to download and resynch the data from the User's mailbox. I'm tired of this.

Anyway, I know I can solve the problem (by not using OST files), but that is not what I'm looking for.

I'm tired of downloading/synching large OST files everytime one of my executives changes hardware.

Thanks, Nihilator
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Question by:nihilator
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by:sciphre
ID: 22661816
I usually just create a new profile on the new computer, then overwrite the ost and oab files with the old ones before firing up Outlook. YMMV.


Here's the definitive reference:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/872930/en-us

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Author Comment

by:nihilator
ID: 22669223
I thought you could not do that. Aren't the OST and OAB files linked to a specific Outlook profile?  If I create a new profile on a new laptop, and then copy over the OST and OAB files from the old laptop, isn't Outlook going to throw errors when I go open it?

Thanks, Nihilator
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by:sciphre
ID: 22669544
The OST is linked to a mailbox state, not to a profile.
If you copy the same OST to a different computer the old copy will stop working after you synchronize Outlook the first time on the new one, as the versions will mismatch.
If i recall correctly, this is because Exchange actually generates a crypto key from the version info, or a magic string within it, without which the ost can't be decoded.

If you want both computers to continue working you'll need to synchronize a new OST at the remote site and ship it in or download it overnight for use in the laptop, using the procedure i mentioned above - just create a new profile from Control Panel > Mail and then copy the ost over before firing up outlook.
I think doesn't even need to be done in that order, as long as you fire up Outlook last - but if you want to be certain, copy the ost over FIRST, as the document i linked above describes.
Step 2: Client Workstation

1.	Log on to the client workstation as the user.

2.	Copy the files that you created in the "Step 1: Administrator workstation" section to the client system in the target directory on the workstation. For example, copy the files to the following folder:

\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\

3.	Configure an Outlook profile for the user. To do this, click the Mail icon in Control Panel, and then click Show Profiles. When you create the Outlook profile, click More Settings in the Exchange Server Account window of the E-mail Account wizard, click the Advanced tab, and then click Offline Folder Settings. Make sure that your path of your offline files is correct and pointing to the correctly named file.

4.	Click OK to return to the E-mail Account wizard, and verify that Cached Exchange Mode option is enabled. Make sure that this step is completed by clicking OK after confirming the location of the .ost file.

5.	Finish creating the profile, and then log on to Outlook.

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Author Comment

by:nihilator
ID: 22670063
I understood the first paragraph, but i'm not understanding the rest of what your trying to convey. I am trying to be "simple" with my explanations of the issue. I stated "old laptop" and "new laptop" in my scenario. Your not doing the same so I don't know how to decipher your explanation/resolution to the problem. Your talking about "remote sites, etc. How am I suppose to know what you mean by that? In your mind, what laptop are you talking about in regards to a "remote site" Are you talking about "the old laptop" or the "new laptop"?

This has become more confusing then it should be.

If I move an OST from an old laptop to the new laptop, I have found that I receive a mismatch" error. What did I do wrong?

Let's just start over (at the beginning) with my original question and use "old laptop" and "new laptop" as the references when trying to tell me how to resolve the mismatch error that I am receiving.

Thanks, Nihilator
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Author Comment

by:nihilator
ID: 22670212
It's been a while since I tried copying an OST from the old laptop to a new laptop, but when I tried it, I think I received the mismatch error you stated (above).

All I remember is that I copied the OST from the old laptop to the new laptop. I opened Outlook and Outlook threw an error (wish I would of wrote it down). Outlook wouldn't accept the (copied) OST file from the old laptop to the new laptop.

Thanks, Nihilator
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Author Comment

by:nihilator
ID: 22670260
Also, it was an OST path error that Outlook reponded with. I think it was a mismatch error. I remember thinking that Outlook was complaing because I copied an OST file from the old laptop to an Outlook profile on the new laptop, and it just refused to accept it.
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Accepted Solution

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sciphre earned 125 total points
ID: 22672717
OK, simple and to the point:

The theory:
Outlook has a key for the OST file from your Exchange server. This key, is based on the user's Exchange Mailbox Profile, not on the local Outlook Profile.
This key gets changed every now and then, invalidating old .OSTs.
Each Mailbox may have more than one key, if you have configured more than one computer to access it - this way the computers will not invalidate each other's files.

The practice - I've changed this a bit from my previous messages as this will be slightly simpler and is the procedure I use:
Step 1) set up the NEW LAPTOP
Step 2) Create an Outlook Profile on the NEW LAPTOP
Step 3) Run Outlook and let it connect to Exchange. When it's finished doing initial set-up of the mailbox and starts downloading messages close it.
Step 4) Verify in Task Manager that Outlook is not running. End Process if it is, you're overwriting it's files anyway.
Step 5) close Outlook on the OLD LAPTOP
Step 6) Copy the .ost and .oab files from the OLD LAPTOP to the NEW LAPTOP and OVERWRITE the new files Outlook had created
Step 7) Fire up Outlook on the NEW LAPTOP and bask in it's glory
Step 8) you can now start Outlook on the OLD LAPTOP again if you want to

Extra information:
The following is something I've read somewhere at some point in time, but I can't verify it now:
Exchange changes the key sometimes when Outlook is connected to it. Therefore, if you want to move an OST from one place to another, there is a single limitation: do not run Outlook on the OLD LAPTOP after you have copied the OST from it.
This also means you can't use an old backup of an OST - you need to use the latest version you have on the OLD LAPTOP.

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