You want to see this e-mail with attachment? Ok, let me go check out your external drive for no reason before I fetch it.
February 23, 2008 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Why does Microsoft Outlook insist on spinning up my external hard drive before letting me see any e-mail with attachments?

I've noticed this in Outlook 2003 and 2007, in XP and Vista, and I'd like to know what causes it.

Basically, whenever I have an external hard drive connected (via USB) to my computer, I cannot see an immediate preview of any e-mail in Outlook that contains an attachment without having everything in Outlook freeze for a few moments while my external drive spins up. Once the drive is spun up, the body of the e-mail shows up.

If the drive is not attached, or if I have accessed it recently (so that it is spun up and not idle), I can click on an e-mail with an attachment and have it show up in the preview pane with no delay.

My .pst files are my local drive (not on the external) and this happens with both POP and IMAP folders.

So what causes this behavior and is there any way to stop it?
posted by roomwithaview to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you save an attachment there recently? Try to save an attachment to the local c:\ or whatever and then see if it happens next time. I recall in Win98 days something like that trying to access the floppy drive, even when it was empty.
posted by thilmony at 2:08 PM on February 23, 2008

Have you ever "archived" to the external drive? Then forgot to remove the archive from the open data files?
posted by jkaczor at 2:44 PM on February 23, 2008

Explorer often spins up idled external storage whenever it might be time to store things. I believe explorer (prompted by outlook) is warming up the storage to see what's available, if you decide to then save the attachment. It's more of a windows thing than outlook per se, or at least when I've encountered it.

The only suggestions I have are to physically turn off the external drive when you're not using it, or if you're using it regularly enough to find that annoying, turn off the drive-idle (if you can; it's normally a feature of the caddy itself, or you can check the hard-disk spin down settings in the power settings)
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2008

You know... I have been sitting here trying to drill this down. Let me ask a few questions to see if I understand fully. Right now, I have at least one suggestion as well.

~ Is it Outlook 2003 on XP and Outlook 2007 on Vista, or are you saying you have seen this in Outlook 2003 and 2007 on XP as well as in Outlook 2003 and 2007 on Vista?

~ Are you moving your PST to each install?

~ Are you exporting/importing any other settings?

~ Are these two separate computers, a dual-boot, or just something you noticed between XP and Vista installations on the same computer?

~ Does this happen with multiple USB drives or have you only noticed or tried with one?
Ok. So I don't have enough to give you steps to fix your issue, but I think I have an idea that will help us track down the WHAT or WHY.

Start off by downloading Process Explorer.

Run the app and locate OUTLOOK.EXE

Right click and go to Properties > Environment - Does everything pull from the C: drive? It most likely does. Click OK.

OUTLOOK.EXE should still be highlighted. Press CTRL + H to see handles.

In the pane below click on the 'Name' column. If your jump drive is S: scrolll to the S section and stay there.

You need to be able to see that section and access an attachment in Outlook, so shink Process Explorer and Outlook a bit, click on an email with an Attachment and see if any requests to your S: drive show up. If so, right click on it and press Properties. What is the Type, Description and Address?

Now there is a chance that it is not an Outlook handle at all. If you do not see it show up, click out of the message with an attachment or close Outlook and re-open it. In Process Explorer press CTRL + F and then search for S:

Click on an attachment and then continue pressing Search in Process Explorer. If any handles referencing S: become active, they will show up here. Double click the result to be brought to the Handle. Now whatever process is highlighted in gray is the owner of the handle. What is the process? Right click on the handle and press Properties. What is the Type, Description and Address?
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 3:07 PM on February 23, 2008

To clarify:
  • This happens with all of the external USB hard drives I have used.
  • This happened in Outlook 2003 and 2007 in XP, and also in a new Vista machine with Outlook 2007.
  • It happens regardless of whether the .pst file is newly created or a carryover from a previous install.
  • My archive files are located on the local drive. I don't save attachments directly to the external drive.
I appreciate the responses. If what ArkhanJG describes is accurate, then I am inclined to go with his explanation.

I don't really see this issue as a huge limitation, though in the past on slower machines it was very annoying. I just happened to notice that it still happened when I recently upgraded to a newer, faster system, so I was just curious as to why it happened.
posted by roomwithaview at 3:27 PM on February 23, 2008

Oh, and B(oTo)BIES, your handle is a riot.
posted by roomwithaview at 3:27 PM on February 23, 2008

It looks like it might be looking for something. If its detectable you should see it using filemon.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:30 PM on February 23, 2008

« Older Make them glow forever!   |   What are some good, quick boxed international... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.