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OL97: What Are Offline Folders and How Do You Use Them?

This article was previously published under Q161725
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This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
When you use Microsoft Outlook 97 with the Microsoft Exchange ServerInformation Service, you have the ability to work with folders "offline."That is, you can use the contents of a folder without a network connection,which is beneficial for remote users. This article discusses how you cancreate, use, and synchronize offline folders.
Offline folders are the quickest and easiest way to work offline withMicrosoft Exchange Server. Offline folders make it possible to take afolder from the Exchange Server location, work with the contents of thefolder and when connected to the network, update (synchronize) the foldersto make them identical.

Offline folders are stored in an offline folder file (OST). This file islocated on your computer hard disk. The default location for the OST isyour current Windows folder and is available even when the network is down.Like Personal Folders (PST), the OST can be compacted to save space on yourcomputer.

The difference between an Offline Folder file and a set of Personal Foldersis that the Offline Folder file starts as a mirror image of your folders onthe Exchange Server and works in conjunction with the Server duringsynchronization. A set of Personal Folders, on the other hand, is simply astorage location on your local disk or on a server other than the ExchangeServer.

When working offline, you can add, delete, and modify the contents of anoffline folder exactly as you do with a folder on a server. For example,you can change and move items in your offline Inbox, send messages that areplaced in your offline Outbox, and read your offline public folders. In themeantime, information on the server is still processing. You will continueto receive new messages in your Mailbox while other users can add, delete,and change items in public folders. However, you will not be aware of thesechanges on the server until you connect to the network.

When you need to update the contents of the Offline folder and itscorresponding server folder so that they are identical, you synchronize thefolders and then continue to work offline. The Synchronize command (on theTools menu) connects to the server through Dial-Up Networking, copies thechanges made in each folder to the other folder, and then disconnects. Anyitem that you delete from either the offline folder or the correspondingserver folder will be deleted from both after synchronization.

NOTE: Offline folders are only available with Microsoft Exchange Server.

Creating an Offline Folder File

To create an offline folder file, follow these steps:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Services.
  2. In the Services dialog box, select Microsoft Exchange Server, and then click the Properties button.
  3. In the Microsoft Exchange Server dialog box, click the Advanced tab, and then click the Offline Folder File Settings button.
  4. In the Offline Folder File Settings dialog box, in the File box, type the path to the file you want to use as the offline folder file.
  5. If the message stating that the "<path><filename>.ost could not be found. Would you like to create it?" appears, click the OK button.
  6. Click OK and OK.
NOTE: The client must be connected to the Exchange Server for the initialcreation and synchronization of the Offline Folder file.

All of the standard Outlook folders (Inbox, Outbox, Deleted Items, SentItems, Calendar, Contacts, Journal, Notes, and Tasks) on the ExchangeServer are now ready for offline use. You cannot selectively choose whichwill be available for offline use and which will not be available. Theexceptions to this are Public Folders and any user defined folders. To setPublic Folders for offline use, see the Working with Public Folders Offlinesection later in this article.

To set any user-defined folders for offline use, follow these steps:
  1. Right click on the user-defined folder and click Properties.
  2. Click the Synchronization Tab and select "When offline or online" from the "This folder is available" section.
  3. Click OK.
You cannot use an OST file that had previously been used with adifferent mailbox. Doing so produces the following error message:
The file <filename>.ost cannot be accessed because it has been configured for use with a different mailbox.
NOTE: When logging into Windows, you cannot press ESCAPE when prompted forthe Windows password. If you do, you will not be able to access the OSTbecause the proper credential information has not been supplied. This is asecurity feature.

Working with Public Folders Offline

To work with public folders offline, follow these steps:
  1. Using the right mouse button (right-click), click the public folder that you want to work with, and click Copy "<FolderName>" on the shortcut menu.
  2. In the Copy Folder dialog box, move to your Favorites Folder, and click OK.
  3. From your Favorites Folder, right-click the newly copied folder, and click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  4. Click the Synchronization Tab and select the "When Offline or online" option under the "This folder is available" section.
  5. Click OK.
Your Public Folder is now ready for offline use. Each folder that you copyto your Favorites Folder can now be selectively set for offline use.

To synchronize offline folders, use one of the following methods.

NOTE: When you synchronize, a log file appears as a message in your DeletedItems folder. This log file contains information such as the time yousynchronized, the names of the folders synchronized, and the number ofitems added.

Synchronizing a Specific Folder

To synchronize a specific folder, click the folder you want to synchronize,click Synchronize on the Tools menu, and then click This Folder.

Synchronizing All Folders

To synchronize all your offline folders, on the Toolsmenu, click Synchronize and then click All Folders.

Automatically Synchronizing All Folders When You Quit Outlook

To automatically synchronize all folders when you quit Outlook:
  1. Click Options on the Tools Menu.
  2. Click the General tab and click to select "When online, synchronize all folders upon exiting."
  3. Click OK.
All folders which are set to be available while offline will now beautomatically synchronized when you quit Outlook. It is important toSynchronize and download the Address book before you logoff from yourExchange Server when going on the road. This is particularly important whengoing on the road for the first time. This will ensure that all youroffline folders will be updated before you leave.

To download your address book, use the following steps:
  1. Click Synchronize on the Tools menu and select Download Address Book.
  2. Select to either Download the offline address book with or without details information and click OK.
Note that the Download Offline Address Book dialog contains informationconcerning the ramifications of downloading without detail information.

NOTE: Outlook's Remote Mail feature is not available if you are set forOffline Folder Use. For more detailed information about Remote Mail andhow to use it, please see the following article in the Microsoft KnowledgeBase:
162046 OL97: Remote Mail, Offline Folders, and Working Offline
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Article ID: 161725 - Last Review: 01/19/2007 20:54:33 - Revision: 1.1

  • Microsoft Outlook 97 Standard Edition
  • kbinfo KB161725