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Why are My Emails Disappearing from Outlook when using Google Sync for Outlook?

By steve - Posted on 07 August 2014

Man, I ran into a real stumper. I had some customers that had been using Google Apps for email for quite awhile. They required Outlook instead of just using the web interface, so, inspite of the disadvantages of using it, we needed to use Google Sync for Outlook.

Everything worked great, until about 14 months into using it, a user reported that some of her emails were "missing". When I checked the web interface, the emails were still there, but they were definitely gone from Outlook.

None of the "helpful" auto-archive features were turned on in Outlook. Outlook will spin your older emails out to a separate PST file, if you let it--this makes it "easier" by putting things where they can't be searched for and you have to specifically go looking for them in a place you don't know exists...

Anyway, I tried a number of things like doing a resync in Google Sync, etc., but nothing helped.

Well, when I was making some changes because a user had left the organization, I discovered something pretty important about how Google Sync actually works...

Here's what happens: You have Outlook installed. You install Google Sync for Outlook. You create an account in Outlook and Google Sync starts syncing. It looks like you have all your email (either because you have a new account or because you don't have a lot of email). No problem. Then, later, you start looking in Outlook for certain emails in folders or wherever and they are gone!

I kind of did this for the terminated employee in reverse. The SOP when an employee is terminated is to change the name of the user from first.last to first.last.old, delete the alias for the first.last, add the alias of first.last to the employee taking over the job so anybody emailing the terminated employee will be emailing the employee handling that part of the job. When you rename an account, it breaks Outlook Sync because the old account doesn't exist (and you can't log in as that old account name alias).

The solution is to create a new profile in Outlook for the first.last.old account.

So because I need to set up a profile for the old address, it acts like a new one. When I was syncing, it didn't take too long (less time than I thought), but when I checked on progress, I got a email from Google Sync that said that my "message store was full" and I needed to expand it to get all my mail. Aha!!!! THAT is the reason why some users were "losing" their email in Outlook. Google Sync was limiting how much email was being cached. They had gotten that message, too, but didn't know what to do about it and then their emails started disappearing.

The solution is simple, right click on the Google Sync icon in the tray. Click the option to "Set mailbox size limit". Change it to something appropriate, like "Unlimited". This will prevent Google Sync from "syncing out" any of your older emails.

Once you change the option, you'll want to force another sync (or re-sync, maybe) with Google Sync. A few hours later, you should have all your missing emails.

Keep in mind, though, that there is still a limit for your local message store in Outlook 2010 of 20GB and when it gets that big, searching and indexing can become really slow. Also, certain registry settings can override your ability to change this setting, so you may have to fix that on your domain as well.

Here's an article from Google describing more details about this:

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