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optimize Outlook

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Why to optimize Outlook?
Generally Microsoft Outlook tends to respond slower to your commands, as time goes by over your Outlook installation. We use to compare Microsoft Outlook with Microsoft Windows: they both need constant tweaking and optimization..

The article applies to the following Outlook symptoms:

· It takes several minutes for Outlook to start;

· You constantly get Outlook crashes or error messages;

· It takes a lot of time for Outlook to switch folders or to view email content;

· Outlook dies or it opens slowly, after it was minimized to the Windows systray;

· Outlook doesn’t respond to your commands or its responses are erratic.

How to make Outlook run faster
First of all, you need to understand that Outlook is a database driven Windows product: as more information you add to it, as more time it needs to respond to your commands. Moreover, the Outlook engine was designed during the Windows 95 days, but for compatibility reasons its database engine remained almost the same until today. On top of this system, with every new Outlook version Microsoft added several layers of features, such as Tasks, the Journal, the Business Contacts Manager and so on.

So, the key for optimizing Outlook is: how can I take the stress out of Outlook and make it to handle less information?

Starting from the above scenario, here is a to-do list for making Outlook to load and run faster:

· Always archive your incoming emails: there is no need to keep thousands of emails in your active mail box. You can just setup Outlook so it automatically move older emails to an archive folder. This way, when starting Outlook or when switching folders, the program doesn’t have to load a huge list of emails. To archive a folder, simply right click on it, select its Properties, then go to the AutoArchive tab to configure your archiving settings.

· Make sure the default folder that is displayed when Outlook starts is not too crowded with emails. Try to move emails away from the default starting folder to archive folders or to other sub-folders. For example, if you receive many emails from a contact, you can define a rule so all those emails are automatically moved into a specific folder. As less items Outlook has to display at startup, as faster it shall load.

· On a busy environment, Outlook needs to handle large mailbox files (PST files). You may want to defragment the disk partition on which your PST file is located. Since new information (emails or else) is continuously added by Outlook to your personal folders file, the PST file tends to become fragmented very quickly. As a result, it is a good idea to schedule, at least weekly, a disk defragmentation for the partition where the PST file is stored. If your defrag tool allows it, you should move the PST file at the beginning disk sectors of your disk partition: this way will hardware will require less time to access & read the PST file.

· Unless it deals with critical errors, Outlook doesn’t always report less important errors. By running the “Detect and Repair” function (from the Outlook Help menu) on regular basis, you rest assured that nothing bad is happening in the background.

· Avoid switching tasks (ALT + TAB) while the main Outlook window is maximized. If you need to switch to a different application, make sure you firstly minimize Outlook, then go to the other program. Otherwise, it may end up using so much memory that it stops responding.

· The default Outlook settings makes it work with the Windows Instant Messenger as often as possible. As a result, switching between emails or folders can be very slow, as the Windows Messenger needs to load its information, too. You can disable the use of Windows Messenger for Outlook from the Tools menu, under Options -> Other -> Person Names (unmark the related checkboxes).

· Microsoft Office is delivered with speech and handwriting recognition features. Outlook also loads them and they increase the memory usage of Outlook. Here is a Microsoft article explaining how to turn off these features.

· If you use to work on the same Windows session for days and if you need to keep Outlook up and running all the time, try closing & restarting Outlook at least daily.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

January 6, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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