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. Outlook 2007 fix –
    On a new Dell 640m with Vista I had a problem with delayed response in all aspects of Outlook 2007 and no other program. Every 10 seconds or so the program would be unresponsive for a second or two and then resume. It affected everything – composing emails, scrolling, clicking, etc.

    I called Dell for a fix. It involved uninstalling the program Outlook Addins Setup (Cyberlink). Outlook worked perfectly immediately after removing that program.

    Hopes this helps anyone with this particular problem.

  2. I’ve been having the slow send/receive issue with OL2007 and XP now for a few days. I’ve been searching for an XP solution to no avail. It seems to be a case by case basis since some people are having no issues and others are.

    I must say it is becoming increasingly frustrating to have my whole system hiccup for 10 seconds at times at the end of send/receives.

    I’ve turned off windows search/indexing, turned off add-ins, separated and compacted my PST files, and made sure my HD was nice and defragmented. What a pain.

  3. Hi everybody!
    Guys, I really tried everything and followed ALL your advices on this blog but… no success. My S/R is now a bit faster but compared to OL 2003, it’s a snail. And it still prevents the other applications to respond correctly while in S/R process.
    I’m really thinking about downgrading to 2003.
    Does somebody know what to do to keep my accounts (24!).


  4. Hello Again Dan,

    I take it that you upgraded from 2003 to 2007?

    What size are your PST files?

    So you’ve tried the creating a new mail profile?

    Can you go into the Send/Receive settings and set-up a new group that only checks one or two email accounts and see what performance is like then. Ensure you disable the default send/receive group. We want to see how it performs if you are only checking

    As long as you didn’t upgrade any PST files to the Outlook 2007 format then you should be able to uninstall Office 2007 and reinstall 2003. I don’t recall anyone saying it was a nightmare to do the downgrade. You could ask on the Microsoft Outlook public discussion group.

    As I said, give Outlook a go in safe mode and see if it behaves any better.


    Roundtrip Solutions

  5. I should have also said that Microsoft UK are going to be looking at my blog posting. If you’re experience problems and the standard fixes aren’t working then feel free to pass comment on my blog. It will catch their eye and we can work on getting your set-up working.

    Should also have stated that creating a new profile will end up being a nightmare for Dan as he imports or recreates all those email accounts. I thought 6 was bad! 24 – really? 🙂

  6. I have also tried the 3-4 fixes floating around the internet and still have the same issues. It is absolutely ridiculous to have my whole system stutter for 5-10 seconds at the end of each send/receive and takes far too long to download even small groups of emails.

    I am giving it a couple more days to find a real solution before going through the hassle of going back to 2003. What a waste of time.

    btw – my main mail file is around 1.9 gig … it was originally over 3 but I moved things into other pst files and compacted.

  7. Hi again,

    To give you some details: I did not UPGRADE from 2003 to 2007. I installed everything from scratch on a brand new Centrino Duo. But I retrieved my 2003 PST (1.5 GB) and saved it in the new 2007 OL format.
    Another thing is that I temporarily deleted my PST and started to work with one single account on the new and EMPTY PST. OK, it loads faster at startup but it takes up to 30 seconds to download my e-mail from just one account.


  8. > OK, it loads faster at startup but it takes up to 30 seconds
    > to download my e-mail from just one account.

    It does seem that there are several distinct problems with Outlook 2007. There is the issue we know about, which is that large personal stores which worked fine in Outlook 2003 choke the new software. But there seems to be a separate issue with POP3 mail collection, for which we have not yet nailed down the cause. If it is specific to certain POP3 servers it could still be related to the AUTH issue I guess.


  9. We need to get people to enable logging and report their results to a send/receive cycle. This will show if the AUTH problem is choking Outlook.

    I’ve got the ear of senior UK managers at Microsoft so the more info we can get to them the better the chances it will be fixed super fast.

  10. While writing up my blog entry it occurred to me all the steps I’d taken on the road to getting Outlook working successfully. So to summarise elsewhere:
    – Created a new mail profile
    – Recreated the account settings
    – Imported old PST
    – Created new PSTs (x5) and sorted email from the main PST into those
    – Compacted the main PST
    – Removed the old profile
    – Disabled plugins
    – Turned off various options
    – Renamed the Outlook configuration files outlined above

    Large PST files are a killer by the looks of it. I found anything above 600MB could be troublesome. This is a real pain as I had to create and sort messages into multiple PST files.

    For people that are having problems with small PST files then we need you to do the logging step and report your logs. Details on my blog entry on how to do this.

    We’ve got to start somewhere!



    p.s. Sorry Tim, managed to screw up my close tags. Please delete the previous comment.

  11. I’ve the exact same problem before with extremely slow running Outlook 2007. My pst file is less than 100 MB.

    Today, I updated the Windows Desktop Search to 3.0, and suddenly Outlook 2007 is running at normal speed again.

  12. Ming wrote:
    “I’ve the exact same problem before with extremely slow running Outlook 2007. My pst file is less than 100 MB.

    Today, I updated the Windows Desktop Search to 3.0, and suddenly Outlook 2007 is running at normal speed again.”

    Windows Desktop Search 3 is the only version that will work properly with Outlook 2007. Previous version will cause all kinds of problems!

    Download Windows Desktop Search 3 here

  13. Hey Guys!

    Don’t lose the focus here! Several cases happen on brand new (and powerful) machines, with fresh installations of Office 2007 (no upgrades) and small PST files. Even in these ideal conditions, we still don’t reach 10% of the performances we had in OL 2003. Speaking about “Windows Destop Search”, “Business Contact Manager” or any other MS add-in or Complement is a mistake. They may have a bad influence on performances… as long as they are installed. And for some of us, it is not the case.

    So, let’s go back to the beginning!

    – The performance of the machine is not the main cause (I have a Centrino Dual Core 2 GHz with 1 GB of RAM).
    – The upgrade process is not the main cause (I have a fresh installation).
    – The add-ons or Office Complement are not the main cause (I have none).
    – The PST size is not the main cause (I created a new empty PST with a single mail account. It lasts for ages to get my mail).

    So what? After two weeks looking for a solution, I simply believe that Outlook 2007 (and the whole Office 2007 Suite by the way) is far from being ready. With my new installation, which is 50% more powerful than the previous one, I’ve lost (in average) 50% of the performances I had before. Office documents take sometimes up to 30 seconds to open when I double click on them, I have much more application crashes, I ruin my eyes with the new ClearTyped fonts and I loose hours reading and writing desperate messages in forums.

    At least, I found a new name for Microsoft Office 2007: “Microsoft Office Gotcha!”. But I’m still not sure if they could be interested…

    I’m downgrading to 2003.



  14. I am going to downgrade as well. The performance of Outlook 2007 is RIDICULOUS. I’ve lost so much productivity over the last week – not only because of Outlook being ridiculously slow but taking time try to fix it and search for solutions. It is obvious from searching the net these problems existed in the BETA but were not fully addressed prior to launching to the world. That is completely unacceptable.

    I have never actually had to downgrade Office. Can someone fill me in on what steps need to be taken?

  15. Hello all,

    After having read everything here, here is what I figured out, at least with my setup.

    I have experienced similar slowness with poor add-ins that I didnt know were being installed in Outlook 2003. That being said, here is my experience.

    Current Machine: Dell Inspiron 6400, 2.0 gHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 160 GB HDD, XP SP2, Office 2003; 30 Days old.

    New Machine: Same Setup (exactly), Vista Business, Office 2007 Enterprise.

    I had experienced similar slowness with my 2GB pst file, in RPC over HTTP Exchange Mode. Almost unsuable. Since I had a similar feel of slowness in 2003 with a poor spam filter addin, I tried disabling them. Several would not allow me to disable, until I went to the Outlook program executable properties (As outlined above) and had it run as administrator all the time.

    Since then, I disabled several addins that I will probably not use. Indexing is still intact, and my outlook now performs exactly as it should.

  16. Update: I have one by one re-enabled the addins, with the exception of One Note, and the cyberlink Media Direct plugins, and have 0 problems.

    I also uninstalled BCM, and had an additional performance upgrade.

  17. we should move to star office. Office 2007 is an insult. It is so slow, we had to remove it and will never install it again.
    shame on microsoft , they are just the worst company with incompetent programmers

  18. I just got a new Dell laptop, 2GB Ram, Centrion Duo 1.6GHZ with Vista Business and Office 2007 pre-installed.

    I’ve had the same general slowness, although not the POP issue. I tried taking my .pst from 800 MB to 250 MB through archiving but it didn’t help.

    Uninstalling the “Cyberlink Outlook Addin” that Dell installed worked though! I uninstalled through Control Panel. Now Outlook is pretty much like 2003, certainly it’s useable now unlike the first week of misery…

    It looks like there are a variety of issues affecting Outlook 2007 but for me removing the Dell/Cyberlink addin did the trick.

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