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Microsoft Investigating Outlook 2016 Problems Affecting POP3 Users

Microsoft is investigating an issue with Outlook 2016 when used with POP3 accounts that causes e-mail deletions from servers or duplications of e-mails in user in-boxes.

Those problems started showing up early last week. Complaints about duplicate e-mails appeared in a Microsoft forum on Feb. 21, while another forum thread associated this same problem with an Outlook 2016 update issued by Microsoft earlier in the month.

Microsoft updated Outlook 2016 on Feb. 16, upping the e-mail client's version number to 16.0.6568.2025. This patch was supposed to add just a few feature improvements, including support for a new troubleshooting tool, according to Microsoft's description. But instead POP3 users got heaps of trouble. One forum poster complained of getting 10,000 duplicate e-mails, which tipped the scales on that user's bandwidth quota.

On Feb. 25, Microsoft acknowledged the problem and issued Knowledge Base article 3145116. KB3145116 offers two workaround options. POP3 users can either configure their e-mail accounts to use IMAP instead of POP3, if possible, or they can revert to a version of Outlook 2016 prior to the Feb. 16 update, which would be version 16.0.6366.2068. The Knowledge Base article has instructions for both approaches.

Microsoft's Feb. 25 forum post acknowledging the problem stated that Microsoft is "treating this issue with the highest priority as we work to fix the problem." No completion target date was mentioned, though.

According to the Knowledge Base article, if the POP3 messaging server is configured to remove mail from the server after a specified period of days, then the deleted e-mails problem may occur. However, if that setting is disabled, then users may experience the e-mail duplication problem.

POP3 is the venerable messaging protocol from the 1980s that downloads requested messages to an e-mail client. It may or may not delete the delivered message from the server, depending on how it's configured. The somewhat newer IMAP protocol keeps messages on a remote server, permiting multiple devices to access those messages.

One argument is that IMAP is superior to POP3 because IMAP syncs a message so that it's accessible across multiple devices. However, there usually has to be individual e-mail account size limits when using IMAP. POP3 might be the way to go if users don't want to worry about such mailbox quotas, according to this argument.

About the Author

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

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