Thursday, December 1, 2005

Weird and quirky Outlook behaviors, solved


By David Gewirtz

We've gotten quite a backlog of reader questions, so I thought I'd take two of the "weird, quirky" variety and take a shot at answering them.

Out of system resources

Mike Drilling in Millbrae, California asks:

For the last several weeks I have been getting intermittent error messages in Outlook 2002 that say "Can't open this item. Out of memory or system resources. Close some windows or programs and try again."
These error messages have occurred when I have tried to Forward email messages, or open Appointments in Calendar. They seem to happen when I haven't done a system restart in a couple of days (restarting solves the problem), and typically when I have Outlook open along with Firefox. I also run the usual complement of background programs, such as McAfee. I usually have 2 Outlook windows (Inbox and Calendar) open simultaneously.
My laptop is about 6 months old, has an AMD Sempron 2800+ processor, 512MB RAM, and the latest version of Windows XP. I run regular defrags and system cleanups.
Any thoughts on what I can do to resolve the resource problem?

Ah yes, the dreaded system resources problem. This is actually a pretty complex problem and you haven't really given enough information for us to give you a "this is what's wrong" answer. However, I can certainly suggest some things to look for.

First, your box is a pretty powerful system, so I wouldn't think it's merely a lack of hardware capacity. Although I like running with a gig or more of RAM, 512MB is quite respectable and will work fine with Office and XP.

Usually, when you run out of resources, it's because you're running too much on your system. And, when you think about running too much, these days, the first thing that comes to mind is spyware. I'd strongly recommend downloading a bunch of the spyware cleaning programs (AdAware, Spybot, and Microsoft's are good starts) and doing a thorough scan. If anything's going to indiscriminately eat up resources, a spyware program will do it.

Likewise, you might want to do a complete virus scan.

After that, I'd recommend you turn off all the unnecessary little fiddly-bit programs you might be running, check to see what loads at startup, turn off unnecessary services and otherwise do a good housekeeping.

Could it be an Outlook-specific problem? Sure. Make sure your .PST file hasn't grown too large and compact it. But I'm thinking you've got a little furry spy living in your box, sucking down your cycles.

The strange case of the missing message

Steven McQuaid has a funky problem:

I am using MS Outlook 2000 SR-1 (v.
When I "Reply" to or "Forward" an e-mail message still contained within my "Inbox", as soon as I press "Send", the original message is removed from the "Inbox". Other than a copy of the "Reply" or "Forward", I am unable to locate where the orginal message might be. It does not appear as a deleted file in the Trash Folder.
Where might the "removed" file be? And, how do I stop this from happening?