Outlook Sync Issue Folders Explained

If you are running Outlook connected to an Exchange Server, you may have noticed the Sync Issues folder. This article explains what these folders are for.


In reading this article - remember that when using Outlook with a Microsoft Exchange Server - your Outlook software is not the primary ‘storage area’ for your email, calendar or contact data – it is merely a tool to connect to your server and synchronise with it. In this situation, your Outlook software only contains a copy of your mailbox. If you understand this principle, then you’ll better understand the Outlook Sync Issue Folders. The Sync Issues folder and its sub-folders exist for two key reasons:

  • To alert support staff to issues which may be preventing Outlook from communication with the Microsoft Exchange server.
  • To alert YOU that some of your messages may not be fully and properly synchronised with the server.

Sync Issues Folder

This folder is helpful to support staff because it can help determine why you may be having problems with your Outlook client. For example, you might see an item in Outlook Web Access, but not in Outlook. It is common to get a few messages in your Sync Issues folder from time to time, but many messages could indicate a serious problem.

Conflicts Sub-folder

The conflicts folder contains copies of conflicting items in your mailbox. The Info Bar at the top of the original item advises you that a conflict for this item exists; the corresponding conflicting item is stored in the Conflicts folder. Clicking the Info Bar will bring up a list of conflicting items and allow you to resolve the conflict by determining which item you want to keep.

If, for example, you have made changes to an item such as a calendar appointment but are not seeing the updated item in your Outlook Calendar, check the Conflicts folder. It is possible that your changes caused a conflict with the original item, and the changes will exist in the Conflicts folder.

Local Failures Sub-folder

The local failures folder contains items that could not be uploaded to your Exchange Server. For example you may have made a change to a Task or Appointment while working offline*, but then noticed those changes were not properly uploaded to the server after going online* again. You might notice this if changes were not appearing on a different computer or in Outlook Web Access

Items in the local failures folder will not be stored anywhere else, so you will not see them on any other computer or in Outlook Web Access. If you wish to retain a server based copy, you can manually try ‘dragging and dropping’ these items into the appropriate folder to see if they copy back up to the server.

Server Failures Sub-folder

The server failures folder contains items that exist on the server, but could not be copied down to your locally stored mailbox. This folder is therefore only available when working online. One example of this could be a message that has been sent to you. If you know the message has been sent it may appear in the server failures folder.

Again, an Info Bar appears at the top of any item that has another copy of the item stored in the Server Failures folder. Clicking the Info Bar will open the Server Failures folder for you in a separate window.

* Working Offline – When you are disconnected from your Exchange Server. For example, if you are working on a laptop without an active Internet connection, or if your internal network has failed in some way.

* Working Online – When you are properly connected to your Exchange Server either by using your business network or when connected to a cloud based Exchange Server via an Internet connection.

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