Outlook – Search Index Lost on Logoff

One of the longest standing problems happening where I work is that Outlook would forget the search index whenever some staff members would logoff, meaning they had to wait before they could search all of their inbox. For other staff it would keep it and they would be able to get results instantly. While it’s been happening to various staff members, this time it happened to the headmaster who needed an email urgently, so it was time to finally figure out what could be causing it. To jump to the solution and skip my rambling, click here.

The message that would come up when a user who had recently logged on and tried to do a search in Outlook is as shown below:

The search error message that is shown to users

If the message is clicked on, it shows a window with the amount of items needing to be indexed and when opening up the indexing options from Control Panel, it shows that indexing of the items is happening too.

After a bit of searching on the Internet and looking in Event viewer for things appearing when users logged off, I found items with a source of ‘Search-ProfileNotify‘ and an event ID of ‘1‘ (thanks for the unique number, Microsoft). Filtering the event logs for this event source, I came across a lot of events triggered every time the user logged off. Clicking on one of the items gave the message:

Having a search on the Internet for the event message gave me a few resources of people having the same problems, and a search for the event ID and source had a similar result. The thing that was similar to both of these questions were ‘User Profile Disks‘ and, while we weren’t using them as it was Outlook on a physical computer, it did give me a place to look as we use roaming profiles.

Solution

Looking through the group policies we had in place for the users that did have the problems and those that didn’t, I noticed that the option for ‘Delete cached copies of roaming profiles‘ was enabled.

Group policy window showing the item to disable profile at logoff enabled
The item is located: Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\System\User Profiles

As group policy is full of double negatives, I changed the option to disabled and restarted the users computer.
Group policy window showing the item to disable profile at logoff disabled

Once the computer had restarted, I checked the event logs again and didn’t find any instance of the previous messages since the policy came into effect. Therefore, for me, changing this option solved the problems for the users.
The event viewer not showing any new log items since the change was made to group policy

All that was left to do now was to let the search index build again on the computer and the user would be able to search as soon as they log on.

Outlook showing a completed index message
I was very happy when this came up repeatedly after many logoff and logon tests

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