If you’ve experienced disappearing e-mail in Outlook 98/2000, you are not alone. Recently, several users in my organization noticed they were losing e-mail messages from their Outlook Inboxes.

At first I thought this problem was an Exchange Server issue, but after careful scrutiny, the Exchange administrators could find nothing unusual. I was tempted to conclude that this problem was just another mysterious Outlook 98/2000 “feature.” Once I took a closer look at what these worried users had in common, however, another explanation emerged.

It’s all in the profile
The users who were losing messages had one thing in common: Each had just created a new Outlook profile on a secondary PC. These profiles would be used to remotely access their Outlook accounts and had been configured while these secondary computers were not connected to the LAN. This scenario caused Outlook to configure the Delivery Location for new messages to the default “Private Folders” option, as shown in Figure A. (To get to this dialog box with Outlook 98 running, open the Tools menu and choose Services.)

Figure A
If the delivery option is set to Private Folders, some remote users may wind up missing some of their messages.

To properly receive mail, the Delivery Location should have been configured for the user’s Exchange mailbox. When a user opens an Exchange mailbox with the “Private Folders” delivery location enabled, all inbox mail located on the server is transferred to the PC’s hard drive. That configuration causes the mail to disappear from the user’s inbox when the user logs on from his or her primary PC—even though that system is configured correctly.

Change the profile before launching Outlook
The remedy for this problem was pretty straightforward. The users accessed the network from their secondary PCs and then—before starting Outlook—changed the Delivery Location to use their Exchange mailbox.

But how do you change your mail settings without launching Outlook? There are two ways:

  • Right-click on the Outlook desktop icon (not a shortcut to Outlook, but the program’s icon itself). Choose Properties from the context menu.
  • Open the Control Panel and select Mail.

Each option displays the mailbox properties dialog box, like the one shown in Figure B. After my users specified their personal folders as the delivery location, they were then able to open their Outlook inboxes both locally and remotely with no problems.

Figure B
Users must change the delivery location for new mail before they launch Outlook.

If you’d like to share your experience with troubleshooting Outlook, please post a comment below or follow this link to write to Bill.

Bill Detwiler is a technical support services associate at LG&E Energy.