DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

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The Outlook Is Not Good

More computer follies at work. For the last week or so, I've been trying to figure out just what the hell was wrong with perky marketing assistant's e-mail. Last week she tried to send me an e-mail with a 150 MB attachment that seemed to completely choke our old Microsoft Mail server. We still use this for most internal e-mail since it's simple and spam-free. However it was designed back in the days when hard drives were measured in MB, so my initial assumption was that the attachment was just way too big for the system to handle. (It's my own damned fault, too, because when she asked me if I wanted the image, I suggested that she e-mail it. It never occurred to me that it was 150 MB.) The main problem was that the message wasn't clearing from her outbox, so that every time she restarted Outlook, it would attempt to send it again. It was also clogging the heck out of my inbox. I tried deleting the message from the outbox, but Outlook refused to allow this, giving me such helpful messages as "The MAPI spooler has already begun transmitting this message." Well, that certainly explains that. I was finally able to get at the message by removing the Microsoft Mail service, which left me get to it before there was any spooling (I think). I deleted the attachment, but Outlook wouldn't let me delete the message itself.

Fine. I figured that the now normal sized message just needed to run it's course, like passing a kidney stone, so I left Outlook open on both her and my machine overnight. Sure enough, when I came in the next morning, her outbox was clear, and my inbox had five copies of the message (w/attachment). That should've been it. I told PMA that everything was jake, and next time she had to give me an image that big to just burn it on a CD.

Except it wasn't. A couple days later she comes to me and says she's still not getting any messages. I suggested that perhaps nobody is sending her anything because she is so annoying. She didn't agree, so I took a look. I said I would take a look after she left for the day. Except it was Friday, and I had to go to Cambridge, so I didn't stay late. Tuesday morning, she apparently mentioned that she couldn't get e-mail in a meeting that the Chief was in, and the next thing I know I'm getting yelled at for not fixing her e-mail. Sigh.

So I kicked her out of her cubicle and took another look. Same problem. This time it's two files with huge attachments stuck in the outbox, one aimed at the Microsoft Mail server, the other pointed at our SMTP server. Both gave those "MAPI spooler" messages, and Outlook wouldn't let me delete them, either. There were also a couple of old calendar events that kept popping up that I couldn't delete, either. I spent a couple of hours noodling around, and was eventually able to delete the attachments, so I left Outlook open opernight to transmit them, figuring that I was back at the kidney stone stage. Yeah, right.

The messages both transmitted, but neither would clear, and I kept getting the same stupid messages. Time for Google. Microsoft suggested that I should first try to rebuild the inbox. There is an obscure utility for doing this the MS hides in the system tools folder. The first thing you have to do to use it is figure out where the .pst file that Outlook stores everything is. I opened up Explorer, and searched for the file, but no joy. I was able to find it by looking at the properties of the personal folders service, but I was puzzled that I couldn't find it in Explorer, even after I knew where it was. The folder didn't seem to exist. Then it hit me. I was logged in to a user account instead of the computer's administrator account. Of all the annoying things about XP, this is the thing that annoys me the most. I hate the administrator account. Only one person is using the frelling computer. We don't need multiple accounts. I logged in as adminstrator, did the search again, and there it was. Ran the utility, and after it chugged away for a good bit of time, it told me there were no errors. Huh.

Fired up Outlook again, no joy. Still clogged. Back to Google. There were instructions for replacing a corrupted .pst file. Before I started, I wanted to backup the old .pst file, so I went back into the admin account, and happened to look at the properties of the file for the first time. The file size was 1.9 GB! It was frelling enormous. Back into Outlook, and I sorted the inbox and sent box by size. There were about twenty messages that with their attachments accounted for about 1.5 GB. Sheesh! Tried to delete them. No go. Okay, back to MS Support. There were instructions for creating a new .pst file to replace a corrupted one, so I started doing that, figuring I could just not transfer the huge messages over to the new folder. I started transferring messages, and as some of the messages were moved to the new file, all the messages stuck up on the POP server started appearing in their place. The clog had vanished.

It appears there's a maximum size that a .pst file can be (probably 2 GB, which is the maximum file size in Win9x). Fill you file up, and things stop working. Once I'd moved some of the messages in the inbox to the other .pst file, I was able to delete all the huge attachments, and then compact the old .pst file. When the compaction was done, it was only about 350 MB. Everything seems to be working swimmingly.

The moral is, save your frelling enormous attachments to disk instead of leaving them in your in or sent boxes.

Meanwhile, DJ Houlton has gave up a three-run bomb to the Reds' #8 hitter, and LA is currently down 4-1. Stoopid Houlton.

And now the frelling #8 hitter has hit another home run. Maybe we should trade for this guy.
Tags: baseball, computers, work

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