Error: 'Unspecified Error ..' on NEO Synchronization with Exchange Server

Topic T1133 Applies to All NEO products


NEO reports a MAPI Error in the Synchronization Log during a fast (ICS) or full synchronization with Outlook. The error is normally reported as an 'Unspecified Error' and is sometimes associated with MAPI Errors 80040115 or 80040119. To view the NEO Synchronization Log go to NEO 'Help | View Log Files'.


The 'Unspecified Error' is reported by the Microsoft MAPI interface and gives no additional information about the problem. This normally is the result of corrupt messages in the Exchange Mailbox. The Unspecified Error sometimes prompts a MAPI Error 80040115 or a MAPI Error 80040119. The 80040115 Error is a network error with the Exchange Server and normally indicates network stability problems, though MAPI may report a network problem in this situation because the corrupt message(s) appear inaccessible during synchronization. A MAPI Error 80040119, which is an 'Extended Error', may also be reported when the synchronization fails and no additional information is available on the problem.

Outlook in Online Mode with Exchange Server does not report this problem because Outlook doesn't actually download or synchronize messages when operating against an Exchange Server and rather just displays the messages that exist on the server. Things may even look fine in Outlook Web Access (OWA) and no errors will show for the Exchange Server unless error logging is cranked way up. If Outlook were switched to Offline Mode (to a local '.OST' file) or to Cached Exchange Mode with Outlook 2003 (to a bigger local '.OST' file), then Outlook is forced to synchronize the mailbox with an '.OST' file. In this configuration Outlook and the MAPI interface will surface the same synchronization problems as NEO. Unfortunately, when Outlook is operating in Cached Mode the problem is somewhat hidden, since Outlook does not post synchronization error reports directly to the Inbox but rather places them in a special folder created only in Cached Mode named the 'Sync Issues' folder. The user is therefore not directly alerted to these synchronization problems with the '.OST' file unless directly viewing the Outlook 'Sync Issues' folder.

NEO, whether Outlook is operating in Online, Offline or Cached Mode, forces a synchronization of the Mailbox (or OST file) via the MAPI interface to update the NEO Catalog. It is this synchronization that causes the Microsoft MAPI interface to report the 'Unspecified Error' and potentially the other associated errors. Furthermore, when Outlook is not in Offline or Cached Modes (against an OST file) and not reporting synchronization problems of it's own, it will appear as though NEO is missing messages when compared with Outlook. This is because the NEO Catalog synchronization with Outlook fails and any new messages will not be synchronized into the Catalog.

When Outlook is in Offline or in Cached Exchange Mode, NEO synchronizes only with the offline local message store, the '.OST' file, and not with the Exchange Server itself. In this instance normally NEO will match what Outlook displays, since in this configuration, Outlook is in a failing synchronization position. NEO will not report a synchronization problem under these circumstances, since synchronization with the OST file goes without a hitch and it is Outlook that reports the synchronization problems. Since Outlook only posts these reports in the Sync Issues folder and not the Inbox, the user may not be aware of any problems. A bonus with NEO is that it will synchronize and show messages regardless of which Outlook folder the messages reside in (except Deleted Items, Drafts and spam folders) so in NEO the Sync Issues messages will arrive in the Active Mail and Today folders. If you wish to avoid seeing the Sync Issues messages refer to the NEO Knowledge base article T1049.


There are two methods to resolve this problem:
  1. Use a standard Outlook utility called the OST Integrity Check Tool, or 'SCANOST.EXE'
  2. Resolve the issue by finding the problem message(s) in the mailbox and removing them.
Resolution #1

For information on the OST Integrity Check Tool (SCANPST) refer to NEO Knowledge Base article T1120.

Resolution #2

This method of resolving the 'Unspecified Error' is not altogether enjoyable, and requires the user to move all of the e-mail messages that reside in the Exchange Server mailbox message store in which the error occurs to a local '.PST' file and then move all of the messages back to the server. While moving all of the messages off (or back to) the mailbox, an error may be reported such as:

“Can’t move the items. Some items could not be moved. They were either already moved or deleted, or access was denied.”

When this is received a corruption is most certainly present. Try to move the messages in smaller chunks. Eventually the bad message can be isolated. You can just delete it or you could cut/paste the text of the message elsewhere for keeping if the information is critical. The message should go into the Deleted Items folder without complaint. Often, it will appear as though there is nothing wrong with the offending message. Once the problem message is removed, continue to move all of the other messages to the local '.PST' file - there may be more than one bad message in the folder. Sometimes while moving all of the messages back up to the Exchange Server mailbox from the local '.PST' file, you may receive the same "Can't move the items..." error on another message. You can handle this again via the message delete (or cut/paste the message first for storage elsewhere) and then proceed with the move of the rest of the e-mail messages from the local '.PST' file back to the mailbox.

In some instances, there does not appear to be a problem with any of the messages in the mailbox but the simple process of moving them off and back is enough to jiggle the mailbox sufficiently to eliminate the problem.

Last updated: 11 Feb 2005