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Over the years, I've had various Outlook lock-ups, largely when network connectivity is patchy, and it results in me having to kill the OUTLOOK.EXE process, re-launch it, and wait while it repairs my PST.

There's an option on the system tray icon context menu that says "Cancel server request" (I think it's been there since Outlook 2007), but I always try this first, and I've never had it resolve my interface lock-up, even when I suspect that the lock-up is related to something I've done that requires server connectivity. It makes sense if there's a "Contact the server" thread and this option raises an event on the thread telling it to stop waiting, but whether or not it stops waiting, this action never releases control of Outlook and the application remains unresponsive.

Does this option actually do anything - have people ever observed it resolving their stalled process? I don't mean to sound cynical, but I've wondered if this option was added to appease the users, and there's no actual code behind it. I know threading is complicated, and I understand the issues involved with cancelling a threading wait like this, but I've never seen this option work.

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Kind of like the Close Door button elevators :). – Brad Patton Apr 24 '13 at 18:05
@BradPatton I've seen one that actually works right away! Maybe it's broken..... – BigHomie Apr 24 '13 at 20:14
My Outlook is currently freezing on Send. Cancel Server Request is the only thing that DOES unlock it at the moment. – Martin Hansen Lennox Feb 28 '15 at 17:25
up vote 0 down vote accepted

It might not resolve a 'Outlook Not Responding' problem, that depends on what the actual problem is.

Cancelling a server request does exactly that: When Outlook is requesting resources from a server (Mail, Contacts, Calendar Items, etc..), there are many things that can go wrong during the process. Sometimes this may hang up the main user interface process and cause what we perceive to be freezing or lock-ups. Cancelling the request could resolve this. On the other hand, depending on how far into the process the server request is, cancelling it may not do anything.

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I realize that this command wouldn't necessarily kill whatever Outlook is doing that's locked up the main UI thread - of which "server request" is only one thing - but it seems like bad practice to lock up the UI anyways. I gave this a bit more thought - if the UI thread is locked, this command won't do anything, because the message pump is locked too. If the GUI is responsive, but waiting on server response, this command likely works. However, in cases like mine when the interface is physically unresponsive, this command likely won't have any impact at all. – SqlRyan Apr 24 '13 at 20:11
@SqlRyan I agree it is indeed bad practice, I believe they remedied that in later versions. I think the rest of your comment is accurate as well. – BigHomie Apr 24 '13 at 20:14

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