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Microsoft Releases Outlook Troubleshooting Tools

Microsoft released two free tools this month that are designed to help IT pros troubleshoot Microsoft Outlook e-mail clients.

The tools are the Outlook Configuration Analyzer Tool (OCAT) and the Calendar Checking Tool for Outlook (CalCheck). Both tools are designed for use by help desk personnel, allowing them to proactively detect configuration problems in Outlook profiles using OCAT or find various issues with the Outlook calendar using CalCheck. These diagnostic tools may point to fixes, but they do not automatically correct the problems.

OCAT is an unsupported program with a graphical user interface that runs on Windows 7, Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows XP SP3. It works with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or Microsoft Outlook 2010, according to Microsoft's description. OCAT can be used to scan an Outlook profile either online or offline, from which it generates a report file.

According to Microsoft's description of Outlook profiles, a profile is saved in the Windows registry and includes details such as the user's name plus the e-mail server where the profile is stored. It also includes information about where Outlook data -- such as contacts, calendar, tasks and messages -- are stored. OCAT will check for "known problems" in an Outlook profile and provide a link to a Knowledge Base article with a fix.

CalCheck is a command line-based tool that only runs on Windows 7. It works with Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 clients. In addition, it can be run on Microsoft Exchange Server, including Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010. The tool can be run in server mode, in which it tries to "open all mailboxes on the Exchange server," according to a Microsoft blog. It will create a log file after checking for permissions, delegates, free and busy information, direct booking settings and the total number of calendar items in the folder, along with a series of item-level checks.

Like OCAT, CalCheck does not automatically fix problems. CalCheck doesn't alter the items scanned, although users can add command switches to affect the behavior of the scan. For instance, adding an "-F" switch will move error items into a folder. CalCheck only works with Exchange-based calendars. It doesn't check calendar problems associated with IMAP- or POP3-based servers.

Users of CalCheck must have the Outlook calendar installed on the same server that runs Exchange for the scan to work, according to Microsoft's description.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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