We’ve seen this problem crop up quite a lot over the last 12 months so I though I would post the fix today so read on if your Outlook email client has suddenly started freezing and/or constantly restarting…
What is the problem?
Whilst trying to send an email your Microsoft Outlook 2003/2007/2010/2013 email client will suddenly stop responding and will ask you to restart the client. Once restarted the client freezes again and the cycle continues indefinitely preventing you from accessing your emails. The problem usually occurs with POP or IMAP email accounts only.
What’s the cause?
This problem is typically caused by a corrupt PST file. This file is used as a database where all of your emails are stored and usually resides in your My Documents folder inside a sub directory called My Outlook Files. It’s unclear exactly what causes the corruption but it is usually related to one or more emails getting stuck in your Outbox folder and refusing to send. You may also find that attempting to delete the files causes Outlook to freeze immediately.
What’s the solution?
One solution recommended by Microsoft is to repair your PST file but we’ve found limited success with this method. Sometimes the tool can successfully repair your PST but more often that not the problem will remain or reappear. If you have time then you can try this method first and see if it resolves the problem.
The solutions which DOES work reliably is to create a fresh PST file and transfer you emails across:
Open Outlook and immediately select the Send/Receive menu/ribbon and click the Work Offline option
It might take a few attempts to do this before outlook freezes, just keep trying until you get it
In some versions of Outlook you can select Work Offline by right clicking the icon in the task bar
You might need to restart outlook after selecting the Work Offline option for the change to take effect
With Work Offline enabled your Outlook client should remain open without freezing or going unresponsive. Go to the File menu/ribbon and choose the Add Account option at the top
Follow the wizard to add a new email account using the same settings from your existing/faulty account:
You will need to know your email address and password (and username if different from your email address)
You will need to know the POP/IMAP server details for your email account
If you are unsure of the server details then go to File > Accounts in Outlook and take a look at the settings in your old account
If you still can’t find these details then you shouldn’t proceed any further with this guide until you can find it. Try contacting your email provider for support.
Once your new account has been added it should show up in the left menu alongside your existing email account. It might have the same name as your old account except with a “(1)” after it so you should rename it now to something more distinctive:
Select the account name in the left hand bar (it appears just above the inbox folder)
Right click and select Data File Properties
Type a new name into the Name field and click OK
Now you need to transfer your emails:
Open your original inbox from your faulty account and select any email in the list
Press CTRL+A to select all emails in the list.
Your Outlook might freeze briefly while all emails are selected (it will have to think about it)
Once all emails are selected click and drag the emails from your old inbox to the new inbox you created above (be careful not to drag them into the wrong place)
Repeat the steps above for the Sent and Deleted folders
DON’T move the Outbox folder as you don’t want to risk bring the bad email/s across
Next we need to set the new account as your default email account:
Open the File menu/ribbon and choose Account Settings.
Under Accounts locate the new email account in the list and select it
Click “Set as Default” from menu bar
Under Data Files locate the new data file in the list and select it
Click “Set as Default” from the menu bar
Finally we need to close the old account to stop it freezing Outlook:
Right click the old account name (it appears just above the inbox folder)
Select Close Outlook Data File
The account should disappear from the list leaving the new account
With the old account removed you need to just need to disable Work Offline mode again and restart Outlook
That’s it! This process gives you a clean, new PST file which should resolve all of the freezing problems. Make sure you are really careful moving your emails so you don’t lose any.