Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
"Not responding" is a common message delivered from Windows when it is not able to communicate quickly enough with a program running on your computer.
Dear Leo, I have a BIG problem with Microsoft Outlook 2010. My operating system is Windows 7. Outlook keeps giving me the error message "Not responding," freezes, and then unfreezes or just hangs. I double-click and it will eventually unfreeze itself. When I highlight and want to move email to a folder, it says it cannot do this. But when I click again for the second time, it moves the email. I've had no luck in trying to contact Microsoft so I was wondering if you could help. I took my computer back to the factory settings and did a clean install of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, but that hasn't fixed things. Hope you can help.
In this excerpt from Answercast #39, I look at some common reasons why the message "Not responding" could be delivered by Windows.
Well to be honest, I'm not sure that I can help, but I definitely have a few ideas about the kind of things that might be going on in this case.
What "Not Responding" usually means in Outlook is that it is just too darned busy working at whatever it is you've asked it to do, to actually respond to your mouse click or keystroke.
Normally, that shouldn't happen. Outlook is architected to be able to respond to your user input in a timely manner without throwing out this "Not Responding" message...
Windows is actually trying to communicate with Outlook, the program;
And Outlook is too busy working on something in order to respond – even to Windows.
Windows is trying to give your mouse-click or your keystroke to Outlook, and Outlook is just too busy.
Now, what's it too busy doing? That's where things get kind of odd and interesting.
When I've seen this happen; when I have this scenario that you outlined:
The PST file itself may be too big. Sometimes, it's just spending so much time trying to manage the contents of the PST file that it is not able to respond to things (like your mouse clicks or your keystrokes) in a timely fashion.
Again, normally, that shouldn't be the case, but I could certainly see it.
I have, in fact, seen it on particularly large PST files; on PST files that are internally (I'll say) fragmented, because the same concept of disk fragmentation kind of applies to the contents of PST files.
In fact, the disk itself could be at fault. Certainly, things like a bad sector (or a sector on the disk that is going bad) can cause these kinds of issues in Outlook... or for that matter, in any kind of program that's writing to the disk.
So, another scenario to look at is:
Since you did a clean install, I'm actually not that concerned about things like additional software on your machine getting in the way.
The only other thing that falls into that category, however, are any add-ons that you happen to regularly use with Outlook. Outlook does have a fairly robust plug-in model. Particularly if you're in a corporate environment, there can be plug-ins.
Plug-ins can cause this kind of behavior as well;
Not intentional, but sometimes, they're just not written to handle all of the worst cases.
What I would recommend you do to try and get a sense for where this problem might be coming from is (of all things): pay attention to your disk activity light when you're having this "Not Responding" scenario.
That will tell you fairly quickly if this a disk-based issue.
So, what I recommend you do is:
Let your machine basically calm down after you boot it.
Let it come to a calm or a quiet state where it's done all of its scan;
It's done of all its boot-up work;
It's done whatever it's done;
Outlook is running, but the disk light is not really active;
The disk light is pretty much off all the time.
It will blink occasionally, but that's fine.
Now, start using Outlook. If your disk light starts going crazy; if it actually is on almost all the time, and at the same time, you start experiencing the "Not Responding" message that you've described in your question, then I strongly suggest that what you're experiencing is a disk-related issue.
That could be the disk itself;
It could be a problem with the PST file;
It could be a problem with Outlook's ability to write to the PST in a timely fashion.
Those are the things I would look at. I'm sorry I don't have something really specific that I can just say, "This is the answer for you." It's a symptom that can be caused by many, many different things.
The disk is the thing that I look at first.
The PST is the thing ON the disk that I then look at first.
Next from Answercast 39 – Why do I have problems accessing files and folders on my network?