How to prevent emails disappearing from the inbox

EmailsIn another post I discussed the situation of emails that are not sent and are instead stuck in the email outbox. The flip side of that problem is when emails that are in the email inbox seemingly disappear. This can occur after email messages have been read. It can also happen if the preview pane has been opened and the email has not yet been read.

What might be happening is that a filter is being applied that only displays unread messages. Obviously what needs to happen is to either remove the filter or modify it.

If you want to reset to a known state you can also just remove all filters. This is a very easy procedure.

  • In Outlook 2000 bring up the View menu and move to the Current View.
  • Once there you can click on Customize Current View.
  • This will bring up a View Summary dialog box where you can then choose Filter which will pop up the Filter dialog box.
  • Here you’ll want to click on Clear All and then click OK or hit enter a couple times to exit the dialog.
  • You should now be able to view all email messages whether they are read or unread.

There is another possible cause for disappearing emails. If one of your end users has managed to set Outlook so that email delivery is pointed at a personal folder file such as a pst file then this can have the undesirable consequence of disappearing email.

If you have installed Outlook with the Corporate or Workgroup option then this will support the use of Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) services. This is important because it will allow you, as an administrator, to set the delivery target as your mailbox. You do not want a personal folders file set as the delivery target when you are running Outlook 2000 while viewing the inbox on the Exchange Server. You can set the delivery location by going to the Tools menu and clicking on Services. Next, click on the Delivery tab and check that “Deliver new mail to the following location” has your mailbox as the target location. If everything looks good then click OK or just hit enter.

If you suspect that it is your Rules or Rules and Alerts that is causing the disappearing email problems then you’ll have to go back and double check the logic and make the necessary corrections.

As a precaution you should also backup your email and contacts. You can then set up your account again and perform an import all. Then go back and recheck your Inbox. If this doesn’t correct the problem you can then try and uninstall followed up with a reinstall including all updates as required.

Another option you have is to use the Outlook Inbox Repair Tool to fix any questionable or corrupted files. You must first identify the .pst file(s) you wish to repair. Obtain the full pathname and then run the Inbox Repair Tool and input the pathname to the .pst file(s) you wish to correct. You can run this tool by clicking on the Start button, pull right on Programs or All Programs, pull right on Accessories, pull right on System Tools, and then click on the Inbox Repair Tool. Follow the wizard steps to repair the questionable file(s).

In previous posts I have strongly recommended implementing a routine email archiving practice for all email administrators. Email archiving can be used to recover from corrupted folders and files. It is much easier to work with than having to repair corrupted folders and .pst files.

Another diagnostic step you can take is to set up a new profile to see if you are able to view those “disappearing” emails. You can export your folders and email messages from the old profile and into the new one. This procedure will sometimes be enough to enable your end user to view his “disappearing” emails. Again, another good reason for email archiving and regular backups.

You should also go back and check your View settings. Verify that your ‘Views’ are set to allow viewing of all messages. An end user may have mistakenly changed the setting to view only unread email messages.

Now if you are using Microsoft Outlook 2007 it is known to have a feature that can block attachments that are considered unsafe. This can have an adverse effect on viewing email messages. The attachments that are blocked will depend on different factors that include configuration settings and policies all controlled and set  up by an administrator. Each client can have different implementations so an administrator will have to check the specific client that is having trouble with attachments.

This is where it gets interesting. An administrator or someone on their team will have to write some code that will allow an administrator to check if a particular attachment is being blocked. The code that will allow you to check on specific email attachments is called the IAttachmentSecurity application programming interface (API).

The IAttachmentSecurity API will allow your program to use the IsAttachmentBlocked function. Using this function will allow you to determine whether a particular attachment is blocked. Blocked files – attachments in this case – are not displayed by Outlook 2007.

Using all of the above diagnostic steps outlined in this post will allow an email administrator to correct most any disappearing email problems.

Written by Mike Rede

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