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Friday, December 26, 2008

Fixed! Outlook 2007 – The data file was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems.

Outlook 2007 is an interesting animal to say the least. I think I have experienced more issues with Outlook 2007 than any other previous version of Outlook – that includes Outlook 97, Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, and Outlook 2007. The only redemptive qualities of these errors are the fact that they have fit more in the category of annoying that debilitating or crashing.

One message that I have started receiving more frequently since my upgrade to Outlook 2007 has to do with a file checking of the Outlook OST (Offline Folder File) as I do run my Outlook client in the Exchange Cached Mode on Windows XP.

Here is the message:

The data file Mailbox – Hanscom, Ken was not closed properly.  The file is being checked for problems. Outlook 97, Outlook 98, Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, and Outlook 2007 OST PST Exchange Cached Mode

The data file ‘Mailbox – Hanscom, Ken’ was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems.

When this message occurs, I would see my hard disk with very high activity for 10-15 minutes, then followed by a little bubble message in my taskbar which told me the file checking had been completed. What Outlook 2007 was effectively doing was running SCANPST in the background to make sure my Offline Folder File for Exchange Cached mode was not corrupted. At least with Outlook 2007 this process now runs in the background. Had this been Outlook 2003, I would have been stuck waiting for the process to complete rather than just having a degraded, slower experience in Outlook.

After I encountered the problem a few times, I decided to try and understand what was causing it. When I looked at running processes after closing Outlook 2007 by using the File --> Exit under task manager, I noticed that Outlook.exe process was still running – meaning some other programs or processes still had the Outlook OST file opened.

I then thought about what other applications I might have that could possibly have access to the Outlook files. A couple of applications came to mind, Blackberry Desktop Manager, Microsoft Communicator, and Microsoft Search to name a couple. To test, I exited each of them, in different orders and when I exited all three of them, the Outlook.exe process went away from the task manager.

Looking into it a little more, I discovered that the source of the error generally has to do when you shut down your machine and the Outlook data file – whether it was a personal folder file or offline folder file – and another program or process has the file locked. Outlook and your operating system (Windows XP for me) is not able to close out the file properly and that flags Outlook to run a file check against the OST / PST to see if the file has been corrupted.

There are apparently several (link here) cases of this happening with the Google Desktop client if you have it running – which I do not. Also, Microsoft also recommends a number of options (link here, two-thirds of the way down the page).

The best solution for me has been to try one of two things:
1. Make sure that when I shut down my PC that Outlook 2007 is still open. That allows the Operating system to properly close out Outlook.exe. This is what Microsoft recommends in the link above.
2. If I have closed Outlook 2007 already, close out other programs such as Blackberry Desktop Manager or Microsoft Search that could have the file locked or open.

Since I have tried those two processes at shutdown I have experienced the problem much less frequently. That has at least made the issue somewhat bearable in the meantime. Hopefully, if you are encountering this issue – one of those solutions will work for you since frequent notifications like this can be quite the annoyance.

Interestingly, I have not experienced this issue with Outlook 2007 on Windows Vista – only on Windows XP. Has anyone else had a similar experience?


Anonymous said...


I am moving Outlook (2003) to a VISTA Outlook 2007 computer and have been plagued by the "... not closed properly" error.

Reading your comments with link to the MS page has revealed the gearwheel icon.

Other sites that I found certainly noted the shutdown problems, but I have now seen the gearwheels and I hope that they will disappear soon ;-)

Just to emphasise my situation, I have this problem on VISTA.

Russell Darling
Haddington, Scotland

Anonymous said...

I have this same problem only on XP. my Vista machine is fine. But what is strange is that I completly redid my XP machine with a freash install of XP with SP2 and installed Outlook 2007 with no other applications installed or running and I get that message everytime I open outlook. I even watched as it closed from task manager and without fail I get it everytime even when leaving outlook open when shutting down. I tried to add and remove profiles, add and remove some pst files. reinstalled outlook and nothing is working. My windows is up to date and no plugins. I think I'll go back to outlook 2003

Dave H said...

I have the same annoying messgae using Outlook 2007 under Windows Vista. I am using Google desktop so will go and take a look at the links you've provided.

Anonymous said...

I've got the problem on a Vista Outlook 2007 which was then migrated to a XP Outlook 2007. Regardless, the problem remained.

On the other hand, i'm running on a different computer another XP Outlook 2007 upgraded from XP Outlook 2003 & it doesn't see this problem at all.