Solving Outlook's most common problems

One of the most common problems with Outlook, or Outlook Express, is that it times out too soon. Either it can't send mail, can't receive or both. The error messages it gives are many, various and misleading. They can all be solved, however, the same way.

In Outlook, click on Tools. Some versions have their settings under Services, others under Accounts. Click on whichever you see. Select the tab for Mail, select your account and click on Properties.

Go to the tab marked Advanced at the top. In the middle of the window, you should see something that reads "Server time out period." Under this is a pointer that can be slid (using the mouse) from left to right, with the left end being the low setting. To the right of this, you'll see how long the time out period is.

Outlook and Outlook Express both default to a time out period of one minute. That's not one minute with no activity. That's one minute to log on to the server. If you have to resolve the server's IP address by DNS, or your server's running a bit slow, or there's any other hold up, you'll time out. The odds are, that whatever error message you get will have nothing to do with the real reason for the failure.

Set the time out up to at least three minutes; more is OK, but probably not needed. Click Apply. Click OK. Click Close. Close Outlook and reopen the program, to make sure the setting changes take effect.

Sometimes, in recent versions of Outlook or Outlook Express, you find yourself unable to open or save any attachments. When this hiappens, click on Tools, Options, Security. Near the top, there's an option to prevent opening or saving attachments that might be infected. Uncheck this, check Apply, and OK. Now you can open and save attachments again.

From what I can tell, this is because the option really should read, "Prevent oepning or saving any attachments, because any attachment might be infected with a virus." This typical piece of Micro$lop overkill is just another stumbling block getting between you and what you need do do.

All in all, the best way to solve all of Outlook's problems is simple: don't use it. Get a real email client and a real newsreader and avoid all the trojans designed to exploit all of Outlook's secureity holes.

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