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Troubleshooting Outlook Secure Temp Folder

Data CenterWhen working with Outlook folders administrators will often run into the question of how to manage the Outlook Secure Temp Folder. Sometimes users are not able to open the attachments that come with their emails specifically addressed to them. This problem can be very irritating especially to an end user who has been waiting for a very important email message.

For example, the CEO of your organization may be trying to open a PowerPoint presentation as an attachment to an email they received. And while there may be several window applications open already containing various Microsoft Office documents your CEO still cannot see his document in any of those PowerPoint windows.

One of the easiest assumptions to make as a possible cause of the problem is that this is a memory issue – specifically, a lack of memory issue. In this scenario, it may be recommended to the end user that they close out some of their applications and then try to open their attachment again. If this doesn’t help then a reboot of their system can be tried.

System administrators who have been around a while will most often have their own favorite set of performance monitoring tools. One tool that everyone has used at one time or another is the Windows performance monitor tool, “perfmon”. It can be launched by clicking the Start button, selecting Run, and then typing in “perfmon” on the command line. With this tool an administrator can monitor memory usage, disk storage and processor utilization.

Another place to look at is the storage area that Outlook uses for storage of temporary data. This storage area is known as the Secure Temporary File Folder. Outlook stores copies of attachments that are to be used by other applications.

During normal processing, Outlook will remove the temporary files after the application has closed and completed its processing of the attachments. But sometimes Outlook has to close or is shut down for some reason and the application(s) associated with the stored attachment files are still up and running. Under this condition Outlook may not release the contents of its temporary file folder. The fact that Outlook has closed and has not cleaned out its temporary file folder is not a problem. The problem occurs when the number of files in the folder exceeds a count of ninety-nine (99).

Unfortunately, the number of files that Outlook can store in the temporary file folder using the same name is limited. When Outlook closes and leaves files in the temporary file folder those files become “orphaned” files if their source attachment has the same name. Even if the attachment to the email message has been opened from the Preview pane, and Outlook is exited, a user will not receive a prompt to save any changes.
If there are ninety-nine such “orphaned” files in the temporary file folder then upon opening the one-hundredth file and error message will be generated indicating that the associated attachment cannot be opened.

The error message will look similar to the following:

“Can’t create file: (filename.doc). Right click the folder you want to create the file in and then click properties on the shortcut menu to check your permissions for the folder”

As an example, if an end user receives a report document every day, such as “Sales.doc”, and the end user exits out of Outlook each day, before they close the attachment document, then after ninety-nine days there will be ninety-nine copies of “Sales.doc” in the temporary file folder. Then, on the one-hundredth day, an error message will be generated when the end user attempts to open that same named document. An administrator can correct this situation by deleting all files, in the secure temporary file folder, that have the same name.

When Outlook 2010 first tries to use a temporary file, it examines the registry to determine whether the following value exists.



Value Name: OutlookSecureTempFolder
Data Type: REG_SZ

If the value exists, and the path is a valid path, then Outlook 2010 will use that location for its temporary files. If the registry value does not exist or references an invalid path then Outlook 2010 will create a new subdirectory under the Temporary Internet Files directory to be used for storing temporary files. The newly created subdirectory name is randomly generated and thus is unknown.

An administrator can find this newly created subdirectory by following the steps below.

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Select Run.
  3. Type the following command, “C:Documents and Settings username Local SettingsTemporary Internet FilesContent.Outlook”
  4. Click OK.
  5. Open the subfolder (or subfolders) under the Content.Outlook folder. (Look for a folder name that consists of a sequence of letter and numbers such as DR1C8HID.)  Source: themailadmin