Outlook 2003 Profile Corruption

Posted on 2009-02-15
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I use Outlook on two machines, desktop and laptop, and copy the Outlook data file as a whole between the machines as needed, perhaps 3 times per week.
I use a high speed USB direct network connection and the copy takes about 2 minutes.

Frequently I get corrupt profiles.

My outlook file is hefty, about 1Gb , and I have multiple Contacts sub folders.
The main annoying sympton of corruption is is that the Contact sub folders
get disconnected as Outlook address books.
It is not just a question of reconnecting them, they then appear twice in the drop down list of address books when I want to send a message.
Sometime they appear 3 times.
But only one of each folder name in the drop down list works.

So every so often I delete the profile and recreate it.
Then all works well for a while.

Today I have built a script, using samples from this forum, that sets all the Contacts sub folders to being address books.  So that removes one chore in creating a new profile.

But I would like to solve the problem that causes the profile corrruption .

Any ideas?

Question by:AnsaSeeker
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    Are you connecting to an exchange server?  If so why are you copying the data file at all?  Each machine can connect with having to do that and will update automatically.  
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    Do you connect to Exchange?  If so what you are doing isn't really necessary.  
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Obviously, you're not using MS Exchange.

    In order to solve that painful and risky manipulation of your outlook data file, especially that it's size is about 1gig, you should subscribe to an exchange hosted service. They cost about 7-15$ per month depending on the provider you pick. There is a lot of advantages proceeding like such service.

    1. You don't have to transfer your data file over and over (dear god, must certainly be time consuming)
    2. Avoid data corruption of your one single data file (i hope you create back up in this process)
    3. You gain 3 copies of your precious emails (server, computer and lap-top in OST format instead of PST)
    4. You can have the OWA option with the service (Outlook Web Access). So with any computer you can gain access to your email account from anywhere on the planet and it's secure.
    5. You can set in a click an auto-responder and other useful features.

    If you don't know how to set it up, support team are usualy good to make it up and running at light speed.

    Finally, I suggest that you create an archive of your outlook data and update it every 3 months. You can have a duplicate in both machine (don't forget to update both!). You can access them with the File/Open/Outlook Datafile option and close it anytime you want. This will accelerate your Outlook and reduce your transfer time if you wish to stick to your method.

    There is many tools out there that you can use to repair a corrupted outlook data file. I assume that you went through this process by now (many times maybe). So I will not go deeper in details with this one as per the fact that you're looking for a solution that will allow you to access your emails DATA from 2 computers only and avoid this huge data transfer every time you swop computers.

    I hope this will help !

    Good luck.

    Author Comment

    Thank you for the detailed response,
    Yes, of course I am not using exchange server, that is very expensive in my view and would be slower (see below).

    My outlook pst file is backed up , encrypted, automatically to the internet from the desktop whenever the file closes.  Using a system which just backs up the changes, so it does not take long.
    Along with all  my other vital data from my computer so it is all backed up in one place, multi versioned.
    And all my data is on mirror RAID locally.  $2 per Gb per month.

    The outlook pst data file has never been corrupted.
    [Outlook 2003 in any event automatically repairs data files that don't close properly on system crash.
    I have NEVER had to repair the pst file in 4 years of doing this with Outlook 2003.]

    It is the PROFILE held in the REGISTRY which gets corrupted.

    The time consumed in data transfer is about 15 minutes per week, and I dont lose any time as I work on something else while it is happening.
    And in my view using exchange server is slower than having the data on my local hard drive, and I am going to lose vital work time if I use exchange server when it gets busy synchonising everything between server and OST especially if I am out on the road on a not high speed connection.
    A high speed network USB connection diret between computers leaves ADSL standing.

    Also if I don't have the laptop, I use Logmein to my own home computer from anywhere on the planet so don't need exchange server for that.  And Logmein gives me access to all  my applications and data as well as the outlook stuff.

    Yes I already have a 3Gb archive as you suggest, on both machines and on the internet as well.

    So I think there is a good case to remain with what I am doing and my question remains valid, why are my registry profiles regularly getting corrupted?

    Thank you
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    It's getting confusing here.

    Contacts is part of the PST file and you mentioned that it gets corrupted.
    Also, how can you tell how you found out that your profile got corrupted in the registry?

    Have you tried to recreate a new profile and then attach it to your existing data file ?
    If yes, how long could you last before the problem reoccure?

    If I may, this is not a good practice to let the PST file grow over 1 gig and moving it from one PC to another repeatedly. It is not certain that it will be corrupted but the risk is high. I had to repair a lot like these in my IT career.

    What is the "system" you're referring to that perform what it seem to be incremental back up of your PST file ? I would take a closer look at it, but still, it should not have anything to do with the profile settings.

    You can try this to "reset" everything and see if it's better.

    1. Create a new OUTLOOK DATA file.
    2. Use the original as Archive.
    3. Export your contacts from this Archive
    4. Import them in your new data file
    5. create a new profile
    6. attach this profile to the new data file.
    7. exclude you PST file from your actual bacup solution for a while.

    This way you should have got rid of all problems related to your previous settings without loosing one bit of emails and isolated one potential cause (your backup). Try not using logmein for the trail period unless you got problems without using logmein within the time window.

    logmein is gaining in popularity but few can measure precisely it's side effects on the integrity of your files. If you can, try using remote desktop instead. (personally that's what I prefer).

    Author Comment

    The contacts themselves are not getting corrupted.
    What is getting corrupted is the profile entries in the registry which index the Contacts Folders and set them as address books.

    What I do to clear the problem is go to Control Panel, Mail, delete the profile and set up a new one.
    Using the same data file.  So that is how I know th profile got corrupted in the registry. as they are stored in the registry, not in the data file (although it seems weird design to me that the data file does not contain the setting about whether a contacts folder is an address book)

    Then having created a new profile  i used to have to manually set every contact folder as an address book, but now I have a script to do that from the toolbar.

    The internet backup system i use is called Data Deposit Box - it googles.
    The problem used to occur before I started using it, so I am sure it is not related.

    I am afraid I don't have a clear idea of how long there is between occurences.
    It can be a week or so, or months.


    Author Comment

    PS, I dont let the pst it go over 1Gb, I archive it down to around 500Mb every so often.

    Author Comment

    PPS the probelm used to ocur before I started using logmein so I am sure that is not the answer.

    Thank you very much for all your suggestions so far which are good ones, but have not yet hit the spot!

    I am not going to go through your reset idea because I already know the data file is OK and Logmein and Data Deposit Box are not part of the problem.

    LVL 3

    Assisted Solution

    Matter of fact, if you can timestamps your problem and the use of your third apps  then there is no need to perform any reset.

    Here is some more things I would take a look at.

    Have you try a repair office installation from the Add Remove Programs ?
    Is the profile corruption occur on only one PC or both ?
    Have you any custom rules set on your computers ? Are they the same on both ? Have they been created by the same version of Outlook ?
    Do you have any add-ins, if yes which one ? Try to turn them off for a while.

    What is your anti virus & version?

    If all this is clean, mapi32.dll might be in cause as well as a virus.

    I remember the good old days of fixmapi.exe. But I don't know if this is still arround. A fix and a third AV scan would certainly not hurt.

    Accepted Solution

    OK, that is good stuff.

    Repair Offfice, done that.

    I am not sure if the profile corruption occurs on one machine or both.

    Rules might be a cause as there are some that are "for this machine only" and I believe these are rules which relate to the profile.
    Same version of Outlook.
    How can I debug the rules idea?

    AVG antivirus, the problem occurred before I switched to that.
    I have run antimalaware, also other AVs and am sure I am clean.

    Add in manager - I have 4 installed and will look at those when the rules hae been dealt with.
    also I will timelog the problem.


    Author Comment

    Hi again SirTKC,

    I feel my comment above was not too clear - Do you have any advice as how to clean up the rules?

    The rules are part of the data file, BUT when they refer to a folder, for example moving a message to a folder, the rule then becomes profile and machine specific as the folders are defined in the profile in the registry.  
    So I have found the same rule, moved from one machine to another becomes marked as "On this machine only".  So when the file is first movedd between machines, I can get a "Rules in error message" as it can't find the folder, I have to intervene to identify the folder.

    Any ideas on this aspect?

    Thank you

    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    How many rules do you have ?

    Author Comment


    Author Comment

    HI - any update on how to debug the rules?

    Author Comment

    I would like to close this question and award some points to SirTKC

    He did not provide the solution, but provided some ideas I can try over time.

    How do I make a partial award?

    I can not see a "Request Attention" button which should be there somewhere according to the email I have.

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