OL98: (CW) What Are Offline Folders and How Do You Use Them?

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When you use Microsoft Outlook 98 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.This article discusses how you can create, use, and synchronize offlinefolders.

Offline folders are only available with Microsoft Exchange Server.
More information
Offline folders are the quickest and easiest way to work offline withMicrosoft Exchange Server. Offline folders make it possible to work withthe contents of a Microsoft Exchange Server folder while not connected tothe network and then when connected to the network, synchronize thefolders.

Offline folders are stored in an offline folder file (.ost); the defaultlocation for the .OST is your current Windows folder. Like Personal Folders(PST), the .OST can be compacted to save space on your computer.

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 Microsoft Exchange Server and is updated by the server duringsynchronization. A set of Personal Folders, on the other hand, is simply astorage location on your hard disk or a server other than the MicrosoftExchange Server.

When working offline, you work with the contents of an offline folderexactly as you do with a folder on a server. For example, you can changeand move items in your offline Inbox, send messages that are placed in youroffline Outbox, and read your offline public folders. You will continue toreceive new messages in your Mailbox. However, you will not be aware ofthese changes on the server until you connect to the network.

When you need to update the contents of the Offline folder you synchronizethe folder with the server and then continue to work offline. TheSynchronize command, connects to the server through Dial-Up Networking,copies the changes made, and then disconnects. Any item that you deletefrom either the offline folder or the corresponding server folder will bedeleted from both after synchronization.

Creating an Offline Folder File

To create an offline folder file, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Services.
  2. Click to select Microsoft Exchange Server, and then click Properties.
  3. On the Advanced tab, click the Offline Folder File Settings.
  4. 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 OK.
  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 MicrosoftExchange Server are now ready for offline use. You cannot selectivelychoose which will be available for offline use and which will not be. Toset Public Folders for offline use, see the "Working with Public FoldersOffline" section in this article.

To set any user-defined folders for offline use, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the user-defined folder and click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  2. On the Synchronization tab click to select "When offline or online" from the "This folder is available" section.
  3. Click OK.
You cannot use an .ost file that has 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 you start Windows, do not press ESCAPE when prompted forthe Windows password, or you will not be able to access the .ost filebecause the proper credential information has not been supplied.

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 click to select "When Offline or online."
  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.

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.

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

Synchronizing a Specific Folder

To synchronize a specific folder, click to select the folder you want tosynchronize, on the Tools menu, click Synchronize and then click ThisFolder.

Synchronizing All Folders

On the Tools menu, click Synchronize and then click All Folders tosynchronize all your offline folders.

Automatically Synchronizing All Folders When You Quit Outlook

To automatically synchronize all folders when you quit Outlook, followthese steps:

  1. On the Tools Menu, click Options and then click the Mail Services tab.
  2. In Mail Options, select the Enable Offline Access check box and then select the "When online, synchronize all folders upon exiting" check box
  3. Click OK.
All folders that are available offline will now be automaticallysynchronized when you quit Outlook.

It is important to synchronize and download the Address book before you logoff the Microsoft Exchange Server. This is particularly important whengoing on the road for the first time to ensure that all your offlinefolders will be updated before you leave.

To download your address book, use the following steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Synchronize and click to select Download Address Book.
  2. Select either Download the offline address book with or without details information and click OK.
Note that the Download Offline Address Book dialog box contains informationconcerning the ramifications of downloading without detail information.

The 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:
ARTICLE-ID: 180418
TITLE : OL98: (CW) Remote Mail, Offline Folders, and Working Offline

Setting Which Folders Are Available Offline

You can control which folders in the exchange mailbox are available offline, and therefore, in your OST file on a folder-by-folder basis.
  1. On the View menu, click Folder List.
  2. Right-click the folder you want included in your OST synchronization, and then click Properties.
  3. Under the Synchronization tab under "This folder is available," click to select "When offline or online."
Note: When you synchronize your choices are "All Folders" or "This Folder." "All Folders" means all folders that have the available when offline or online property set. "This Folder" means the folder you have open. You cannot set to synchronize a specific group of folders on the fly.

Synchronizing Two Computers To the Same Mailbox

In order to synchronize two computers to the same mailbox, they must be synchronized individually. While multiple computers can connect to the same mailbox at the same time, only one can synchronize at a time. The synchronizations can be performed during the same session, but not simultaneously.

Article ID: 182158 - Last Review: 10/26/2013 14:18:00 - Revision: 2.0

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