Outlook Express’s 2GB problem


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I had a visit with a client today who used Outlook Express and it wouldn’t gather her e-mail. She knew it was there as she could go to the mail service’s web site and see it. She just preferred Outlook Express. I can’t say I blame her as I normally recommend using a program on your computer to read your e-mail (and there are certainly worse programs out there than Outlook Express).

The error which was given was “unknown” with a code of 0x800c0133. Not very informative (like most error codes). After a quick search, I discovered the problem could be caused by a corrupt mailbox file. I went to the location of the data files in an attempt to follow a method of repair I saw online when I discovered the true problem: The “In Box” data file was just under 2GB in size. Knowing Microsoft would have never imagined Outlook Express using a file so large, it’s probably hard-coded to choke when it finds one.

My options were simple. I could delete the data file or figure out a way to shrink it. The compress function in Outlook Express didn’t work. I couldn’t even view the In Box from within Outlook Express. In my case, my client wasn’t concerned about the past e-mails so deletion wasn’t a big deal. However, this won’t work for everyone and I began my search for a free utility to perform the job. Unfortunately, I didn’t find one.

There is a great site out there for anyone who uses or maintains Outlook Express: oehelp.com. From there you can grab utilities to help out with several problems however the ones which could be used to extract important e-mails weren’t free. In the past, I’ve used insideoe.com for assistance. It has a great deal of help, tips, and advice. However, both sites haven’t been updated in a great while. This doesn’t surprise me much as Microsoft basically abandoned support of Outlook Express when Windows Vista was introduced (let’s not forget Windows Mail which came with Vista which was basically replaced with Windows Live Mail a short time later). I imagine all support (whether from Microsoft or someone else) eventually going away with time as Outlook Express has been well and thoroughly replaced.

Now, if you’re looking to move away from what Microsoft offers, I strongly recommend Mozilla Thunderbird. I’ve been using it myself on my PC for quite some time. It’s a very capable e-mail program with many options out of the box and huge quantity of free add-ons. It might seem a little quirky to some, but I’ve found it to be significantly better then the Microsoft offerings (I even game Windows Live Mail a chance for nearly a year before giving up on it).

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