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2007-07-14

Outlook hangs due to Search Issue


I love to keep all my e-mails. So, I have huge outlook .pst files dedicated to some some active lists that I subscribed more than 10 years ago. Recently, I noticed that instant search in Outlook 2007 was not functioning properly. It would never find anything.

I checked the instant search index status (Tools > Instant Search > Indexing Status). It said something like
"Outlook is currently indexing your items." 1 item remaining in Inbox 150000 items remaining across all open mailboxes

It was clear that instant search was not working properly. So I checked "Windows Search" service by typing "Start > Run > services.msc"
Services was up and running...

Then I checked "Control Panel > Indexing Options". I decided to rebuild the index. So, I clicked "Indexing Options > Advanced > Rebuild" and changed Index location to a folder in a different drive that I usually use for backups.

Things went totally haywire after that :( Whenever I tried to check Indexing Options, it gave me messages like "Retrieving windows Search status" or "Windows search is performing maintenance". Restarting service did not help.

To add to my troubles, Outlook 2007 stopped working. I was able to start it in Safe Mode but it would not start in regular mode and just freeze during startup.

I started Outlook in safe mode and then ran Office diagnostics (Outlook > Help > Office Diagnostics), which found no issues. Google searches did not result in anything useful. Finally, I used Office 2007 CD to "repair" to no avail.

At this point I was not sure why Outlook was not working but because all this stuff did not happen the same day, at first I did not suspect them to be related. In fact, after an unexpected power outage, some Vista permissions were screwed up and I was thinking that issue could be related to .pst folder permissions.

Then it downed on me! I disabled/stopped Windows Search and then started Outlook. Puff! It launched without any issues. Basically, Outlook 2007 was detecting that Windows Search was not available,and disabling Instant Search.

I did a little bit more search on how to build index and found this MSDN thread:

"Set the registry value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search\SetupCompletedSuccessfully to 0 and try restarting the Windows Search service."

I did and it worked. Windows Search started indexing items properly and Outlook 2007 launched without a hitch. Problem solved.

For reference, below is what I saw in the Event viewer when index was corrupted and restarting service would not help:

Log Name: Application
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Search
Date: 7/14/2007 4:28:59 PM
Event ID: 3026
Task Category: Gatherer
Level: Error
Description:
Advise Status Change failed. The system is probably low on resources. Free up resources and restart the service.

Context: Windows Application, SystemIndex Catalog

Details:
The content index server cannot update or access information because of a database error. Stop and restart the search service. If the problem persists, reset and recrawl the content index. In some cases it may be necessary to delete and recreate the content index. (0x8004117f)
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