MS Outlook users often report having problem connecting Outlook to Exchange. In most of the known cases, this specific issue influences a small division of the user base. However, there is no ultimate fix for the problem, but there are a number of things that can fix Outlook connectivity issues for some of the users. At times, troubleshooting the issue is as easy as closing Outlook and restarting it. In other cases, troubleshooting is much more difficult... or so it looks like.
To perform these methods (which we are going to discuss below) don't need any technical degree to understand them, so just about any person could be competent to get Outlook re-connected to their Exchange. I will begin with the easiest to perform method and amplify the complexity as we go along.
Uncheck offline mode
When a client calls and says, “My email won't work!”, I find that Outlook was in some way set to offline mode. If you are using MS Outlook 2007 or prior version, click the File menu. If you find a check mark next to Work Offline, then uncheck it, and you should be able to resolve the issue.
If you are using Outlook 2010 or higher, follow these steps:
- Click the Send/Receive tab.
- Locate the Work Offline button.
- Click the Offline button.
At the bottom of your Outlook window, you should notice “Trying To Connect...”. If it connects, your issue is resolved; else go ahead and try the next troubleshooting method.
If unchecking offline mode does not fix the problem, then you should try resolving the connectivity issue by restarting MS Outlook, and, even if that fails, you need to restart your computer. I cannot tell at how many instances I have noticed Outlook connectivity issues fixed with a simple restart. The problem also might occur because of the computer having connectivity problems. If your web browser is unable to open a website, then that is possibly the reason and it’s time to take the help of your technical support department because you are having a networking issue. Once that is resolved, Outlook will start connecting to Exchange server again.
Rebuild the data files
Outlook uses two types of data files (.ost & .pst), and both are prone to errors which can act as a base to connectivity problems. Here's how to handle this:
- Close Outlook.
- Open the Control Panel.
- Find the Mail icon (depending on how Windows Explorer is set up, you might have to click the Users section to find the Mail icon).
- In the resulting window, click Data Files.
- Choose your data file from the list and click Open File Location
- Find the data file in question (it will perhaps have the same name as your email id).
- If the file has the extension .ost, rename the extension to .OLD. If the file has the extension .pst, do nothing at this time.
- Close these windows and open Outlook.
Note: You need to check the file extension so that you can get to know whether your outlook data file is OST or PST and this can be managed easily via windows explorer settings.
If your file is in PST format, then follow these steps given below to run Scanpst:
- Search for scanpst.exe via Windows Explorer.
- After you locate the file (e.g., a location could be C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office13\), then double click to run the application.
- From the resulting window, click Browse Locate your .pst file.
- Click Start.
Note: If you have run Scanpst on your data file earlier, then the location will already be present in the field.
Depending upon the size of your file, Scanpst will run eight passes over the data which can take a few minutes. If errors are found by Scanpst in the data file, you will be asked to click the Repair button. You should also check the box ”MAKE BACKUP” of the scanned file prior to start repairing.
Once the repair is done, you need to close Scanpst and open Outlook again. If Outlook still not able to connect to the Exchange server, move on to the following troubleshooting method.
Run a Repair installation
You can perform a repair installation of MS Office as this repair will resolve the issues that other standard methods cannot. To carry out this, follow the steps given below:
- Open the Control Panel.
- Click Programs and Features.
- Find the entry for your Microsoft Office installation and select it.
- Click Change.
- Select Repair from the resulting window.
- Click Continue.
- Let the repair to complete.
- Restart your computer.
Once your computer has been restarted, start MS Outlook.
If after performing all of the above troubleshooting methods, Outlook is still unable to connect to Exchange Server, then it is the time to contact the technical support/IT department as it could be then an Exchange server issue, a DNS issue or due to some other possibilities.
In the upcoming articles, I would be discussing some methods to fix Outlook connectivity issues due to Exchange Server and DNS. So stay connected.