Overcoming OST Synchronization Problems

When users use Outlook with the offline folders feature, they face synchronization problems from time to time. Very often, this is easily resolved by manually carrying out synchronization but at times, it does involve having to deal with a damaged OST file. We will look at how to solve various OST synchronization problems.

Most users are aware that when they use Microsoft Outlook with the offline folders feature enabled, it allows them to work with greater flexibility. The data from the main mailbox located on the Exchange Server, where the user has an account is copied into a local copy, called the offline folder file or OST file. This copy is regularly synchronized with the data in the main Exchange Server mailbox so that the user has an updated local copy of the data at all times. Other than the main benefit of being able to work without fear of network interruption, OST files also serve another purpose. If the OST files get damaged due to hardware or software problems, one can always carry out an OST recovery by creating a new OST file and then copying data from the main mailbox. Similarly, if for some reason the Exchange server gets corrupted or the mailbox is deleted, one should be able to restore data from the OST file and copy it back into the Exchange mailbox. Of course, one will have to typically use specialized recovery tools for this purpose.

While synchronization problems are not rare, they are very often resolved by first understanding which folders are not getting synchronized properly and then manually synchronizing them. Sometimes though, these problems only become visible indirectly. For example, users find that when they are trying to delete Outlook folders that are no longer needed, an error message crops up saying ‘Outlook cannot delete this folder since there are items in it pending synchronization with the server’. This is a synchronization problem and usually arises when there is a discrepancy in the number of items stored in the folder of the local OST file and the number of items stored in the server folder. There are a number of ways in which one can carry out an OST recovery so that the synchronization starts to work properly.

  • You can right click on the folder that is not being synchronized and then select ‘Clear offline items’. This will force the particular folder to resynchronize all the items with the mailbox on the Exchange server. This should hopefully allow both the folders – the OST folder and the server folder – to show the same number of items.
  • If it is happening for more then one folder, try to manually resynchronize the Microsoft Outlook folders so that there are no discrepancies.
  • If this also does not work, one may be dealing with a damaged OST file. If it is a large OST file, the best option might be to simply install a copy of specialized repair tools such as DataNumen Exchange Recovery from DataNumen to recover all the data from the damaged OST file. This tool makes the entire process uncomplicated and by simply pointing and selecting the damaged OST file, you can start the OST recovery process. Once the data has been restored, it will be saved in a personal folders file or PST file so that Outlook can easily access it. Moreover, if it is really a large PST file, DataNumen Exchange Recovery will allow you to split it into smaller, more manageable PST files.

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