Microsoft Troubleshooting Tools for Outlook Released

Two free tools this month designed to help IT pros troubleshoot Microsoft Outlook e-mail clients have been released by the Redmond firm.

Outlook Configuration Analyzer Tool (OCAT) and Calendar Checking Tool for Outlook (CalCheck) assist help desk personnel in proactively detecting configuration problems in Outlook profiles using OCAT or in finding problems with the Outlook calendar using CalCheck. The diagnostic tools may assist users in finding fixes but they don't automatically correct the problems.

OCAT, an unsupported program that sports a graphical user interface, runs on Windows 7, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, and Windows XP SP3 and works with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or Microsoft Outlook 2010. OCAT can be used to scan an Outlook profile either online or offline; it generates a report file.

According to Microsoft's description of Outlook profiles, a profile is saved in the Windows registry and includes such details as the user's name and the e-mail server where the profile is stored. The tool includes information about where Outlook data (contacts, calendar, tasks, messages, etc.) are stored. OCAT will check for "known problems" in an Outlook profile and provide a link to a fix in a Knowledge Base article.

CalCheck is a command line-based tool that only runs on Windows 7. It works with Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 clients. In addition, it can be run on Microsoft Exchange Server, including Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010. The tool can be run in server mode, in which it tries to "open all mailboxes on the Exchange server," according to a Microsoft blog. It will create a log file after checking for permissions, delegates, free and busy information, direct booking settings and the total number of calendar items in the folder, along with a series of item-level checks.

Like OCAT, CalCheck does not automatically fix problems. CalCheck doesn't alter the items scanned, although users can add command switches to affect the behavior of the scan. For instance, adding an "-F" switch will move error items into a folder. CalCheck only works with Exchange-based calendars. It doesn't check calendar problems associated with IMAP- or POP3-based servers.

CalCheck users must have installed the Outlook calendar on the same server running Exchange to enable the scan to work, according to Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.