Outlook 2003 says .ost file is "in use and cannot be accessed" – when it isn’t

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  • intersilver

    Hi all,

    I’m trying to troubleshoot this problem for a user who runs Outlook 2003, connecting to an Exchange servr in cached exchange mode, RPC over HTTP. The system is a fully patched WinXP SP3 (running on a 2.4GHz Intel Core2 Quad, 2 GB of RAM).

    When he sets his outlook to Work Offline, things are fine. But the minute he tries to connect to the server (even before entering his username/password), Outlook starts having problems with his .ost file:
    “The file D:outlooknew offline folders.ost is in use and could not be accessed. Close any application that is using this file, and then try again.”
    This pops up repeatedly, and so often that it gets quite impossible to get any work done.

    The thing is… I checked, and as far as I can tell, there is no other process using this file:

    – I verified that there’s only one instance of OUTLOOK.EXE
    – I disabled all search indexers, scanners, virus protections that might be accessing the ost file
    – I checked with SysInternals’ Process Explorer and Filemon utilities, and verified that no other process had locked the file, or was trying to access it in any way

    Right now it’s really quite awkward…. this message keeps popping up left and right, and I’m sitting here with Filemon capturing all events relating to the ost file, listing all the sharing violations that cause the popups to appear – and the only process accessing the file is the single instance of OUTLOOK.EXE. Outlook basically keeps reporting sharing violations with… itself.

    I’m out of ideas… any suggestions?

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