Top 10 Ways to Improve Microsoft Outlook Performance

Summary: Tired of MS Outlook plodding along like a snail? Perk it up with these simple tricks!

I had a peer who started using MS Outlook a while ago to manage her POP and IMAP mails. In fact I’d suggested her to switch to the platform since it was quite user friendly and was packed with better features than others. However, I recently got a call from her saying she was switching back to her old platform since Outlook was just not ready to work. It would hang, crash, and just get stuck for hours while syncing mails. This email client’s sluggish speed was getting too frustrating for her to handle.

To set her at ease, I suggested her a few easy tips and tricks that would help speed up Outlook considerably. She tried them out and voila, the problem was solved! She couldn’t be happier with the results and now recommends everyone to use Outlook.

1. If you’ve faced Outlook performance issues and are looking for the right solution, here are the tips that I shared with my peer — Archive old Inbox items

One of the most common reasons for poor Outlook performance is huge Inbox size. If you don’t purge your Outlook inbox of old emails regularly, it’ll end up getting heavier. So much so that Outlook won’t be able to load your Inbox items whenever you start it up. Therefore, clear the unnecessary items. And if you still intend to keep them, then archive it. When you archive, a new data file is created to store all archived data so that Outlook doesn’t have to hold everything in one oversized data file (PST or OST).

2. Compress Outlook PST

This step is linked to the previous one. If your Outlook PST file size is getting out of hand, you may want to compress it. The most common way to do it is by deleting old data permanently. However, it is important to note that deleting items from the Outlook mailbox doesn’t reduce the size of the PST.

Compact Outlook PST

Therefore, to reduce its size, you need some extra measures. For example, in Outlook 2010:

a. Go to Account Settings -> Data Files

b. Select the data file (PST) to be compacted

c. Click Settings -> Advanced -> Outlook Data File Settings

d. Click Compact Now

If this doesn’t work, you can leverage a reliable third-party PST compressing tool.

3. Turn off Add-ins

The saying — every coin has two sides — couldn’t be more apt for Outlook add-ins. While add-ins provide you with additional Outlook features, faulty ones can often be the source of many problems. They may install additional programs in the background, contain bugs, etc. So to improve Outlook performance, turn off any add-ins you don’t need or don’t remember installing. To do this in Outlook 2010:

a. Go to Options -> Add-ins

b. Select COM Add-ins from the drop-down

c. Click the Go button

You should then see a list of all installed Outlook add-ins. Uncheck the ones you wish to remove.

4. Repair Outlook PST

Not only does an overweight PST slowdown Outlook performance, it also becomes prone to damage and corruption. If Outlook PST becomes damaged, it can cause Outlook problems like freezing and crashing. Thus, repair outlook pst by using the inbuilt ScanPST.exe tool. However, before you begin with the repair process, take a backup of the faulty PST first.

Corrupt Outlook PST

Note: Sometimes, ScanPST.exe fails to repair severely corrupt PST files. In such situations, use Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair — Technician. This tool can help carry out a number of PST related tasks such as repair, compression, splitting, etc.

5. Disable RSS

By default, RSS feeds from Internet Explorer are synced to Outlook’s RSS reader. If you have a lot of RSS feeds bookmarked in IE, the syncing can negatively impact Outlook performance. Disable it in Outlook 2010 by following the below steps:

a. Go to Options -> Advanced

b. Uncheck both options under RSS Feeds

6. Use Cached Exchange Mode

If you use Outlook as connected with Exchange, reading data across the network can cause performance glitches for Outlook. Thus, start using Cached Exchange Mode. What this mode does is take the Exchange server’s PST file and cache it on your local machine as an OST. Thereafter, all changes you make are saved within the OST and synced with the server at the end of the day. This way, you can score major points in boosting Outlook performance.

7. Minimize Publishing and Sharing Calendars

When you publish and share Outlook Calendars, downloading and uploading data to and from the Internet strikes a blow at Outlook’s performance. Thus, cut it down a bit. Sharing one or two Calendars over a super-fast connection should be ok, but anything above that will affect Outlook performance.

8. Download Entire Messages

Generally, when Outlook is connected to POP or IMAP, it downloads only message headers and reads the rest of the text from the server. This causes a slight performance lag if your Internet connection is not lightning fast. Thus, turn on the setting to download complete messages, including attachments, instead of just the headers.

9. Fix Connectors with Other Apps

Many Outlook users use other apps in conjunction with Outlook, like ShoreTel Communicator. When using such apps, what most users overlook is that the connectors making such integration possible can also suffer issues causing side-effects on Outlook performance. Thus, if you use any such integrated apps with Outlook, make sure all connectors are up to date and working perfectly.

10. Update Windows

This could come as obvious but updating Windows as well as Outlook is important. Often, system updates are meant to fix hidden bugs in applications resulting in better performance. So why stop them unnecessarily? If you have stopped updates from installing automatically, view them and enable all the ones targeted at Outlook or Exchange.

Wrapping it up

Hopefully these tricks should deliver a much smoother Outlook experience!

Switching email platforms is a mammoth task thus taking considerable time. Thus, if you’re facing issues with Outlook, try to resolve them at your end first by employing any of the above methods.