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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Outlook "Disconnected"

Is your Outlook showing "Disconnected" in the bottom right corner and you're connecting to an Exchange Server (not POP, etc.)?

All the following information is to be used at your own risk – I have successfully used all the below methods in production environments, and without issue. I cannot, however, speak for your environment. Please be sure to consult with your local IT support before acting on any of this advice.
Quick troubleshooting check list (detailed explanations follow):
  1. Is the issue affecting multiple users or only one?
    If multiple staff are affected, this blog can't help you [yet].
  2. Can you ‘ping’ the Exchange server from the PC with the issue?
  3. Check network cable / confirm access to other network resources is without issue
  4. Try restart the PC
  5. Is Outlook in 'Work Offline' mode?
  6. Try setting Outlook to 'Work Offline' mode and then taking it out of 'Work Offline' mode again
  7. Clear the PC's Local Security Log / Logs and then restart the PC
  8. Try an Active Directory (LAN) account password reset / unlock / status check.
    Make sure it hasn't expired / been suspended too.
  9. Create a new Outlook profile via the 'mail' Control Panel and set it to the default
  10. Try a 'Detect and Repair' from Outlook's Help menu or Repair Office via Add / Remove Programs Control Panel
  11. Try disabling 'Cached Exchange Mode' (last resort and should only be used as a workaround until proper resolution is found)
  12. Call Microsoft support in your country
For the explanations of each of these troubleshooting steps, read on....


Is the issue affecting multiple users or only one?
If multiple staff are affected, this blog can't help you [yet].

1st thing to check is this ... is the issue affecting one user or multiple (company wide)?
If the issue affecting multiple users, this blog will probably prove useless [at this stage] - best to contact your IT / Server Management department.

If your colleagues or other staff are NOT having the issue and it is only affecting 1 or 2 people - then this blog post should be helpful.

Can you ‘ping’ the Exchange server from the PC with the issue?
First off, you should try to ‘ping’ the Exchange server.
‘ping’ is a utility that comes with pretty much any operating system – it is useful for determining if a particular host / server is reachable across your network – from the PC you are running it.
To do this, you first need to know the Exchange Server name – which you can find in Outlook
  1. In Outlook, select the ‘Tools’ menu
  2. Then ‘Email Accounts’
  3. Then ‘Next’
  4. Then ‘Change’
  5. Copy the bit next to ‘Microsoft Exchange Server’ e.g. myexchange.mydomain.com
Right, now you have the Exchange Server name, lets try to ‘ping’ it
  1. Click ‘Start’ (Windows ‘Start’ menu)
  2. Click ‘Run’
  3. Enter ‘CMD’ (without the ‘’) and click OK
  4. A black window will appear, aka CMD / DOS Window / Command Prompt
  5. Type, into this CMD window, ‘ping’ followed by the Exchange Server name and then press Enter. See the example below (be sure to replace myexchange.mydomain.com with the server name you garnished from Outlook before)

    ping myexchange.mydomain.com
  6. The ‘ping’ utility will then run for a few seconds and output some info into the CMD window.
  7. If the responses are “Request timed out” – then network connectivity is likely your issue.
  8. If the responses are summed up at the end with “Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0” then network connectivity is not the issue and the next step (“Check network cable / confirm access to other network resources is without issue”) can be skipped.

Check network cable / confirm access to other network resources is without issue
Right, if you had issue with ping coming back with “Request timed out” – you should check your network connectivity.
A simple check is to open up your web browser of choice and try navigate to a web page you have not visited. Odds are if you are reading this blog post from the PC in question, you can skip to the next step (“Try restart the PC”).  A Google search of random characters is normally a good option – if you can get results, you have some form of network connectivity – but for some reason can’t communicate with Exchange.
Random characters
If you can’t get results from a Google search, or get to www.google.com for that matter, you might find your network cable is unplugged (or even worse, the network admins may have accidentally un-patched your network port).
So, unplug your network cable from the wall and then re-plug it back in, nice and firm.
Then do the same, but this time unplug it from the back of your PC and then back in, nice and firm. You should see some flashing LED’s/lights where you plug in your cable (at the PC).
If you can’t see any lights, try the next step (restart the PC) – but if that fails, consult with your network administrators first – before pursuing any additional troubleshooting steps from this blog post.

Try restart the PC
Next thing to try, quoting Roy from 'The IT Crowd' - "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"
Yes, like many PC problems - a simple PC restart could fix the issue - so before pressing on, be sure to restart your PC and then test again.

Right, you've restarted your PC and it's still not working??? Next thing to try:

Is Outlook in 'Work Offline' mode? / Try setting Outlook to 'Work Offline' mode and then taking it out of 'Work Offline' mode again
  1. With Outlook open
  2. Click on 'Disconnected' (should be very bottom right hand corner of Outlook - you should know this 'cause it's probably why you're here to start with)
  3. A context menu list appears
  4. If 'Work Offline' is ticked, then click 'Work Offline' to ‘un-tick’ it. This should solve your problem immediately.
  5. If 'Work Offline' was NOT ticked, then click 'Work Offline' to 'tick' it
  6. Then click on 'Disconnected' (again)
  7. Click 'Work Offline' (again) to 'un-tick' it.
    Work Offline - ticked       Work Offline - unticked
If Outlook was in 'Work Offline' mode, un-ticking it puts it back into 'Online' mode, which is good - and should mean that you would probably not be reading any further (unless you want to expand your general troubleshooting knowledge or post a comment at the end).

If Outlook wasn't in 'Work Offline' mode, by putting it into 'Work Offline' and then taking it out of 'Work Offline' mode (by 'ticking' and then 'un-ticking' Work Offline) can sometimes be enough to kick it into action.

Clear the PC's Local Security Log / Logs and then restart the PC

Still no good? Another thing to try per comment from 'Rob' in this post's comments...
Rob said... "In my case the local security log was full..."
"The local what log was who now?" - you say. OK, to clear the 'local security log', do the following:

For XP:
  1. Close Outlook

  2. Locate your 'My Computer' icon (either on your Desktop in your Start menu

  3. Right-Click on your 'My Computer' icon and click 'Manage' (this will open the Computer Management Console)


  4. If you can't find 'My Computer' -> an alternative route to the 'Computer Management' Console is as follows:
    Click 'Start' -> 'Control Panel' -> (in 'Classic View') 'Administrative Tools' -> 'Computer Management'

  5. In Computer Management,
    * Expand out 'System Tools' (click the little '+' sign)
    * Expand out 'Event Viewer' (click the little '+' sign)
    * Select 'Security' (Left-Click)
    * Right-Click 'Security'
    * Select 'Clear All Events' (Left-Click)
    * Agree to any prompts

    [see image below -> if you click on the below image, the full sized version will open up]



  6. Close 'Computer Management'

  7. Re-open Outlook - the problem should go away
  8. You may need to restart your PC at this point, I don't thinks so - but it wouldn't hurt

If that didn't work, you can try doing the same again, except this time 'Clear All Events' for 'System' and 'Application' - in the 'Even Viewer' section - as above.

Try an Active Directory (LAN) account password reset / unlock / status check.
Make sure it hasn't expired / been suspended too.

Call your IT support help desk and ask for this to be done. Restart your PC and login with the new password.
AD Account Password reset / account unlock (sometimes the account could have become locked, expired, or other - while you were already logged in and then you would be denied access to the Exchange Server. Admittedly, you would likely get bugged with a popup asking for username and password - but hey - it's worth a try.) Also - the worst case is with laptop users, when you log into your laptop after your password has been changed - but your laptop accepts the old credentials as they are cached locally, if you happen to login when not connected to the network)
Still no luck?…
Create a new Outlook profile via the 'mail' Control Panel and set it to the default

If that still didn't fix it ... try this (re-create the Outlook profile in Control Panel)...

  • Close Outlook (and all other MS Office apps) ->
  • Open Control Panel ->
  • Open the Mail Control Panel (you may need to switch to Classic view in Control Panel) ->
  • Click on 'Show Profiles ->
  • Click 'Add' ->
  • Choose a name for your new profile, then follow the on screen prompts to create a new profile ->
  • Select it as the default (check 'Always use this profile and then select the newly created profile from the drop down) ->
  • Re-open Outlook...

If this fixed the issue, you can go back and look at the properties of your old profile via the Mail control panel - to locate archive PST files, etc. Although I'm sure your IT dept. can help with this.

Try a 'Detect and Repair' from Outlook's Help menu or Repair Office via Add / Remove Programs Control Panel
To Repair Outlook / Office do the following (I believe that from Outlook, selecting 'Help' menu then 'Detect and Repair' is the same - but I have generally done it as follows):
  • Open Control Panel
  • Open Add/Remove Programs
  • Locate Microsoft Office in the list (which ever is your version) and select it
  • A bunch of text will appear under the program once you select it in the list
  • Click on 'Click here for support information'
  • A 'Support Info' dialog box will appear, click on 'Repair' then wait...patiently.
  • Once the repair is complete, restart the PC and test again.

The issue persists??? ...read on...



Ando commented below as "Anonymous" advised to try the following:

Type the following 3 commands in to a command prompt (with elevated privileges):

     netsh firewall reset
     netsh winsock reset
     netsh int ip reset log.txt

...then reboot.

I've not tried this personally - but it could be a winner - so give it a red-hot-go!
Thanks for the additional info Ando.

...some more possible troubleshooting steps...


Try disabling 'Cached Exchange Mode' (last resort and should only be used as a workaround until proper resolution is found)

If you:
  • can access the internet,
  • can access other network resources,
  • are NOT in "work offline" mode,
  • can ping the Exchange Server,
  • are currently using 'cached exchange mode',
  • none of the above troubleshooting helped!!!
But for some maaaaad reason you can still see the word "Disconnected" in the bottom right corner of Outlook???

Try the following :

  • Open Outlook
  • Select the 'Tools' menu
  • Then 'Email Accounts'
  • Select 'View or change existing e-mail accounts' and click 'Next'
  • Click 'Change...'
  • Uncheck 'Use Cached Exchange Mode'.
  • Exit Outlook and then run it again
Hey presto...should be working now.

Then try setting it back to 'Use Cached Exchange Mode' again - as this can help save on excess network usage. If it goes back to disconnected again - just disable it again.

If not...good luck with that whole MAPI exceeded connections thingo and registry edits...blah blah.

Also - another alternative is to point to another Exchange Server which wasn't possible at the time due to Admin rights - so can't test but worth a try.

Happy days...for me anyway


*** DISCLAIMER ***
Remember to always backup your work, keep note of any locations to PST files, and consult with your Administrator first.
Also - in most circumstances, it is not best practice to disable 'Cached Exchange Mode'.
The reason is that with it disabled - the network and Exchange server utilization will be increased unnecessarily.

Microsoft describe 'Cached Exchange Mode' as:

  • Cached Exchange Mode provides you with a better experience when you use a Microsoft Exchange Server e-mail account.
    A copy of your mailbox is stored on your computer.
    This copy provides quick access to your data and is frequently updated with the mail server.

    If you work offline, whether by choice or due to a connection problem, your data is still available to you instantly wherever you are.
    If a connection from your computer to the computer running Exchange server isn't available, Outlook switches to Trying to connect or Disconnected.
    If the connection is restored, Microsoft Outlook automatically switches back to Connected or Connected (Headers).
    Any changes you make while a connection to the server isn't available are synchronized automatically when a connection is available.
    You can continue to work while changes are synchronized.
    (Taken from here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/outlook/HP010000671033.aspx )

Per the disclaimer, I only recommend the 'disable cached exchange mode’ as last resort or a work around .

Finally, if all else fails, Call Microsoft support in your country


Hope this helps :D

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