Outlook 2007 is slow, RSS broken

Users are reporting that Outlook 2007 is slow – much slower than Outlook 2003, which it is meant to replace.

Experiences vary, but the worst affected are those with large mailboxes. Large in this context means thousands of messages and several GB size. Looking at the newsgroups there may be a particular problem with Outlook on 64-bit Windows. I’m not impressed; though it’s not yet clear how widespread the problem is. I’d be interested in comments.

Confession time: I have a huge mailbox. That means I can easily find old email correspondence, and that’s a feature I value. Furthermore, I lack the time or patience to sift through and delete what is no longer required. Unfortunately, the most effective advice for those suffering from slow Outlook 2007 installations seems to be: reduce the size of your mailbox.

While there may be good organizational reasons for doing this, it seems odd that it is needed on today’s machines, with vast amounts of RAM and disk space, and unspeakably fast CPUs. And if you use Exchange, be sure that you archive to a server location, otherwise you can end up with several little archives littered over every machine you use, and they likely will not be backed up.

Why should users have to prune their mailbox because the very latest Outlook cannot cope with it as well as the older version? Surely it is not that difficult to query and display emails from a local database?

I’m also disappointed that, for all the talk of user experience, the new Outlook does not slow down gracefully. You know the kind of thing: you start the application and an unresponsive, semi-painted window appears for a while. You click to change folders and the application appears to hang. You click to drop-down a menu and the application freezes for several seconds. Isn’t this the kind of thing that background threads are meant to help with?

As for RSS, I can’t make sense of what Outlook 2007’s designers were aiming at here. Note that I think the RSS central store, installed with IE7, is a great idea. However, “central store” in this context means central to the local machine. What Outlook seems to do is to copy the contents of this store to your mailbox and then keep it synchronized. I think that’s a mistake: mailboxes are big enough already, and Outlook would do better to query the central store dynamically.

The real problem comes when you use Outlook with Exchange. Many users take advantage of the server-side mailboxes in Exchange by using Outlook on several different machines, all pointing to the same Exchange mailbox. For me, this is the primary advantage of Exchange and Outlook. But what if those several different machines have different RSS feeds in their central store, or even the same ones?

So far, it appears that Outlook cannot cope. I end up with duplicate feeds, I end up with feeds showing in the RSS feeds folder that are not listed in Tools – Account Settings – RSS Feeds; in fact this list is empty on my desktop machine, Sync is turned off, but I still have a ton of feeds in the Outlook RSS feeds folder.

It seems simple to me. Either Outlook’s RSS integration should be 100% local, in which case you just see what is in the central store on your current machine. Or it should be 100% server-based, in which case Exchange should handle the RSS updates. Mixing the two is just silly.

Tip for improving Outlook performance: if you are happy to do this, go into Tools – Account settings – Microsoft Exchange Server – Change – More settings – Security, and remove the checkbox from “Encrypt data between Outlook and Exchange”. Other factors may be search engine integration (Microsoft’s or other), A/V integration, or other add-ins.

Bottom line: I suggest caution before rolling this out over a network.

Update: other tips you can try

A few other things that have helped people:

  1. Exchange users: Remove Outlook 2003 and do a clean install of Outlook 2007, making sure that a new offline store is created from scratch.
  2. Run on Vista.
  3. Turn off indexing. Tools – Options – Search options – uncheck all folders. It’s a shame to do this as the indexed search is useful.
  4. Let indexing complete. Might be worth leaving the machine running overnight.
  5. Reduce the size of your mailbox (of course).

The above will not solve all the problems, but can mitigate performance issues.

Further update

Microsoft has posted some official workarounds. See here for comment and link

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196 thoughts on “Outlook 2007 is slow, RSS broken”

  1. I do not have Vista but I did make the mistake of investing in Office/Outlook 2007. Have gone through my free 90-days with no charge help (made approximately 20 help calls/6-7 separate case numbers). To this day I have to start Outlook by itself (usually 2 t0 3 times before it works) and as soon as I open a browser, forget it – – OUTLOOK LOCKS UP. I can’t make myself pay to have Microsoft help me fix something that has never worked. All I can do is get an Apple computer ASAP.

  2. After struggling with Outlook 2007 and Vista in a Server 2003 environment, I burned one of my Microsoft Partner cases on this one. They had me run the following command and it instantly speed up my Outlook and Public Folders…my cost is your gain, run the following with administrative priveledge:

    netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=normal
    (same as above) with autotuninglevel=disable

    Hope this helps!

  3. Experiment ongoing: didn’t have the add-ons, and no antivirus yet (new build on a new machine). I tried to uninstall SP1, but it was not listed in Add/Remove Programs. So I removed Office 2007 entirely, reinstalled, and w/o SP1 the new profile snapped open immediately and everything worked.

    After re-install, then followed-up with SP1 – and it seems to be working.
    Hope this helps someone.

  4. Same here we’ve had serious issues rolling out Office 2007 even with SP1. Outlook 2007 SP1 freezes for several seconds routinely when trying to compose emails or work through your email account.

    I’m not an M$ hater as someone earlier blindly put on this thread. However it does seems a pretty consistent problem with much of the current generation of Microsoft products that seem to stem from them losing touch and not listening to their customers needs. Surely someone at Microsoft must have evaluated and noted the serious performance issues with Office 2007. But what the hell we’ve reached the end of our allocated product development cycle so let’s get it out of the door.

    In addition the interface and functionality of MS software now seems to be entirely based around what MS decides is best for customers which results in often established and succesful methods being discarded for something new. Vista’s useless search facility that only searches for items Microsoft have decided you want to search for by default is a typical example.

    I guess product differentation is ultimately more import to MS than meeting customers needs. After all how many times can you repackage a word processor or email suite?

    We’ve reached the point where we are seriously considering switching to a Linux platform rather than paying for Microsoft’s ever more expensive license model that just seems to deliver defective software.

    The WOW starts now!

  5. The answer given in post 178 is correct for Vista / Outlook 2007 combo, which is great – however, this does not work for XP, as XP does not recognise the command. Anyone know what the equivalent command for XP is please?

  6. Anyone know what the equivalent command for XP is please?

    I don’t think there is one, since that exact problem probably doesn’t exist on XP. There are multiple reasons why Outlook 2007 is slow.


  7. HI,
    Got the problem when Outlook takes a long time to send/recieve and also will only open one email at a time.

    I have a vista business machine (Dual core 2GB) running a clean install of OFfice 2007. WHen I login under my own account it works OK. When I login under another user, it exhibits the behaviour above. I’ve tried the TCP fix and disabling add-ins. There is now Dell Program as previously mentioned (though it’s a Dell PC).

    I have lost faith with Office 2007. Can someone in Microsoft fix this?

  8. Here’s a workaround which is *amazingly* effective for me. When Outlook 2007 on Vista freezes up when trying to save a contact or an appointment or send an email, go to the icon in the bottom right corner of the taskbar and right click. Select “Cancel Server Request.” Works perfectly!

  9. Outlook has always been slow. It takes up massive amounts of computer memory. the only G*d Damn reason I keep this thing is because it syncs up to my phone…

    I can easily change my mail software to Mozilla’s (the maker of FireFox) Thunderbird, but I can’t change how my phone syncs up with my contacts.

  10. Sorely disappointed with OL 2007. I use IMAP and specifically bought the new version of Outlook to replace Outlook 2003, because I was looking for improved IMAP performance. Outlook 2007 on my XP system is dead slow to start, then gets to 81% of my (4 Gig) IMAP folders and… dies. Gad, Thunderbird is even more useless for IMAP – what am I gonna do? But, for sure, this is just one more nail in the coffin for MS on my machines; I’m running a business, no bloatware cemetery.

  11. i got a huge performance improvement after using contig -v -s %userdir%/local settings/application data/Microsoft/outlook

    My 2gb OST file was in 1500+ fragments before. Contig managed to assemble it to 5 fragments and now OL2007 is tolerable.

  12. OMG -I have been dying from this issue. I looked for a solution for three weeks, and tried everything and then today I found it!

    This only applies for outlook 2007 using a pop 3 to download mail. Go to Tools>Trust Center> Addins> Manage>Go, and deselect all the add ins in all three drop downs including Exchange Client Extensions” Once this is done restart outlook. I dont remember it being this fast, next, reenable one add in at a time,(only the ones you need).

    BTW – logging into safe mode might not tell you this will work since safe mode enables the exchange client extensions.

    I also found the following URLS helpful
    <a href = “http://www.roundtripsolutions.com/blog/2007/02/19/208/problem-with-outlook-2007-email-receive-is-broken/”

    <a href = “http://www.slipstick.net/outlook/ol2007/slow.htm#more” >

    Hope this helps

  13. My Outlook 2007 started to duplicate incoming mails.

    My ISP suggested removing my e-mail account from Outlook 2007, which I did.

    Whilst I stopped receiving duplicates, I still received e-mails addressed to the account I had removed!!! And, with this account now “non-existent” in Outlook 2007 I didn’t even have the convenience of even being able to reply to my “ghost mail” in Outlook 2007 – so still had to transfer over to my ISP account.

    So I entered my e-mail account back into Outlook 2007, and now I am back to receiving duplicate mails!

    How can I remove the “ghost” account and leave just my own???

    Thanks if you can help!

  14. My problem with outlook 2007 is different from those stated above…works great in every way except when I attach a file to an email. I can go to the directory where my attachment is located, but when I choose a sub-folder from that directory, the computer hangs for at least a full minute. I have a fast laptop running XP PRO SP3

  15. My Outlook 2007 spins up my external hard drive everytime i click on a message. It seems as though Outlook is trying to access my external Hard Drive, but i have NO .pst nor .ost files on my external HD, i only have Pictures, .jpg, .gif, etc. etc.

    Why would Outlook need to access my external HD?

    Outlook 2003 is a better product in every sense.

  16. Hi, I have read most of this thread. Essentially I am operating XP with Outlook 2003. My pop3 account works great, no hangs, crashes or moments of “hold on while I think about this”. However I have my AOL configured too which of course is IMAP. This forever gives long hangs, delays at times crashes. Simply put I get very frustrated at the time it takes to even view an email in the reading pane let alone switch to the next email.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated – is this incurable?

  17. It has been over a year since the last post, but this website ranks near the top in Google search for “ms outlook 2007 switching folders slow.” Anyway, I have no solutions; but MS Outlook 07 runs f*cking slow. Any suggestion for alternative email clients that can handle large PSTs?

  18. @Barry McKawkiner
    There are quite a lot of other email clients (just read the article on wikipedia 😉 but I don’t know if they are able to handle large PST-Files. Some people say the best way is to reduce the size of your PST-Files, 10 PST-Files with 1GB each is better than one huge 10GB-PST-File. It is also said that the instant search of Outlook is faster with small PST-Files (no idea if this is true, I am using lookeen which can also handle huge PST-Files) but as I never had problems with large PST-Files there might be another problem?

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