Software

Outlook basics stump some members

More than 225 TechRepublic members took our Outlook pop quiz. Find out how they did and if you would have done any better.

When our members were polled about which e-mail application their organizations use, the overwhelming response was Microsoft Outlook. Regardless of whether you see Outlook's dominance as positive, the reality is that if you work in IT support, you'll eventually support Outlook.

So to find out how much our members know about Microsoft's venerable e-mail client and to help them bone up on their basic Outlook 2000 skills, we conducted a quick pop quiz. How well did our members do? Let's find out.

Changing Outlook's startup folders

Figure A


The correct answer is: Open the Options window, select the Other tab, click the Advanced Options button, and select the folder, and 61 percent of those who took the quiz got it right, as shown in Figure A. While it is possible to change Outlook's starting location, your choices are limited to: Outlook Today, Inbox, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Journal, and Notes.

Pushing the rules limit

Figure B


The correct answer is: About 40, but only 14 percent of those who took the quiz knew the answer, as shown in Figure B. I must admit that this has always been a tricky question and one that is not the easiest to answer because Outlook's rule limit is based not on the number of rules but on the memory that they require.

According to Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 241325, "Each rule is made up of seven parts. The rule properties themselves represent from 400 to 500 bytes of data without the recipients. Each recipient averages about from 400 to 500 bytes of space as well, and this data is stored in the conditions and restrictions portion of the rule. Distribution lists are considered one recipient and only take up from 400 to 500 bytes of space. The total amount of space that is allowed for each folder is 32 kilobytes (KB). Out of office e-mail messages are stored as rules, so they take up space as well." This 32 KB-limit equates to about 40 rules.

Repairing a corrupt PST file

Figure C


The correct answer is: Inbox Repair Tool, and 56 percent of our quiz takers got this one correct, as shown in Figure C. I admit this one was a bit tricky and the clue to the correct solution lay in the question's specification of a "damaged header."

According to a TechRepublic article by Brien Posey: "To fix corrupted PST files, you can use the Inbox Repair Tool. However, the tool isn’t always able to repair every PST file. It works by repairing the PST file’s header and then deleting anything in the file that it doesn’t understand. So if a PST file’s header is damaged, as may be the case for corruption that occurs during a version upgrade, the tool should have no trouble making the repair. But if the data within the file is corrupt, the Inbox Repair Tool will likely destroy what’s left of the file. That's why it's always good to make a backup of the PST file before running the Inbox Repair Tool.

"The Inbox Repair Tool is located in the C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\Mapi\1033\NT directory of any system that’s running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. The tool’s filename is Scanpst.exe. Other versions of Windows also include the Inbox Repair Tool, but the tool’s location varies among these earlier versions."

Why do good PST files go bad?

Figure D


As with Question 2, our quiz takers found this question rather difficult. The correct answer is: The file is instantly corrupted, but only 26 percent got it right. I know it sounds rather illogical that Outlook would not have a mechanism to prevent such corruption, but unfortunately it doesn't. So how do you fix an oversized PST file? Brien Poesy goes on to explain in the article above, "Another possible cause of corruption is that a PST file has a 2-GB size limit. Once this limit is exceeded, corruption occurs instantly. You can’t initially fix this problem with the Inbox Repair Tool. Instead, you’ll have to use the Oversized PST And OST Crop Utility first, and then follow up with the Inbox Repair Tool. The crop utility works by deleting about 25 MB of data from the file to bring the file back within specs. Use this tool as a last resort, because you can't control what data you lose when using it. You can get more detailed information from Microsoft by reading these Knowledge Base articles: 197315 and 296088. Click here to download the Oversized PST And OST Crop Utility.

Opening multiple mailboxes

Figure E


The correct answer is: Go to Tools | Services, select Microsoft Exchange Server, select Properties, click the Advanced tab, and click the Add button under Mailboxes section, and 51 percent of our quiz takers knew that this was correct, as shown in Figure E. For those who manage multiple mailboxes or serve as delegates for other's mailboxes, this can be an essential customization.

One item to remember, however, is that even if you have multiple e-mail boxes open, all e-mail is sent through the account that Outlook is currently using. This normally isn't a problem, but let's say you open the profile for your personal e-mail account, which you have configured to open your business account. Whether you reply to a message from the Inbox of the business account or your personal account the e-mail is sent from your personal account. This can cause a problem if you don't want everyone to have your personal e-mail address. The only way to send e-mail through the business account would be to restart Outlook, choosing to use the business account's profile instead of the personal one.

A little more study needed
Overall, I think these results are very promising, but our quiz takers need to study more on Outlook basics. I congratulate those who answered all or most of the questions correctly. For those who missed a few, I hope these answer explanations helped you improve your Outlook skills. As I mentioned in my previous pop quiz results articles, you get the TechPoints for just taking the quiz, not for getting all the answers correct. Good luck on our next pop quiz.

You be the teacher
If you have a topic you'd like us to cover in an upcoming pop quiz, we want to hear about it. Post a comment to this article or drop us a line and share your suggestions for both quiz topics and questions.

 

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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