Why would a person work with their messages and mail data even when they can't access a server?

Is there a ELI5 (explain like I'm 5) for this process?  I'm not looking for a software recommendation.

I searched offline storage table (OST) and read that it "is an offline Outlook Data File used by Microsoft Exchange Server that enables users to work with their messages and mail data even when access to the mail server isn't available."  I also read a lot of content about OST and PST software.

Why would a person work with their messages and mail data even when they can't access a server?  What kind of work is a person doing that this is even necessary to do offline?
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Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAsked:
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Bill PrewCommented:
Well, here's one use case I have have experienced.  I'm sure there are others, of a similar nature.

I'm heading out on a business trip, flying several hours to get someplace.  Before I leave home I connect to a network and sync up with current email from server, to my laptop.  I get on plane, turn on laptop, and read and reply to a number of emails.  I don't send them then, I'm not connected (too cheap to pay for wifi if they offer it).  I get to the remote office or hotel, connect in to the server, and viola, all my emails get sent / synced.

So when traveling or out of the office it can be useful.  Doesn't give you the latest incoming items, and doesn't send real time, but allows access to for reference, and composing of replies to be sent on next connection...


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Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
Thanks, Bill.

In your example, if your messages you typed offline were to become corrupt or become inaccessible for some reason, what would be your next step in recovering that work?
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Bill PrewCommented:
Well, they are on your laptop (or other offline machine), not really any different from working on a local copy of an Excel file, or Word doc, etc.  If you had a substantial failure where that machine failed, or the Outlook data store became unusable, then it could be lost work.

There are third party tools for recovering data from PST/OST files, most cost a little money.  Many other threads on EE about those.  And Outlook itself will try and repair a damaged file as well.

And if a person was very paranoid, they could export the emails or other documents they worked on to a flash drive before shutting down the computer after an offline session.


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Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
OK great!  Thank you for that.  That helps me understand why I always see so much chatter about those types of software.  Its also good to know what best practices a person could take so you wouldn't even need to bother with recovery software.
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Bill PrewCommented:
I think some of that traffic comes from use cases where a person had access to a corporate network, lost access (left the company, etc), and may be wanting to get access to the stored .OST files on their computer.  Another situation can be when people replace their computer and have to reinstall Outlook and have some data that wasn't stored on the server, but is in local files on the old machine.


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Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
OK that makes a lot of sense.  Thank you for the detailed explanations and examples.
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