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Outlook 2007 Search Stopped Working After /Cleansharing

Hello,

I am running Outlook 2007 on XP Pro SP3.  My company uses Google Apps and Google Mail, which means all of my messages are stored on Google and can be accessed at any time.  A couple of weeks ago I started to get Outlook 2007 error messages about an invalid internet calendar.  See prior post:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Office_Productivity/Groupware/Outlook/Q_27826430.html

I tried deleting the calendar several times but it kept re-appearing.  Then TechSoEasy suggested I "start Outlook from the command line using the /cleansharing switch".  This was my first experience with these switches and I was happy that it worked - the calendar has been gone for a week.

As part of that thread, it was pointed out that my OST file may be corrupt.  I store my OST file on my SBS server because the server is backed up daily while my PC is not.  I think of the OST more as a backup then as something to use if SBS goes down (since the server is 5 feet from my desk and I could always use Google Mail's webmail as a stop-gap).

Since running the cleansharing switch Outlook doesn't appear to be working the same.  For one thing, all searches return no results, even when I know there should be many.  I don't even get the option to run the search in All Mail Items.  

Q1. Would a corrupt OST cause this problem?  
Q2. Is there another switch that would fix it?

I think I want to fix this so I either do not have an OST, or store the OST locally.

Q3. Would someone walk me through the process of deleting the OST files on my server and rebuilding new ones on the PC's local drive?

Q4. I am also looking for suggestions how to repair Outlook.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!
Chip
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MrChip2
Asked:
MrChip2
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1 Solution
 
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
So I'm a bit confused here...

First, if you are using Google Apps for your email, are you using the POP3 Connector on the SBS to retrieve it?  Or is it just configured as an email account in Outlook?

Because the only way you would have an .ost file is if EXCHANGE is retrieving your messages and storing them in an Exchange Mailbox.  Otherwise you would have a .pst file.

The difference between these two types of files are significant and NEITHER of them should be stored on a network share.

First, an .ost file is an OFFLINE CACHE of your Exchange Mailbox.  It is merely a reflection of your mailbox as it exists on the Exchange Server.  An .ost file ONLY exists if you configure your Exchange account in Outlook to use Cached Exchange Mode.  Otherwise, no .ost file will exist and Outlook will just look up your mailbox every time you start the program.  However if you don't use Cached Exchange Mode, and you are unable to connect to your Exchange Server for some reason, you will not be able to access your mailbox via Outlook until that connection is resumed.

Having an .ost file allows you to access your mailbox (a cached copy of it) in the event that Outlook cannot connect to the Exchange Server.  Once the connection is resumed, the .ost file will sync changes with the Exchange Mailbox.

Often, with larger mailboxes, .ost files become corrupt (because they are keeping track of a bunch of things like which messages were read, which are flagged, what views they are being seen in, etc).  Deleting your .ost file is the easiest way to correct this problem as the Exchange Server will just recreate it correctly.

The fact that you are keeping the .ost file on your server instead of locally is exactly why you cannot search all mail items.  Search requires that you use Exchange cached mode (which creates the .ost file) and that .ost file MUST be on your local machine in order to be indexed and searched properly.  Technically you can have search index a network share, but in order to do that it will cache that share locally -- and it WON'T index through an .ost file or any other database file this way.  So you need to get your .ost file back to its default location.

Don't ever consider an .ost file to be a backup of your mailbox.  Except using Outlook with the USER PROFILE that created the .ost file, these files cannot be read in their native state by Outlook or any other program unless they are converted to a .pst file.   While there are tools to convert an .ost file to a .pst file these are very rudimentary and for a very large mailbox you are bound to have a significant amount of non-convertable data.  

The proper backup of your mailbox should be done by doing a full backup of your SBS on a regular basis.

SECONDLY, a .pst file, is a downloaded copy of a mailbox -- usually a POP3, or IMAP4 mailbox and that file still should be kept locally.  .pst files are not created for Exchange Mailboxes.

If you want to back up a .pst file to the server on a regular basis that's fine.  There are a couple of tools to do this -- one is an add-in to Outlook 2007:  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=9003

The other is Microsoft's Sync-Toy, which can automatically sync a file on your local machine to a folder on your server:  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15155

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
FYI, there is no Walk-through to deleting the .ost file.  Just delete it.

You can delete it from Outlook > Account Settings > Data Files just to be sure that the reference is removed from your mailbox settings.

Then, just restart Outlook and it should be created correctly on your C: drive locally.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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MrChip2Author Commented:
Hi Jeff,

Thank you so much for helping with this.  I must admit that I think my email/Exchange set-up is less than optimal.  Sometime later this weekend I will post answers to your questions.  I want to be sure I am complete and accurate.

For now, I will tell you that I run daily complete backups of SBS.  These are stored on removable hard drives and external hard drives, not on the server.

I am pretty sure I am using Exchange, PST, and OST - but again I will get everything all in one place and post a follow-up by Monday.
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MrChip2Author Commented:
Update - I have two PCs that I use for email - this XP machine and a new W7.  The XP machine pointed to an OST on the network drive while the W7 had a local OST.  It took a few attempts (the unwanted networked OST kept rebuilding itself), but I finally have a new OST on the XP machine.  Email is set to use that OST file and the networked file has been deleted.

Interestingly, the networked file was 2.6 GB, while the new local OST was only 1.4 GB.  I thought I compressed that OST just a few months ago.  Over the last 2 months I have deleted 3,000+ emails - so that probably accounts for the file size difference.

On the W7 machine I rebuilt a local OST.  When finished, the two PCs have local OSTs of identical size.  I hope to be able to post a description of my setup by Tuesday for your advice.  For now I took the first step and moved the OST to the local drive.
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MrChip2Author Commented:
Hi Jeff,

It took quite some time, but Outlook finally finished indexing my emails.  Search, however, still does not work.  I tried regular and advance searching for words that should have had dozens of hits and it comes back that the term cannot be found.  It also does not offer to search in All Mail Items like it used to.  Any ideas?
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Are you referring to using search on your XP machine? or the Windows 7 machine?

On the XP Machine you need to have Windows Search installed which really is a dog of an add-on and I don't like using it.  But if you have it installed, be sure that the settings are such that it sees your .ost file in its new location.

On Windows 7, search is native, and if your Outlook Mailbox is not being indexed the search settings have been modified from their default (because Outlook Mailboxes would be indexed by default).

To fix this, click on the start button and enter "Change how windows searches" and press enter.

Click Modify and then check the box next to your Outlook Mailbox.

If the box is already checked, close the modify dialogue and click Advanced and then click Rebuild.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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MrChip2Author Commented:
Hi Jeff,

I need to test this on the W7 machine, for now it is not working on XP.

Windows Search is installed on the XP machine.  How do I make sure it sees my new OST file?  When I start Windows Search I can select my Inbox and the search function works correctly.
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
How do I make sure it sees my new OST file?  When I start Windows Search I can select my Inbox and the search function works correctly.

I'm confused.  Is it working or isn't it?

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
If I've misunderstood, then please review this article which should help you resolve the search problem:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/instant-search-is-not-finding-items-HA010198085.aspx?CTT=5&origin=HA010237832

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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MrChip2Author Commented:
Jeff,

Thank you so much for helping to solve this.  Your advice to delete the networked OST and rebuild it locally was what did the trick.  It took a while for Windows to Index all items (many tens of thousands).  Search still was not working today.  Then I went into options and unselected the option to search internet calendars.  Now search is working great!

When time allows later this week (hopefully) I will post another general question about my current use of OST and PST files.  For now I am going to delete all copies of the OST off the server (I kept a backup until this solution was verified).  Thanks again!
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