• Creator
  • #2229063

    Outlook Contacts and permissions


    by thumbsup2 ·

    OK, now it?s my turn for needing help. I?ll admit, this one has me stumped. I?m hoping someone has bumped into a similar situation and knows how to fix it. My intuition tells me what is causing it (see last paragraph), but I wanted to run it by all of you to confirm. Forgive the long post, but I feel it’s all relavent to explain the situation.

    Setup: Fairly new HP PIV w/1GB RAM (don?t remember the processor speed), WinXP Media Center Edition with one main user login, password protected and configured as a computer administrator (besides THE administrator account), Office 2003 Pro SP2, Symantec Internet Security (up to date as of 10/14) and some kind of anti-spyware program that I can?t remember the name of right now.

    Three days ago, the user called me and said their contacts had disappeared in Outlook 2003. I walked her through as much as I could over the phone, but couldn?t resolve the problem. According to her, nothing new had been installed or uninstalled recently. When she came home from work and checked her email, it had just quit working. The mail sends and receives, but contacts are gone. So, I scheduled a trip to go see her in person Friday night after work (she lives 50 miles away).

    When I arrived last night and tried to look at Outlook contacts, up pops an error saying the folder can not be displayed because she didn?t have the correct permissions (don?t remember exact wording). I tried navigating several different ways, lower left ?Contacts?, menu Go/Contacts, menu Tools/Address Book and toolbar icon for Address Book. Each displayed the same error in a popup window where you have to click OK. After clicking the button to dismiss the error, the Outlook window showed a blank ?page?, if you will, with the same general wording? the user does not have permission to display the folder. I checked the location of the data files and they were all set to the original file location (outlook.pst in HER username/local settings/application data?. yadda, yadda, yadda). Using Windows explorer to look at it, the file is there and it?s not set to read only. The date on the file was a couple of minutes before I looked, so I know it?s being written to. Logging in as THE administrator in safe mode to look at it doesn?t show anything unusual about the file either. The owner of the file is her username. I rebooted and logged back in as her and went to control panel/mail to check her profile, data file locations and email account settings. All showed exactly what I expected them to show. I fired Outlook back up to look for any further signs of damage and discovered the calendar, tasks, journal, notes and everything else BESIDES the mail all generated the same error (to click ok) and then a blank ?page? saying she doesn?t have permission to view the folder.

    The first thing I did was turn off Symantec and the anti-spyware programs, then did a ?detect and repair? of Office. That ran to completion with no errors, but didn?t fix the problem. I looked through add/remove programs to see if she was running any flaky software. I checked the processes running looking for anything out of line. I found nothing. So, thinking that her PST file was corrupt, I deleted the outlook profile through control panel and created a new one using a different PST file name. After creation, I imported all of her mail/contacts/etc? from the old PST file. Everything now works. The contacts are back. Her appointments were all listed in the calendar. The notes, tasks and everything else has returned to normal. The ONLY thing that did not import was the mail that she had sent/received in the last 3 days. I was able to file/open the old PST file and drag 3 days worth of mail from there into the new PST file and close the old one again. No errors were generated. But, I found it extremely disturbing that these 3 days worth of ?data? didn?t import into the new PST file along with the rest of it. Where was it hidden? The ?protected? contacts came over, but not the recent mail. If the mail is there when I file/open the old PST file and I had permission to drag it, then why didn?t the import work?

    Now, after I got Outlook up and running again, I decided to check a few other things while I was there, since this user doesn?t know the meaning of ?system maintenance? and I HATE it when I can?t explain why something happens. The first thing I notice is that Symantec wants to run Live Update, so I let it. Of course, the update will not complete (nothing is ever easy). It downloads but won?t install the updates. By this time it?s getting pretty late and I didn?t have time to mess with Symantec and its idiosyncrasies, so I told her that I would come back Sunday evening and finish. I have to make the trip again anyway (and I can?t just leave it the way it is).

    My intuition tells me that a few days ago (it was up to date as of 10/14), Symantec had attempted to update itself while Outlook was running and something blew up during the install. It set, or left behind, some kind of access permissions on the contacts, notes, journal, calendar, etc? ?folders? within Outlook and also on all new email sent/received after the blown install. When I return, I?ll force Symantec to update, one way or another. I know it can be extremely difficult to deal with at times, so I usually just get out the BIG club when dealing with it and force it into submission. 😉

    Anyway, am I way off base here, or do you think I?m on the right track? What else has the capability of setting ?permissions? on internal Outlook ?folders?, besides Outlook itself?

All Answers

  • Author
    • #2624413


      by thumbsup2 ·

      In reply to Outlook Contacts and permissions


    • #2624337


      by thumbsup2 ·

      In reply to Outlook Contacts and permissions

      ….. sorry, I’m sort of in a hurry for this one and don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.

    • #2624233


      by thumbsup2 ·

      In reply to Outlook Contacts and permissions


      • #2624218


        by rickrbyrne ·

        In reply to bump2……..


        From what I read everything seems correct, but the only thing that concerns me would be the symantec update. Are you sure that there is no Malware or anything else harmful on the computer???? Did you run a program like autorun, hijackthis, or ATF cleaner just to see if anything has it self hidden and burried, because one thing that I have hit many times, is malware attaching itself to symantec and useing its process to cause werid things to happen. IMHO I think you should fully check that system and make sure that nothing has attached to it. Also on a side note, did you try to move the PST to a totally different computer and try to import all the mail items, that could also help because you will then isolate the pst away from the system. Anyway please post back and let us know how it went.

        • #2624759

          Thanks, I hadn’t thought of that……..

          by thumbsup2 ·

          In reply to Well……….

          Hi Rick,

          Yes, I ran a couple of programs Friday night before I left along with instructions for her to run a few other things while I was gone. And today, downloaded and ran hijackthis. All came up clean. In addition, I manually looked at the registry today looking for anything out of place and found nothing. I’m satisfied that the computer is clean. It was full of all the crapware from HP that comes preloaded, which I promptly removed before my final check, but it’s clean otherwise.

          The one thing I hadn’t thought of was to isolate the PST file on a different computer. Good idea! So, after reading your post before I left today, I decided to bring the PST file back with me and put it on the test machine here. After creating a login to duplicate what was on the original machine, logging in and firing up Outlook to initialize a clean PST file and double checking that it all worked, I copied the dirty PST file over the top of the new one and fired Outlook back up again. The same thing happened on the test machine that happened to the user. Permission denied when trying to view anything BUT the inbox. I then created another profile and imported from the dirty PST file. Same thing. The contacts came over, but emails from the last few days did not. That PST file is just plain corrupt, beyond rescue.

          I think I found out how it happened though. As I suspected, Symantec did it. Read the solution post at the end of the thread.

    • #2624217


      by churdoo ·

      In reply to Outlook Contacts and permissions

      I’ve never seen these permissions errors in a non exchange-connected Outlook profile. Clearly some sort of internal corruption on the .pst file. One thing you didn’t mention in your post was performing a scanpst of the hosed .pst.

      But you got all of her mail and contacts back. Whatever this anomaly that happened to corrupt her .pst a few days ago, I think it’s fair to chalk it up to an isolated incident for now. Again, I’ve never seen this happen on a standalone .pst, and based on the lack of response to this post it looks like no one else has either, so fix Symantec and call it a day (I usually fix symantec internet security via add/remove programs, and then I install something more useful and less tempermental). Also consider a gotomeeting subscription to cut down your mileage.

      • #2624757

        not quite isolated………

        by thumbsup2 ·

        In reply to Nope

        Thanks Churdoo. Leave it up to my friend to find something that doesn’t happen to anybody else and wants me to “fix” it…. LOL

        However, it’s not quite an isolated case. Read the solution post at the end of the thread. It’s as I suspected. Symantec did it.

        • #2624658


          by churdoo ·

          In reply to not quite isolated………

          I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but you’ve got my curiosity too. You still haven’t mentioned if you’ve run scanpst.exe on the corrupt .pst file. I understand the explanation of the cause, and there may have been an easier way to recover from it should it happen again.

        • #2624616

          re: Just to satisfy your/our curiosity…….

          by thumbsup2 ·

          In reply to Scanpst

          Sorry, I forgot to mention that I did run scanpst yesterday while I was there. It did not fix the problem. I tried so many things that I forgot to mention it.

          I also ran scanpst just now on the copy of the PST file here on the test machine. It too did not fix the problem.

          I guess a permission issue is not considered to be a problem. 🙁

        • #2624491


          by churdoo ·

          In reply to re: Just to satisfy your/our curiosity…….

          for the followup info. Things that make you say “hmmmmm” for $100, Wink.

    • #2624752

      Solution….. ‘er…. at least an explanation found…..

      by thumbsup2 ·

      In reply to Outlook Contacts and permissions

      Well, after running every tool known to man, plus a few tricks that I have up my sleave, I was satisfied that the machine wasn’t infected with something. So, I started searching at Symantec for any known issues re: LiveUpdate.

      It turns out that LiveUpdate DOES fail on occation. And, when it does, Symantec logs it. If it fails enough times (to make it worth their while), Symantec issues a patch to fix it. According to the self help article that I found, their instructions are to wait a couple of weeks and try LiveUpdate again. In the mean time, the LiveUpdate file that is failing SHOULD be repaired. I guess they’re just like every other software company. Their QA stinks. Test it on the live “rats”, and if it doesn’t break, it must be ok! LOL!!!!!!

      So, my best guess as to what happened is that LiveUpdate tried to run and failed at the exact moment that Outlook was sending/receiving or doing some other function that would have been writing to the PST file. That left the PST file corrupt beyond recovery with the “permission issues”.

      My advise to the user? Don’t let LiveUpdate run while Outlook is open. LOL!!! ***sigh*** 😉

    • #2624745


      by travler92 ·

      In reply to Outlook Contacts and permissions

      If the PST was crapped out…why was the mail working (send and recieve) while all else was busted?
      Why the import failure of the last 3 days msgs when you tried to recover.
      All very strange but I have heard of wierd things happening if liveupdate goes balls up with other applications.
      No answer for you but will keep this in mind if I come accross a similar situation.


      • #2624623

        My point, exactly……

        by thumbsup2 ·

        In reply to OK….but

        It made absolutely no sense why part of a corrupt PST would work and other parts would not. Usually, either it works or it doesn’t.

        It only goes to show you exactly how far Symantec has its fingers burried into a system.

        If I ever find an explanation for this particular problem that satisfies our curiosity (how/why?), I’ll let everyone know.

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