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  1. #1
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    Email Receive "not responding"

    When receiving more than 10 emails in my POP account, Outlook 2007 frequently hangs ("not responding") requiring a shut down. I have to manually "cancel" the send receive after every 15-20 emails (sometimes fewer) or it frequently stops responding.

    PST is about 5 GB but I have Win 7 64, Xenon processor and 8 GB RAM.

    Have "repaired" Outlook numerous times but no improvement.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    I suspect something outside of Outlook itself, such as an intermediate proxy that scans your mail for viruses and malware, or an issue on the server side. Do you keep a lot of mail on the server?

    Edit: I assume you have repaired your PST file many times as a result of all the crashes. You might want to create a new clean PST and copy your items into it (drag and drop works) in case there is something terribly wrong with your existing file. One method is to close Outlook, rename your PST, restart Outlook at allow it to create a new PST, then attach the old one using File > Open > Outlook Data File.
    Last edited by jscher2000; 2011-09-25 at 13:39. Reason: Also...

  3. #3
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    Thank you for your reply.

    Sometimes it occurs when I try to download 100-150 emails, however, this only occurs on my desktop and never on my Win XP laptop. Also, sometimes it occurs with as few as 8-15 emails. Once downloaded the messages are removed from the remote server.

    Might try the new pst file recommendation.

    Running Microsoft Security Essentials.

  4. #4
    New Lounger WmHBlair's Avatar
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    > PST is about 5 GB but I have Win 7 64, Xenon processor and 8 GB RAM.

    I have suffered from this problem as well, for more than 2 years. Along the way, I developed considerable diagnostic expertise and otherwise useless knowledge of Windows internals in an attempt to gather information (potentially for Microsoft, if I could ever get them to listen to me seriously). Like everybody else who has posted (elsewhere) seemingly authoritatively about what the problem is and what they did to supposedly solve it (or what did not work), I completely missed the boat until I correlated the "not responding" event with what was actually (still) going on in a thread of the Outlook process. I discovered that a highly-fragmented, un-compressed PST file was the cause of my problem. Outlook seems to go out of its way to try to find space in the PST file to store incoming emails (ordinarily a good idea), so that the file size does not grow larger than necessary, but when thousands of emails have been stored and then deleted, this function runs longer and longer, requiring a small amount of processor time but a lot of hard drive activity. The more fragmented (I presume) the PST file is, the longer this search for free space within the currently allocated hard drive file space takes. Other threads are locked while this is occurring, and when this search runs on too long, Windows itself gets upset because it thinks the application is not responding. It's not, but only because of what is probably a poor design. At that point, the only cure is to terminate the process and allow Outlook to restart itself. Ultimately, that is what you will have to do to recover the application focus, but it's not necessary to actually do that as soon as Windows thinks its gone to sleep. Outlook is not sleeping, it's just busy, and working quite well, in fact. You're never going to talk to it again via the mouse and keyboard (because Windows has decided it's "not responding"), but under the covers it's still downloading email messages (albeit quite slowly), searching for free space in the PST file, and storing them. I discovered that if I simply allowed it to "finish" downloading all of the email, it would eventually "finish" having stored all the messages in the PST file. They would not, however, have been run thru the "Rules" engine (because that thread is one that is locked out). But they show up in the main InBox, so all is well. Once Outlook restarts, it "recovers" the PST file adequately (provided I let it "finish"). Repairing the PST file is not necessary; there is, in fact, no "damage" done ... unless Outlook is restarted prematurely before all the emails get downloaded.

    So the cure was simply to reduce the size of the PST file (in my case to less than 1 GB), at which point the apparent email download speed increased by a factor of at least five. For example, Outlook could download approximately 1,000 email messages in 2.5 minutes, whereas before, with a 4.5 GB PST file, that would take at least 12 minutes, and usually closer to 18 or as much as 25 minutes. All of that extra time was required to drive the hard drive nuts (again, I presume) looking for free space in the PST file that's already allocated to it (as far as the NTFS file system is concerned).

    The way I have Outlook configured now is that the main PST file just receives email and distributes it into folders via Rules. Things I want to keep are then moved to one of several other PST files (whose sizes total around 5 GB in my case). At least monthly I scrub the main PST file for emails to be archived (manually) and then compress the main PST file. At that point, it shrinks from about 1.5 GB of allocated space to about 300 MB. After that, email downloads really speed up. I can now tell from the download speed how fragmented my main PST file is; if I then check the file size, I find it's grown considerably (by a factor of 4-5 usually). At that point, it's time to clean it up again, and then compress it. I also then physically move the main PST file, once compressed, off to another hard drive, run Windows drive defrag on that drive, and then move it back; that gets the (now smaller) PST file allocated in one (or at least a small number of) extents, and I think that helps Outlook's performance when it is looking around within the PST file later as it grows and again becomes fragmented.

    Once I started practicing "safe Outlook PST management," I have never again encountered an Outlook "hang" or "not responding" incident, and I can safely leave Outlook running all day, all night, etc. I went on vacation a month ago and left it running for more than a week. No problems! Before I reduced the (main) PST file size, that would have been a bad idea, since more often than not, simply trying to retrieve a batch of any number of emails (including a small number, like 50) usually caused Outlook to appear to not be responding.

    It does not matter that you have a fast processor or a huge hard drive or gobs of memory. Outlook is simply poorly designed to deal efficiently with large PST files, thus resulting in all of the symptoms I have seen reported. No wonder Microsoft was confused. I doubt they tested it with huge PST files under real world conditions. Support for large PST files (larger than 2 GB) is now not a new thing, but I suspect lots of folks are still using the old format (with the 2 GB size limitation), because that is what one gets is one "upgrades" Windows/Outlook (instead of starting from scratch). My experiments indicate that allocating space within a highly fragmented old-format PST file is even more disk I/O intensive than with the new format.

    Clean up your main PST file, reduce its size, archive items to be kept to other, less-active PST files, and compress all of them regularly (after backing them up first!) on an appropriate schedule, and I bet your problem will simply disappear. Mine did.

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  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to WmHBlair For This Useful Post:

    jockmullin (2011-12-30),Punchcard (2012-01-07)

  6. #5
    3 Star Lounger jockmullin's Avatar
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    Hi WmHBlair

    Well, you certainly made your first post a good one.
    That is a cogent and penetrating analysis of what is going on in those large PST situations. Every Outlook user with large message volumes going into a PST file has experienced this difficulty.

    Thanks a lot
    Jock

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    I never let my PST file go beyond 1 GB. When it does, I archive and delete. Maybe it is an "old" precaution, but that has allowed me no performance issues whatsoever.

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    3 Star Lounger jockmullin's Avatar
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    Agreed, I do the same both because of better reliability and also so backup and restore don't take too long. PST files are SO flaky you can be sure at some time you will have to restore, and for that you need a backup, obviously.

    Jock

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    New Lounger WmHBlair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jockmullin View Post
    Hi WmHBlair

    Well, you certainly made your first post a good one.
    That is a cogent and penetrating analysis of what is going on ... <snip> ...
    Thanks a lot
    Jock
    Interesting. I have been hanging out here since the beginning, and reading Windows Secrets and its other now-merged-in newsletters for years, grabbing whatever useful information was available that was not nailed down. All have been very valuable resources for me. Recently, this issue came up again (from an online contact) and I just "knew" I could find some article online that explained what I had already learned at great expense of individual time and personal effort [since I am not a Windows, Linux, or Intel programmer or network administrator -- just a so-called "power user"], which turned out to be mostly valuable, as I hinted, for the many other things it occasioned me to be forced to learn. However, I could not find a single post, article, or web page online that expained -- nor even hinted at -- what I knew. I decided to write one and point my online friend to it. Remembering that one hit out of the literally hundreds that Google enabled (and the situation forced) me to explore was windowssecrets.com, I knew that here is where I had to post it. The audience here is tough. I knew I could be exposed as an idiot if I didn't know what I was talking about and did not explain it clearly.

    But it never even occurred to me that this was the first time I've contributed here. Thanks for the compliment. I'll take it as a challenge, because I've been in this same position before here (known the exact answer to someone's problem), but never took the time to pay the community back for what it and the users here who have taken the time to contribute have given me. As my daughter says: My bad. I promise to do better. So, most of all, thanks for the reminder.

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    WB
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    WB

  10. #9
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    This explains what I've been suffering for months, however, creating a new PST is also time consuming and annoying especially if you have lots of email Rules and accounts.

    Is there a simple way to copy and import those old Rules and folders into a new PST?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Punchcard View Post
    This explains what I've been suffering for months, however, creating a new PST is also time consuming and annoying especially if you have lots of email Rules and accounts.

    Is there a simple way to copy and import those old Rules and folders into a new PST?
    Why create a new .pst? Just archive old posts. I keep an archive .pst for each year and after archiving, I just compact the "live" .pst file.

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