Few PC glitches are more frustrating and more difficult to troubleshoot than your e-mail program failing to connect to a mail server. Recently, a family member told me about the enervating problems he experienced trying to figure out why his new Vista notebook wouldn't link to his office's mail server.
"I have Office 2007. Our firm uses Exchange Server 2003. I was having the damnedest time getting Outlook on my new laptop to sync with the server away from the office. I was at this for hours and hours reading through a bunch of 'fixes' until I came across two articles on the Microsoft Support site that solved the problem instantly."
The first of the two articles relates to this error message: "Task reported error 0x8004011D. The server is not available." As the article states, the problem is due to a conflict using TCP port 1723. The fix entails lowering Vista's security settings by running netsh at a command prompt.
If the error message you see in Outlook states "The action cannot be completed," "Your Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable," or "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook," the second of the two Microsoft Support articles may offer a solution. The trick is to add a DWORD value named DefConnectOps to this Registry key:
The article provides step-by-step instructions and also offers a one-click Fix it option. Well, it's actually a two-click-plus-wizard process, but it does let you avoid having to edit the Registry manually.
More Outlook-troubleshooting resources
Back in July 2008, I described the Microsoft Outlook fix of last resort, which generated quite a bit of criticism from IT pros. That post made me glad I have absolutely nothing to do with server management. But you don't have to speak Exchange Server to troubleshoot problems with Outlook.
An article on the Microsoft Support site helps you decipher error messages generated by Outlook and Outlook Express. The article also provides some basic and advanced troubleshooting tips.
If Outlook 2007 starts to act up, check out "How to troubleshoot performance issues in Outlook 2007" on the same site. One of the links in that article is to a Microsoft Support page providing instructions for increasing the maximum size of the .pst and .ost files in Outlook 2003 and 2007.
You'll find an extensive list of troubleshooting tips for Outlook 2003 on the Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Solution Center. Troubleshooting information for Outlook 2007 is listed on the company's Outlook 2007 Solution Center. Microsoft's TechNet site provides tips for Troubleshooting Microsoft Outlook Start-up Issues.
Finally, two other useful Microsoft Support articles describe "How to troubleshoot Outlook when you cannot send or receive e-mail" and tips for troubleshooting Outlook 2007 crashes.