Just like they were told to do

IT staffer who manages Outlook notices that a number of his users seem to have emails stuck in their outboxes, says a pilot fish on the scene.

"So he proceeds to make a list and work at clearing out the emails, which are all old messages," fish says. "Some users only have one or two stuck emails, some seem to have hundreds.

"He starts clearing them out, following procedure and only doing a few mailboxes a night so as not to cause any issues with Exchange and backups."

Meanwhile, fish is responsible for backups and restores, and she gets a puzzling request: to restore the emails to a user's Outlook outbox.

Why would any user need anything restored to the outbox? fish wonders. The outbox only holds emails for a very short time and most likely doesn't have anything in it. Besides, doing the restore will be a pain, because email backups are the last ones being converted from tape to disk, so just getting the restore set up will take a few hours.

But her first attempt to contact the user to ask for an explanation is unsuccessful and she has to leave a voice mail.

Next day, fish gets another request to restore an outbox, this time from a different user.

"This one I manage to contact and ask why," says fish. "The user tells me that a while ago when we converted to the new Outlook, someone came by and informed them they could no longer use .pst files and had to store old emails within Outlook.

"He also showed them how to set up folders in the outbox and move old emails there."

Fish tells the user that this isn't correct, and explains that all old emails should go in the online archive folder.

Then fish goes to work on the outbox restore, and in the process contacts the email admin to see if he knows anything about stuff going missing in outboxes.

It doesn't take long to figure out what happened. The email admin stops deleting things from outboxes, and fish starts looking for who else needs an outbox restored.

"I'm able to do the restores for the users and get them to move the emails to the online archive," fish says. "The email admin looks at outboxes, and with any that are large he has to talk to the users to have them cleared out as well. He's then able to clear out all the small one- and two-email issues.

"I just wish I knew who that person was that thought it was a smart idea to save old emails in the outbox!"

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