Outlook, D365 disappearing data issue - SOLVED!

Troubleshooting missing data from D365 & Outlook

Author: Thomas Cunningham | Software Consultant | Formus Professional Software

A simple Outlook email archiving fix has restored thousands of items of CRM data, solving a mystery that, on the face of it, made no sense whatsoever.

Losing thousands of items of data is the kind of scenario that no business ever wants to contemplate. But that’s exactly what happened recently to one of our unsuspecting clients. Comparing their live server to a database backup from several months earlier, it was revealed that thousands of tasks and activities had simply gone missing.

What Went Wrong?

Our client regularly records customer phone calls – and it was primarily these records and their associated tasks and activities that were missing from their most current database. When we started digging, we could find no trace of the records or any evidence of what could have happened to them.

Bearing in mind how data is tracked and audited within any decent CRM system, clearly this should never happen. Also bearing in mind how uncommon a problem this is within Dynamics, researching any sort of previously-applied fix proved impossible.

It did however throw up one instance of a user who claimed to have had the same problem previously. Three whole days of Microsoft Premier support time apparently failed to find a solution.

Pair of fists next to computer keyboard

Desperate to avoid a similar result, hours were spent on SQL querying of the old and current databases. The results were disheartening; no audit history, no matching GUIDs. It was as if the records had never existed in the first place.

Just when the task was looking fruitless, the answer appeared. In Outlook.

Outlook Archive Feature Affecting CRM

A passing conversation with the Chamber revealed that they had automatic monthly email archiving set up in Outlook. It was an on-premise exchange deployment, so Outlook would simply produce archive files each month which they would store safely elsewhere. When we investigated this, it became clear that the production of the monthly archive coincided with the time when the CRM records disappeared.

We knew that the Chamber used the Outlook CRM add-in and that it would synchronise their CRM tasks and activities with it. Despite there not being much documentation on the behaviour, we subsequently discovered that when archiving took place, these CRM records would be archived too.

Bizarrely, this process would leave no trace in CRM, making discovering the cause exceptionally difficult. The data thief would leave no trace.

Thankfully, there is a simple fix. Using Outlook’s Import and Export Wizard, the archives can be re-imported and the tasks reinstated. Once this is done, synchronisation of those tasks with Outlook can be disabled, stopping them from being removed when an archive is performed in the future.

The Fix

If you have tasks or activity records disappearing from your Dynamics deployment and you archive your emails, it’s worth considering this as a potential cause.

Thankfully resolving it is easy, here's how we did it:

Navigate to the Import and Export Wizard in Outlook 2019/365:

  1. File
  2. Options
  3. Advanced tab
  4. Export
  5. Choose the “Import from another program or file” option and click next
  6. Choose the “Outlook Data File (.pst)” option and click next]
  7. Choose the archived file and follow the wizard to the end