Most common Outlook Express problems

Outlook Express may be the worst email client ever for business purpose. If you only use email for your personal life, where email is not that important, maybe outlook express will be suitable for you. But for your business or daily works, the rule is simple, DO NOT use outlook express. You can use Ms Outlook, or even better use Lotus Notes for your daily works, both email clients are stable as rock.

With outlook express, you will be facing many problems.

These are the most common problem that I encounter with outlook express.

Missing emails (corrupt dbx files)

Outlook express based on dbx files. Each folder in outlook express actually one dbx file. The structure of the folders are stored in special file called folders.dbx.

The problem with folder in outlook express is if the outlook express closed unexpected, one of the folder may become corrupted. Whe the folder got corrupted you will notice missing emails, worst case all the emails in that folder are missing.

When this happen, DO NOT run compact, or you will loose your emails for good.

There are many utility to recover the corrupted folder, the utility actually extract each emails from the dbx file into may eml files. One email one eml file.

The utility that I like most is Advanced Outlook Express Repair,is very simple and do the job done.

There is also freeware for it called Macallan Outlook Express Extraction, or many more in or try google it for more tools.


Alex just added outlook express dbx extractor as his favorite dbx recovery tools, you can read his comments in here.

Thanks for Alex for this info.


Can’t send and receives emails

These two problem most likely because the inbox folder or sent folder already reach it maximum size, which is 2 GB.

The real problem with outlook express is there is no warning at all if one of the folder reaching it maximun size until it’s too late.

When you can send email or your email stack in oubox folder than your sent items folder is already full, reached it’s maximun size.
If you can’t receive email, than your inbox folder already full.

There are two options to fix it.

1. The easiest way is to moved emails from sent or inbox folder (respectively) to another folder and than run compact. It may take sometime to finish.

2. Or you can create a new folder, click it once so outlook express will create the dbx file. Quit outlook express. Find the dbx file in windows explorer and delete the dbx file that you just created. Find the inbox or sent folder (respectively), rename it with the same name of the folder that you just created. When you run outlook express again, it will re-create the inbox or sent folder (respectively). The old inbox or sent folder is now in the folder you just created.

There is also another possibility that outlook express can’t send and receive emails because of buggy anti virus software. I found it with symantec anti virus 8 and symantec anti virus 9. With symantec you just disable the internet email auto protect, with other anti virus should be similar.

Relaying Not Allowed

You can send email to your colleague within the same domain, but you can’t send email to another domain. You will get the 505 Relaying Not Allowed message.

If this happen, try to enable outgoing email requires authentication. It seem the mail server you use require smtp auth for users to send emails to another domain.

Can’t open Outlook Express

This problem some times happen without any reason at all. It actually still trying to load, just take a long time to finish. Many user will think that their outlook express is hang or crash.

To test it very simple. Just login in safe mode, and try to open outlook express. If it run, than there is nothing wrong with your outlook express, just need a longer time to load. In my case it may take 30 minutes to one hour.

If in safe mode the outlook express still not run, than you might have corrupt folders. You can take a look at my previous post about it.

That’s all, the most common problem that I encounter with outlook express. Maybe other people have another problem that not in my list. For that try this Inside Oulook Express for solutions.


11 thoughts on “Most common Outlook Express problems

  1. Better use Thunderbird. It is from the people that brought you Firefox. It has many extensions and is very easy to use.

  2. bfebrian says:

    I use lotus notes for my works and thunderbird for my personal emails like mailing list etc.
    Thunderbird is good email client, but I did not reached GB’s data yet, so I can’t tell the performance issue.

  3. Alex says:

    OE problems i usually solve with help tool which me adivised familiars-outlook express dbx extractor,it is free as how as they said,tool extract dbx file tool can read damaged Outlook Express folders, extract messages from them and even recover previously deleted messages,can extract messages from damaged files located on another computer using your local area network,checks the integrity of a message and extracts messages together with all files attached to them,allows you to recover dbx files up to 4 Gb in size, that is it resolves the problem of 2Gb (dbx 2gb problem, dbxtract),program has a Batch extraction mode, which makes it possible to automate and speed up the process of extracting and saving messages (Outlook Express extraction, extract dbx files),software supported *.dbx file formats: MS Outlook Express 5, 5.5, 6,tool was seccussfully tested under Windows 2000/XP/2003.

  4. bfebrian says:

    Thanks Alex for the update.

  5. mutu26 says:

    There is a good tool which works with outlook files-outlook viewer pst,as how as i heard tool is free,program can help, when your mailbox is not accessible, it can happen, when something is wrong with your corporate mail server,is able ensure full compatibility with this platform, it represents one of the most popular programs for mail processing,restore all messages, contacts, tasks and calendars cannot be stored on client PC due to security reasons,pst viewer Microsoft and Outlook email viewer features a powerful algorithm, that decrypts *.ost format and extracts your data as a set of files in *.eml, *.txt and *.vcf formats,also convert your data to a *.pst file, that can be easily opened by any email client, you can even forward this file, recovered with Microsoft Outlook .pst viewer to any other PC within your local network.

  6. CR says:

    I am having the following problem with outlook express
    When sending an e-mail I get an erro message and the mail remains in the out
    box. No copy appears in the sent file even though we have bee advised by those recieving the mail that multiple messages have been sent.


    1. bfebrian says:

      please check your sent.dbx file, it may be reach the size of 2 GB which the limit of the dbx file.
      easiest way is to
      -create a new folder from oe, click one to activate it (it will create a new dbx file)
      -close oe
      -go to your dbx file, delete the new dbx file, and then rename the sent.dbx file as the new dbx file)
      -start oe, it will create a new sent folder, the old sent folder will be in the nex folder that you just created in step 1

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