How to Solve Roaming Profile and OST Problems in Outlook Mailboxes

Summary: Outlook provides a Roaming Profiles feature for Microsoft Office365 accounts, enabling users to access their accounts on different machines. However, users with roaming profiles may also encounter certain issues while accessing their accounts from a different machine due to sync issues and may lose data due to problems with their Outlook data file. In this post, we have discussed the common issues associated with roaming profiles with steps to resolve them.


How to Solve Roaming Profile and OST Problems in Outlook Mailboxes

Outlook is a popular email client used by individuals, professionals, and businesses to access Microsoft Exchange and Office365 email accounts. It creates an OST data file when you configure an Exchange, Outlook.com, or Office365 account. This allows Outlook to store an offline copy of mail items and settings in your local machine.

However, administrators can enable or disable the roaming profile option by using ‘Disable roaming settings’ in the Outlook group policy template (GPO) in Office365.

When enabled, Outlook stores the user settings on the cloud (at mailbox level, not on the local system), including signatures. It allows roaming users to switch between different systems without any additional configuration or making any changes. This saves users’ time and provides a consistent experience while using Outlook for Windows on different devices.

Problems with Outlook Roaming Profiles and OST

When users with roaming profiles access their profile from Outlook for Windows installed on any other system, the application (Outlook) settings and user’s documents stored on the cloud are automatically roam across all the devices.

Following are the Outlook options and their settings that are roamed across all devices.

  • General
  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Groups
  • People
  • Tasks
  • Search
  • Ease of Access
  • Advanced

NOTE: Settings of Add-Ins, Trust center, Quick Access Toolbar, Customize Ribbon, Language Outlook options, and %UserProfile% folder containing the Outlook OST file are not roamed.  

TIP: You can also include the OST Outlook file in the roaming profile. This will give users access to their synced data.

But sometimes, Outlook users with roaming profiles may encounter certain errors when trying to access their Outlook profile from a different Outlook version. You need to access the profile from the same Outlook version to avoid issues with the roaming profile.

Besides, Outlook may also display errors, such as Outlook data file cannot be configured’ or ‘Your roaming profile is unavailable. You will log on with local profile’ indicating issues with Outlook OST data file, permissions, or mailbox synchronization that can prevent users from accessing their email account.

Users may also find missing emails or mail items when they sign in to Outlook for Windows on another machine or local profile due to sync issues.

Steps to Resolve Roaming Profile and OST Problems

Following are some troubleshooting steps you may follow to resolve issues with the OST file and roaming profile in Outlook.

Step 1: Disable Roaming Profile

For Microsoft Office 365, the roaming option is on by default. However, you can disable this from the Outlook options and use Ofice365 in Cached Exchange Mode or Online mode to troubleshoot the issue and regain access to your mail items.

To disable the roaming option in Outlook, follow these steps,

  • In Outlook, navigate to File> Options.
  • Click on the General option and then uncheck Store my Outlook settings in the cloud checkbox.
enable-roaming-profile-option-in-Outlook-settings
  • Click OK to save the changes and restart Outlook.

Step 2: Disable Cached Exchange Mode

Disabling Cached Exchange Mode will enable Outlook Online mode where Outlook connects to the server and saves changes directly into the mailbox instead of the local OST file. The steps are as follow,

  • In Outlook, navigate to File> Account Settings> Account Settings.
  • Select your Exchange or Microsoft 365 profile name and click Change.
  • Uncheck the Use Cached Exchange Mode… checkbox under Offline Settings.
disable-cached-exchange-mode-in-outlook
  • Save the settings and then restart Outlook.

You must enable Cached Exchange Mode later to view the mailbox data in your Outlook account from local OST. Otherwise, the OST will become orphaned and turn inaccessible, leading to data loss.

Step 3: Repair Local Cache (OST File)

You may also attempt to repair the OST file using the inbox repair tool (ScanPST.exe). This may help fix the synchronization issues that may lead to problems with roaming profiles. The steps are as follow,

  • Open ScanPST.exe. The program is located in the MS Office installation directory under the Outlook folder. For more info, refer to this guide to find the scanpst.exe location.
  • Click ‘Browse’ to choose the OST file and then click ‘Start.’
scanpst-select-OST-file-for-repair
  • After a while, the tool displays results and an option to repair the file if it finds errors. Click ‘Repair’ and wait as it may take a while to finish.
scanpst-errors-found

If the tool does not respond or fails to repair the OST, convert the OTS file to PST using Stellar Converter for OST. Then recreate the new OST file and import the mail items from the converted PST file to your new OST via Outlook wizard.

Conclusion

Although roaming profiles in Outlook for Office365 allows users to access their accounts from other systems without any need to change or reconfiguring the settings, some users may experience errors and issues while accessing their accounts. However, you can resolve them by following the troubleshooting steps discussed in this post. However, if you find missing mailbox items, you can use an OST to PST converter tool as mentioned in this post to convert your orphaned OST file to PST and then import it to your Office365 mailbox via Outlook Import/Export wizard. You may also export the mail items directly to Office365 using the software.    

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