Outlook shared mailbox synchronization takes too long

Hi everyone,

I was hoping for your brainstorming input on the following issue we have.

We have a robot that runs early in the morning that retrieves emails of the previous day (everything that arrived between 0:00 and 23:59) from a shared mailbox.
A lot of times the robot doesn’t get all emails. Those are the ones coming in after a specific time in the evening.
It seems the synchronization of the mailbox takes too long in order for the robot to have all emails ready to process.
The robot can get all emails when the other process that is scheduled before that one runs successfully. The one before also uses Outlook, so during that time the emails/mailboxes are all synchronized.
But we don’t think it’s good enough to rely on a different process in order to get that one running correctly.

So we tried some solutions:

  1. Adding delays: even delays of 30 seconds doesn’t seem to be enough. We could extend to wait longer though.
  2. Checking the text at the bottom to turn to “All folders are up to date”: It seems this message is shown, then changing back to “updating folders”, so we could not rely on this.
  3. Navigating in Outlook with hotkeys (Alt+JSG) to open “Send/Receive Groups” and then selecting the shared mail Inbox, then waiting for the progress pop-up to disappear in order to proceed: also doesn’t seem to work.

From IT security settings we are not allowed to directly connect to the server via Office365 activities, so we rely on synchronization first.

Has anyone experienced this before and came up with an elegant solution?

Out current ideas:

  • We were also thinking about making a robot that just opens Outlook, leaves it open for 5 to 10 Minutes and then is finished. But this again is not an elegant solution…
  • Extending delays to 5 Minutes, but not sure if this will be enough. We don’t want this simple process to take so long.
  • Add a rule to the shared mailbox to forward those specific emails directly to the robot machine, in hope that the emails in the robot’s own Inbox are being synchronized faster than those from a shared mail box.

Thanks for your input on this. :confused:


Common problem indeed.
A few tips I’ve used in the past in different environments:

  • you can leave outlook open if your VDI’s are persisten
  • validate the status bar, and look for something like ‘all folders up to date’ and wait for that dynamically when opening outlook.
  • When you use your get mail messages activities, be sure that it is set up to get enough messages. Know that if you use filters in this activity, the filters are applied ‘after’ getting the messages.
    Example: your mailbox contains 1000 mails dating from January until now. You want to get the new messages from yesterday only, and use a date filter for this in the activity.
    So you get the top 30 messages, old to new which would fetch the 30 messages from probably January. Then your filter is applied and no mails are returned, since they are all too old. Easily fixed, but just be aware of this effect.
  • Sometimes switching off the cached exchange mode will solve things.
    You can change this for your own mailbox, but also for your shared mailbox. Note: this is a client side setting.
    It’ll initially take quite a while to properly sync / desync the mailbox to your local client, but once done I noticed significant performance increases since you don’t have to wait for the entire mailbox and all of its subfolders are synced. The get email activities themselves become a wee bit more cumbersome and rely on stable network connections, but nowadays this should not be an issue.
  • As for the timeout length: getting less mail is faster. Simple as that. I once just measured the get mail messages activity on a slow mailbox, and made a dynamic calculation on what a reasonable timeout would be compared to the number of emails to read. Note: if your systems are stable there is little risk in being generous with your timeouts, since they’re all dynamic anyways.

Hope this helps a bit!

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Hi Jeroen,

thanks for your suggestions!

We decided to go with the Cached Exchange Mode.
We left it enabled but changed the time period from 1 year (default) to 2 weeks. Loading the cache will be much faster now.
(Leaving Outlook open was kind of default in the past. But for several weeks/months now Outlook is always shut down after the user session has ended. Must have been some update, maybe also internal security changes. :woman_shrugging: )

Also, what we have noticed:
The shared mailbox was added as additional account to our Studio but not to our Robot VM. So the shared folder could only be accessed but not updated individually with our Send/Receive hotkey solution. We added the account to the Robot Outlook account and this should also do the trick. :slight_smile:

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