How can I best deal with an Entourage 2008 database that corrupts frequently?

Posted on 2010-09-17
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
A Macbook running Mac OS Snow Leopard and Microsoft Office Mac 2008 has the Entourage Database failing frequently - now almost immediately - and I need to try and resolve the issue.
It syncronises with an Exchange server 2003 on an SBS 2003 box and has a very large database - 17.8 GB - only 5GB of data being on the server.
Entourage starts with the MS database utility and will not complete either a verification or repair.
I can restore the database from Time Machine's recent backup and the database will verify but it fails again on next reboot.
I have created a new profile - and therefore a new database - and syncronised with the Exchange and that seems fine, but it means there's 12GB of data that has not been recovered from the old database.
I have run First Aid on the disc, which repaired some minor errors but the database failed again shortly after.
There are two issues of I want to address:
1)  What causes Enrourage database failures?  Is it bad data coming down from the Exchange, or hardware problems, or something else?
2) Assuming I can get the database running long enough to do anything with it, what would be the best way of archiving the 12GB of email data that is not on the Exchange, allowing easy access to that data as it is all apparently vital to the business?
Question by:Jason Bevan
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Expert Comment

by:Andre Thibodeau
ID: 33700364
hi sorehead,

Entourage database issues can be a pain.  I am assuming that you are running the latest and greatest.  Since you are using Exchange 2003, you do not require the Web Services Edition (this is for exchange 2007).

First run the disk utility and preform a verify and repair.  This will ensure proper permissions are applied, and fix any problems with the file system.  You may have a hardware issue.

This is a large database, 17gb.  Entourage does not have a size limit, but an item limit (2million), and I believe it will notify you once you approach it.  That said, 17gb is big.  Ensure you have enough free disk space (like 20gb) and then try to repair the database using the MS database repair utilty.

If still fails...  Move the database folder to another location on the disk (like the desktop), create a new Entourage profile and try to import the data in to the new database.

If that fails, you can try to reinstall the application and patches.  There is a MS utility to remove office in the MS Office application folder, however the utility does not preform a clean uninstall.
-  It does not remove receipts in Library/Receipts (old receipts could make the AutoUpdater think you are already updated) - receipts start with "office2008"
-  Snow Leopard users: You need remove the files in this invisible folder. In the Finder toolbar under Go, paste in this path: /private/var/db/receipts
- it does not remove Automator Actions in Library/Automator
- it does not remove Microsoft Preferences in ~/ Library/Preferences.  If you remove your User's Microsoft preferences, be sure to save your dictionary file in the Microsoft folder in preferences if you wish to save you custom dic.  The ~ is your Users Home directory.
- it does not remove fonts in Library/Fonts/Microsoft
- it does not remove /Library/Application Support/Microsoft Folder

You can manually delete these files and folders.  Then Reboot and reinstall.

If you need to save your keys, do not delete the plist files and back them up.  They are located at;
~:Library:Preferences:Microsoft:Office 2008:Microsoft Office 2008 Settings.plist
where ~ is your users home folder, and
Applications:Microsoft Office 2008:Office:OfficePID.plist
If these files exist, the installer will not ask you for a key.

That's all I can think of for now.

Like I said, entourage issues can be a pain.

Looking forward to Outlook for mac.


LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 33700768
Excellent advise from A.Thibodeau!

There are some troubleshooting suggestions here, but A. Thidodeau may have covered them:


Author Comment

by:Jason Bevan
ID: 33720556
Thank you both for your comments.  Both helpful, but for the most part covering ground I've already been over.  I am now considering abandoning the 17GB database but want to find a way of archiving the 12GB of mail that isn't held on my exchange server in a way that is (fairly) easily accessible to the user - I can get the database to work from a time machine backup until the next reboot of the computer.  Any guidance would be much appreciated.

Accepted Solution

Andre Thibodeau earned 500 total points
ID: 33720684
Hi Sorehead,

You could drag and drop the email folders up to the Exchange mailbox,and then let it sync with the exchange server.  Then you can setup another profile and download a fresh copy of the mailbox, and archive the messages to a new database.

Make sure your exchange database and mailbox can handle an additional 12GB.

Here is a guide to check the Exchange 2003 database limits.


Author Comment

by:Jason Bevan
ID: 33720711
Hi athibodeau,
Thanks for the suggestion.  I know the Exchange limits will be okay.  I'll have a think, and will have to consult with the user, as syncing 12GB of data could take some time…
A suggestion with potential nonetheless.
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Expert Comment

by:Andre Thibodeau
ID: 33720759
Hi again,

I should also point out, that adding 12GB of data to the Exchange Database will generate a lot of log files.  Ensure your system has preformed a backup beforehand, and that you have enough disk space to not only handle the data, but also the logs that will be generated.


Author Comment

by:Jason Bevan
ID: 33760063
Just to let you know that I am still trying to find a time that is convenient to the user.

Expert Comment

by:Andre Thibodeau
ID: 33760601

Just this week I was dealing with a client issue where the entourage 2008 would report the database is corrupted upon launch.  It was a 5gb database.  The user would get errors and entourage crashes when trying to moved messages from one folder to another.

I ran the MS database repair utility and rebuilt the database.

This resolved the issue.


Author Comment

by:Jason Bevan
ID: 33786724
Thanks for the input.  I'm still waiting for an opportunity to do this.  Maybe today.

Author Closing Comment

by:Jason Bevan
ID: 33817587
The solution put some stress on the server resources and took a long time - several hours to complete. However I don't know of a better one!

Expert Comment

by:Andre Thibodeau
ID: 33817642
Not surprised.  :)

Glad you got it sorted.


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