Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When all else fails, call Microsoft tech support. It works.


By David Gewirtz

One of OutlookPower's most popular features is our Outlook Q&A. Readers write in, we select one or two questions and answer them, and then those questions and answers are available to anyone via The Google forever.

We are not a tech support organization, however. We're populated by a few editors who live their lives writing article after article. We don't have teams of support experts backing us up, we don't have call centers, and we never sold the products -- or reaped the revenue -- to be able to hire and field a support armada.

Even so, we try to answer a few questions each week. This time, we had a desperate request from a reader named Neil:

Maybe you can help me here. I'm not sure where else to turn. My MS Outlook 2003 has quit sending and receiving. I get several kinds of error messages (from password problems to can't find server, etc) when I try to initiate a send or receive. I've spent a great deal of time with the Comcast Help Desk and on-line fix-it sites to try and resolve the problem, unfortunately to no avail. I just finished reading your article, What to do when Outlook won't send or receive, at OutlookPower.
I followed all your suggestions in the order you listed them culminating with running Outlook's Detect and Repair option. Unfortunately, the process it had me follow caused me to lose all my Outlook files, addresses, etc or so it seems. Is there anyway to recover that information?

Poor Neil. We get a lot of panicked emails like this, which is why we have a huge troubleshooting library. Even so, I can't stand seeing a grown man cry (I'm don't know that he cried, but I just figured it was likely).

I sent him a quick reply via email:

Wow, okay, let's first hope you did a backup somewhere in recent history. If so, restore that backup. If not, quit Outlook and do a search (make sure to search hidden files and folders) and look for files with the .PST extension. There's a slim chance there's a .OST extension, but I'm guessing it's .PST. If you find such a file, and it's moderately large -- BACK IT UP.
Then go to OutlookPower and read the various articles we have on copying PST data, upgrading PST files, etc.
I'm not really equipped to do tech support, but I'm guessing If the recovery utility killed your data it might have been corrupted. Obviously, a call to Microsoft might not hurt.

There were a couple of relevant suggestions here. The first was to quit Outlook. If Outlook is open, it could still do things to your email. the second was to search for .PST and .OST files. These are the files that hold your Outlook email.