Outlook 2003 inbox empty after using OWA

Posted on 2009-02-19
Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Outlook 2003, multiple users connecting to Exchange server on Windows Server 2003 SBS server. PCs and laptops are running Windows XP with curret service packs and patches applied.  Users can also access email off site using Outlook Web Access, with no problems.

One user recently started using Outlook Web Access, and found that the contents of his Outlook Inbox disappear after using OWA.  His laptop connects to the Exchange server when at work, and incoming messages are in the Inbox when he runs Outlook.  The Exchange account is the only account on this installation of Outlook 2003.

When OWA is used to view inbox contents (whether at work or off site), the next time he opens Outlook (at work) the inbox is empty, except for messages that were delivered after OWA was closed.

Outlook 2003 Inbox has numerous subfolders that are working normally, displaying all messages.  Only the Inbox folder appears to have the problem of disappearing messages.
Question by:4RunnerBob
    LVL 16

    Expert Comment

    is the View on Outlook set to show 'Messages" ... cos this is something so simple that can be easily overlooked :)
    Make sure it is not set to show only "Unread Messages"

    Author Comment

    Yes, the view on Outlook is set to show "messages", but thanks for the reminder.  Sometimes the simple things are the last things we check.
    LVL 16

    Accepted Solution

    are the users emails being delivered to the Server or to a Local PST ..
    take a look at this too ..

    Author Comment

    Additional details:
    Laptop is onsite at work, connected to Exchange.  Inbox shows three current messages, which have been read.  Closed Outlook.

    Connected to OWA using http://{server address}/Exchange, logged into OWA.  Saw 20 messages, all of which were received prior to 2/17/09 at 1:40 pm (date/time OWA was first used by this user).

    Within OWA, clicked Send/Receive, saw the three "read" messages (from Outlook) appear and they were displayed as "read".  So far, so good.  Logged out of OWA.

    Started Outlook 2003 again, saw the three "read" messages for about three seconds, then they disappeared.  (The messages still appear if using OWA, but do not appear in Outlook.)

    With Outlook 2003 running and OWA not in use, received two new messages to inbox.  They will remain there, until the users opens OWA and clicks Send/Receive.  

    Any ideas?  All other users are able to connect and use OWA without any changes to their (Outlook 2003) inbox.

    Author Comment

    Problem solved.

    The user did not have problems when using OWA as they had previously stated.  When they pointed their browser to http://{server}/Exchange everything worked well.

    The user had the "disappearing Outlook inbox contents" problem only when they logged into the server using Remote Deskop, then opened Outlook from the remote desktop.  Once this specific information was extracted from the user, the problem was easy to solve:

    Opened Outlook while connected via Remote Desktop, checked configuration of the Exchange email account, found that this copy of Outlook was saving everything to "Personal Folder" and not "Mailbox:{UserName}".  (The Outlook on the laptop was configured to save everything to "Mailbox:{UserName}".

    Changed the (remote desktop) Outlook configuration to save everything to Mailbox:{UserName} so that all messages, calendar objects, etc. would stay on the Exchange server.  Also used File, Import/Export to import all items from personal folder data file into the same location in Mailbox:{UserName}.

    This issue is a good example of how we sometimes have to go over the same information more than once with the user, and have them actually show us how they are getting the error.  (A different type of communication problem?)

    Thanks to speshalyst for the suggestion to check the view setting.

    Author Closing Comment

    The question about delivery to a PST file helped us ask more specific questions of the user, including asking the user to show us exactly what they were doing.  Once we found a second installation of Outlook (for the remote desktop client), checking for a PST file became obvious.
    Thanks again for your help, speshalyst!

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