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 had similar problems. My .pst was 420 MB…checking the large mail search folder showed the fattest messages. After deleting I compacted it, and it’s down to 250 MB. Feels a bit more spry.

    It does seem to hand quite a bit tho. There’s definitely some stability issues us early adopters have to deal with.

    I also had to create a new Outlook profile, before that I couldn’t send/receive new mail.

  2. I don’t suppose we could get you to take (another?) look at Lotus Notes — tested up to 64 gigabytes per local file, with a full text index providing search results in seconds…

  3. 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.

    Primary advantage compared to what? POP3 access? I’m not challenging you, I’m trying to understand what your point of reference is.

  4. Primary advantage compared to what? POP3 access?

    Compared to any mailbox that it is not server based. The Outlook/Exchange combination has all the advantages of a local store (work offline, take your mailbox with you), as well as the advantages of a server-based store, such as web-based mail access. If you regularly use more than one machine, such as a desktop and a laptop, this helps enormously.

    You can get this to some extent with any IMAP server, but Outlook/Exchange adds calendar, tasks etc which are also useful.

  5. OK, for me it hangs when I recive an HTML newsletter from CNN, everything else is fast, but displaying that one takes 10-20 seconds and my computer is SENDING information somewher because I see my LAN upload usage go up. I’ve read it has to do with “complex HTML”… Same message is quick in thunderbird or Opera Mail… so it’s Outlook’s fault.

  6. (Internet Email Users – Not Exchange)

    May be worth compacting the .pst file you have – deleting the emails still leave you with a fragmented mailbox store.

    I copmacted mine and noticed a huge performance increase on Outlook 2007.

    Whilst not trying to teach the educated, to compact the .pst (Close Outlook first) then – Control Panel > Mail > Click Data Files, Double-click “Personal Folders” and choose “Compact now” – Then start Outlook. It’ll take a little while to get going, then it should be a touch quicker.

  7. Exchange users can compact as well.

    Tools – Account settings – Select Exchange and click Change – click More Settings – Advanced tab – Offline Folder Settings – Compact Now

    Almost as intuitive as syncing a public folder…

    Unfortunately it did not make much difference in my case.


  8. Problem with RSS Feed in WordPress.
    I have a subdomain that I installed wordpress for another blog site, but the subdomain site's rss feed points to my parent site.
    Can anyone come up with any suggestions?

  9. I think the performance issues are with Windows XP. I have it installed on both XP and Vista going to the same exchange server. PCs are identical dell’s. On Vista it runs very fast, as fast as Outlook 2003 did if not faster. On XP it really slows down. Show to display HTML mail, slow to download messages (both PCs are setup to use exchange and download mail for 4 different POP3 servers. I have had no shut down issues but start-up time on XP is very slow. I wonder if Outlook 2007 was designed to run on Vista..???

  10. I think the performance issues are with Windows XP. I have it installed on both XP and Vista going to the same exchange

    This is interesting, thanks. I find Vista faster as well, though I get worse data corruption. I’m also not sure whether the difference is Vista, or clean install vs upgrade.

  11. 2007 with a 281meg INBOX PST and a 2.8gig ARCHIVE PST regularly hangs on SEND/RECEIVE and OUTLOOK shutdown. When restarting after this, it will NOT SEND/RECEIVE and you are required to open TASK MANAGER and manually END the offending OUTLOOK task. I have 10+ POP3 accounts being serviced, some SEND/RECEIVE fine, but it regularly hangs around 60%. LUDICROUS as 2003 worked like a charm. Time perhaps to look for alternatives, or roll back to 2003?????

  12. I have similar gripes. I am running Outlook 2007 and BCM on a new Dell Core 2 Duo Laptop with 1.5Gb ram and Outlook is so slow its almost unsuable. I think its something do with the index search functionality and the fact that BCM is running SQL 2005. its a shame because the extra functionality is great. I like the way Outlook can now search all Emails, including my archive psts in particular.

    I believe that the maximum recommended size for a PST is 2.0Gb so exceeding that may be part of the issue for other users.

  13. The main problem I currentl have is downloading from a POP serve!?!? Outlook seems to disconnect and reconnect randomly while downloading messages. I have 110 messages on the server and it never gets them downloaded?!?!

    Running an Vista with no problems….only the POP!

  14. Hello there,

    I completely agree here – my mailbox is >1GB and when i Send/Receive i can wait forever!

    Also, when organizing my mail, Outlook seems to hang for 20 sec. or so (moving mails from one folder to another).

    I never had these problems with the 2003 edition.

    Speaking generally (and I am a professional user of Microsoft software) it is my opinion, that the software released in 2006 has been of a quality I would not recommend to others.

    Is this a fair statement?

    I believe so – and when contacting Microsoft through various channels, you are somewhat ignored, but you have support from users – the customers of Microsoft.

    I am very troubled by this development, as I on a career basis have chosen Microsoft for my living bread.

    I guess I am out of context now, but to summarize: Outlook 2007 may appear nice and fancy on the UI part – but the functionality is decreased in quality compared with earlier versions of this product.

    The new functionality DOES NOT compensate for this 🙁

  15. Michael,

    I’m not sure how widespread the problem is beyond Outlook. But this is a real issue and I think we will hear even more about it next year when more people upgrade.


  16. My .pst is about 2.7GB. Outlook 2007 is extremely slow but only when a send or receive is happening. I have a new Thinkpad T60 dual core with 2 GB ram. Nothing should slow this computer down. I consider it a bug, and will not permit it to be deployed in my company until they fix it. I have about 400 desktops.

  17. I have similar .pst size of about 3Gb. I’m on a relatively new/fast desktop with a 10rpm drive… 5 POP accounts…TWO major problems:

    1. As countless others are reporting, it’s very slow on the Send/Receive operation. Annoyingly slow.

    Interestingly, i did a big Send/Receive recently (about 400 emails) and after about 30 emails (or about 5 minutes in outlook 2007 world and being locked out of doing anything at all) I said stuff it, and hit Cancel on the Send/Receive. Then a few minutes later, i did the Send/Receive again, and like magic, it felt like Outlook 2003 again. The rest of the emails came down in about 1 minute. Can’t explain it, and have not had a chance to try again..anyone else?

    2. HTML emails are a big headache in outlook. Poor thing. It’s so hard to generate HTML these days! Again MS had to create a new rendering engine for it. Has anyone else noticed the great new features of this engine?

    a) By default, emails are more trusted for standard images, and show up without having to do the “download images” bit..great! but alas, now all background images have been completely removed! everything…body backgrounds, style backgrounds…everything… WHAT THE @##%? if you trust standard images, why not the BG ones? can someone please explain this wonderful theory to me?

    b) no more FORMS in emails! i will miss these. customer doesn’t even have option to trust emails and get the forms. I have a feeling this is where MS managed to slow down the rendering, as it tries to represent the fields with text. For example, instead of a radio box, they draw a () in it’s spot..etc.. who knows what else it is doing which therefore causes the slow HTML rendering.

    Anyway, I am on Aaron on this. Who in their right might would roll this junk out? This would cripple a business by loss of productivity. Yes, it sounds severe, but when I have to resort to hours of searching on the net for answers, I know I have a dud on my hands. Where is the “Outook 2007 Anonymous” support group? 🙂

  18. Guys, I found the problem!!

    IP trace shows OL 2007 sends an AUTH command as the first command to the POP3 server(s).

    The server has an immediate FIT and sends
    “-ERR An authentication mechanism MUST be entered”

    OL 2003 does not send AUTH – reater “USER ..” SO, who is going to take this to the Microsoft script kiddies. Looks like the real programmers have retired…. Sigh..


  19. Hey Guys

    Just confirming the existing of the problem.. again…

    I first came across it when I used the beta of outlook 2007 about 4 months ago on my old laptop. I’ve since got a new laptop (Duel Core 1.83gz / 2Gig Ram) with Vista and have just setup 02007 and have the same problems.

    The only thing that has stayed the same is my mail server –

    We’re running an Linux IMAP server, over SSL (self issued cert), over a 1gbs lan – and it takes around 10 min to do a send a receive, about 2-3 mins to open a single email.

    By contrast, thunderbird does this tasks in an “instant”…

  20. Having similar issue with performance, running on an hp dv9000, 2gig ram, 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo. 4gig local ost file. Outlook is very slow, almost to the point where it is unusable :(, Really sux.

  21. Outlook 2007 is a disaster.

    Who the hell signed off on this as the RTM. This issue existed in the beta, I just assumed they would fix it by RTM, I can’t believe they released such a dud on everyone.

    The semi-painted windows take 3 minutes to display properly and it spikes the cpu to 100% which freezes the entire machine.

    Mail takes forever to download how could they not know about these issues ?

    Outlook 2007 is completely unusable at this point in time.

  22. Yeah, I got the same problem. I thought that Outlook 07 has a problem only with imap (aol) but as far as i see not only with that. I’m going back to OE or 03, cause this piece of trash is unusable

  23. Bruno…you are running a dv9000 series with windwos x64 ??????? if so you should PLEASE e-mail me at msmiielectronics @ yahoo with hwo you did it…I can’t get the NIC OR the sound working…..etc. etc..


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