Since 1998 Outlook has become more than an e-mail
program. We are now highly dependent on the program for scheduling
appointments, maintaining contacts and, for some, tracking projects. The
loss of e-mail service has become a serious problem. Especially since the
advent of e-mail transmitted viruses, e-mail systems can be brought down for
days. Needless to say, loss of appointment calendars and recent e-mail
transmissions can be a major inconvenience.
Synchronization is the process by which the
"Mailbox" is duplicated onto the user's workstation. Under
normal circumstances, the information presented in Outlook is kept on a
central server. Synchronization routinely copies this information to a
secured file on your workstation. If the main e-mail server becomes
inaccessible, you can quickly revert to your synchronized copy. You can
then create new e-mail messages, add appointments and contacts. When
e-mail service is re-activated, the synchronization works in reverse,
automatically updating the central server with the information you have entered
into your synchronized copy.
This article will cover the following subjects:
Synchronization will automatically duplicate your Inbox,
Calendar, Deleted Items, Journal, Tasks, Notes and Sent Items. There is no
way to avoid these synchronizations. What it will not synchronize
automatically are any folders that you created.
What makes synchronization perform poorly is a congested
Inbox. Click on your Inbox and check how many items are listed in the
lower left hand corner of the Outlook window. If you are not in the
habit of moving messages into special folders or deleting items routinely, you
will find that the number of items in your Inbox can be quite high. If it
is more than 100, expect synchronization to be quite lengthy.
So before synchronizing you will need to reduce the number of
messages in your Inbox to as low a number as possible, preferably 50 or less.
Synchronization works best by duplicating recent information, not
How to Activate
Workstation Setup Requirement
How is synchronization activated? First, select the
"Tools" menu and then select the item "Services."
Click on the "Microsoft Exchange Server" and then
select the "Properties" button.
The next window presented is the "General"
properties. Note at the bottom there is a checkbox labeled "Choose
the connection type." Make certain that this box is checked.
This will provide you the opportunity to select which mode of Outlook you
require ("Connect" or "Work Offline"). This is
discussed below. While selecting this option
will introduce an additional mouse-click to accessing Outlook, it will
provide a much simpler mechanism for accessing your synchronized file in case
the network goes down.
The next window, "Advanced" will present a button
near the bottom labeled "Offline Folder File Settings."
Clicking on the "Offline Folder" button will
present a dialogue box where you can specify the name of the synchronized file,
it's location and encryption specifications. The following is recommended:
- Your workstation will have present a directory titled
"C:\Mailboxes." This directory has been created on purpose
because it will make it easier for support staff to locate your synchronized
- Name the file after your e-mail ID. This will avoid
situations where different users may accidentally create duplicate files.
- Utilize "Best Encryption".
Once all that information is inserted, click "OK"
until you are out of the "Services" utility. The next step will
be to go to the "Options" module (located in the "Tools"
menu). This will present how on-line syncrhonization occurs. To make
it occur automatically, click on the "General" tab and make certain
the box is checked "When online, synchronize all folders upon
After that is done, click "OK" to save your
changes. The next time you exit Outlook a message will be presented
announcing that synchronization is in progress. The first time will take
about a minute or two to complete. After that, it will take only seconds.
How to Activate
Synchronization for Outlook 98
Outlook 98 is a bit different. Changing the settings in
"Services" is exactly the same as with Outlook 97. But clicking
"Options" will present a entirely different format as depicted below:
Clicking on "Mail Services" will present the window
you need to specify synchronization functions.
There are only two items that you will need to check:
"Enable Offline Access" and "When Online, sychronize all folders
upon exiting." If you are so inclined, you can also try using a timed
synchronization, "When Online, automatically synchronize all offline
How to Designate
Which Folders to Synchronize
As was noted above, Outlook
automatically synchronizes a certain set of folders such as the Inbox and
Calendar. Folders that you have created, however, must be directed to
synchronize. As a rule, duplicated mailboxes should pertain to current
information. Synchronizing folders that you have created will be quite
rare. But you may have instances where messages stored under a specific
folder are frequently used for reference and would be sorely missed if the
e-mail system was inoperative. In those cases you will need to program Outlook
to synchronize folders that you have created.
To synchronize a folder, click on the folder using the right
mouse button. This presents a menu from which you will need to select
Clicking on that option will present another window in which
"Synchronization" can be selected. In this example, a folder is
designated to be synchronized by selecting "When offline or online."
Also note the statistics in the window indicating how many records reside
on-line and off-line.
How to Work
Testing was conducted to see how Outlook performed
when the e-mail system was down. The best results were provided when you
were given the choice to choose to work offline. Under normal situations
you would select "Connect" and you would automatically be connected to
the Exchange server. But what would happen when the e-mail system
went down? Selecting "Work Offline" immediately presented your
Tests were conducted where Outlook would automatically
distinguish whether you were online or not, bypsassing the window presented
here. The results were not that positive. First, a series of
confusing messages were presented. Second, answering any of these
questions wrongly would result in no connection to your synchronized mailbox.
By reverting to a manual selection these two problems were avoided.
How to duplicate
calendars of other mailboxes
Many users manage room calendars and the mailboxes of other
administrators. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that will
automatically synchronize these calendars. The best way to solve this
riddle is to "Export" the calendars. This will copy the calendar
contents into a designated file on your computer. You are encouraged to
restrict exportation to only calendars because the files created through this
process are not very secure.
The menu below is presented when you click on
"File." Note that there is an "Import and Export..."
Clicking on "Import and Export" will present a
window where you can specify the type of file that will be created through the
export process. Select "Export to a personal folder file."
Next, specify the folder you wish to export. In this
example, the "Calendar" for MA-202B is selected.
Next, specify the location of the exported file. In
this example, the file will be located in the "C:\Mailboxes"
subdirectory and the "MA202B.PST" filename is given.
Clicking "Finish" will present a window displaying
How to import duplicate
Let's assume that the e-mail system went down for three days.
You decided to enter appointments into the exported file located in
"C:\Mailboxes\MA202B." How do you get that information back into
the main e-mail system when it returns? This file will not automatically
synchronize. It will need to be imported. Importation is very
similar to the steps taken when exporting data. First, you select the
option to "Import form a personal folder file."
Next, you specify where the file is located. In this
example, the file being imported is the MA-202B room calendar. Note,
however, that you have an opportunity to specify how duplicate entries are
handled. Under most circumstances, select "Do no import
duplicates." This will avoid the duplication of appointments.
Finally, you will be presented with the list of items stored
into the exported file. Make certain you have selected "Import items
into the same folder in". In this example, we will be importing the
Calendar folder into the mailbox for the MA-202B conference room.
Because importation will occur rarely, you may wish to note
which appointments you have added, changed or removed. Go into the
destination mailbox and double-check those entries to make sure that they were
accurately inserted. Also double-check for duplicate entries. Tests
have been conducted with positive results, but because this procedure is rarely
conducted it will be wise to carefully review the information.