Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another missing email solution, this time due to Work Offline


By David Gewirtz

One of the most common questions we get here at OutlookPower is "Where's my email?" I thought I'd seen all the permutations of this problem after six years publishing the magazine, but I was wrong. What was worse, the person who wasn't getting her email wasn't a mere reader. Oh, no. The person who wasn't getting her email (at least, not all of it) was my wife.

Denise had been getting email into her local copy of Outlook just fine, or so I thought. At least, she had been getting messages delivered into her Inbox folder. But she hadn't been getting personal mail from some family and friends -- mail her friends said they sent. Frankly, given that most of them used AOL, I just thought her friends were just email dorks and couldn't enter a proper email address, so I pretty much ignored her complaints.

However, one does not ignore one's wife's complaints for too long...

So I checked her mail, locally on her computer, in her own copy of Outlook, and didn't find any missing messages. I looked at her rules, and they all seemed to be working. She has a rule that delivers most of her personal email to a personal folder, so I checked that folder. I checked the views to see if she had some funky view in operation. Still no messages.

I was still convinced it was user error on the part of her friends and family. But, as I mentioned, one does not ignore one's wife's complaints for too long...

Finally, I decided to use Outlook Web Access to log into the Exchange server, to see if there were messages there. I was convinced that if I did a search, I wouldn't find anything. Instead, I did a search, and found all her missing email on the server, in her Personal folder. But it wasn't in her local Personal folder.

The folders weren't syncing.

I was about to do a full profile rebuild and suck down all her email to local OST files when I noticed Work Offline was checked. I unchecked it and immediately, all her email started to flood into her Personal folder.

Problem solved... but I still had a question: why did Work Offline prevent messages from syncing to her Personal folder, but she was still getting messages in her inbox? I'd never thought of Work Offline, because it appeared she was getting email.

For that answer, I decided to turn to another Exchange expert. I asked Billy Forte, the guy who runs IT Solutions Now, the excellent Exchange hosting service we use. He told me:

She was most likely clicking Send/Receive to receive mail. This forces Outlook to sync the specified folders in the Send/Receive Settings (typically only the basic built-in folders), even when Offline. Outlook with Exchange syncs automatically (without doing a Send/Receive) when Online and syncs all folders.

So there you go. Missing email found, my wife's happy, she's got all her email, and domestic tech tranquility has been restored (at least until the next tech honey-do).