Sunday, March 23, 2014


In this article we will review a very usefully Microsoft troubleshooting tool named: Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT). The OffCAT can provide a big help in the process of troubleshooting Microsoft office application but in this article, I would like to focus on the “outlook troubleshooting process” because in an office 365 environment, the outlook is our main connection to the cloud mailbox.

Before we begin

The Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) is a very useful troubleshooting tools that can help us to detect and solve issues related to office installations and particularly outlook. Regarding issues\problems that related to outlook, there are many symptoms such as: Outlook slow performance, mail that doesn’t send with restarting outlook, re prompt of authentication windows, calendar issues and so on.

When we try to start a troubleshooting process the main challenge is the element or to pinpoint the “factor” that is the case for the problem. For example, the “factor” that could cause outlook problems could be: 3 party outlook add-in\plugins, lack of software updates, corruption of outlook cache file (OST file), antivirus applications, and network problem and so on.
The good news is that we can use the OffCAT tool as a key tool for finding the case (and the solution) in the process of troubleshooting outlook problems.

How does the OffCAT tool work?

The concept of the OffCAT tool is based on an interesting idea: the Microsoft office support team create an “office troubleshooting database” that include a documentation and description of

When we use the “scan” option of the OffCAT tool, OffCAT scan the local workstation and collect information about the “desktop environment” and the selected office component (outlook in our example) that includes: OS settings, registry settings, software updates, outlook database, outlook settings and so on.

Using the information that was collected from the scan, the OffCAT tool access the “office troubleshooting database” and try to allocate “well known issues” or “best practice” solution related to the information that was collected from the local user desktop.

Note - the OffCAT tool was created for improving the troubleshooting process related to all of the Microsoft office components such as: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, outlook and so on. In this article we will focus on the “outlook troubleshooting process”

Although the use of OffCAT tool is quite easy and straight forward, I would like to emphasize to workflow processes in an “outlook troubleshooting process”

Step 1 - Download and install the OffCAT tool

We need to install the OffCAT tool on each of the user desktops that that report about outlook problems.

Step 2 - Scan and fix

The “OffCAT Scan process” will collect information and based on the “unique information” that was collected from the user desktop, provide a comprehensive report that include the information about the local desktop\outlook settings + a suggestion for an optional solutions. Most of the time, the “solution suggestions” include a link to a technical article with details information or link to required software fix that could solve the outlook issue.

Step 3 - Save and send OffCAT XML report

In case that the suggested solution helps us to solve the outlook problem, then “everybody is happy”. If not, we can send all of the information that was collected by the OffCAT tool to the office 365 support team for further examination and Analysis ( we will review how to use the option of: OffCAT XML report in the section Reading and exporting the OffCAT report file )

Download and install the OffCAT tool

The download and the install process of Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) are very simple.

Step 1 - Download Office Configuration Analyzer Tool

You can download OffCAT by using the following link: Office Configuration Analyzer Tool (OffCAT) (


Step 2 - install the Office Configuration Analyzer Tool

How to start an OffCAT scan

The “OffCAT scan process” collect information about the local desktop (OS environment setting and office product such as: outlook settings) and in the last step, present the "Findings" that include recommendations and solution for existing problems or for preventing future problems.

After the installation is completed, you can find the icon of the OffCAT 1.0 on the start menu.

When we turn on the OffCAT, the best practice is to use the option of: “check for update”. As mention before, the OffCAT uses an “office will know issue database” that include a description of this issues and suggested solutions. This database is updated frequently and this is the reason for using the “update” option.

Click on the option: check for updates now

Click on the option: Start a scan

In the following screenshot we can see that the OffCAT is designed to help us with the troubleshooting process of all office products. In this article we will focus on the “outlook scan” option.

Under the section: select an office application to scan, choose the option: outlook

The OffCAT can execute two types of outlook scans: Full scan, that require to “turn on” outlook and offline scan. The preferred option is the Fill scan because, using this option we can get more detailed information about the specific outlook mail profile (outlook can include more than one mail profile) and additionally we get detected issues that appear only when the outlook mail client is turned-on.

In the following screenshot we can see that the OffCAT recognize that the outlook is not running.
(You can see that the recommendation is: “please start outlook and click here when done, or choose Offline scan in the Task drop-down list).

In the following screenshot we can see the OffCAT windows when outlook is running. We will need to provide a name to the scan. The OffCAT can save all of the scan results that was executed, and we can ask the see the result of a former scans.

The scan process could take a couple of minutes. When the scan process end we can choose to see the scan result (and the offered solution) by choosing the option: View a report of this configuration scan or save the result of the scan result by choosing the option: Export this scan.

In the following screenshot, we can see all of the different “sections” that was examined such as: Add-ins (Microsoft and third party) and third-party modules, Application event log and many more (The scan process includes 21 “sections”).

Because of the large number of “sections” that are scanned, we cannot present all of the sections in a single screenshot. For this reason, I attached an additional screenshot that include the rest of the “sections”:

How to read\use the OffCAT scan results

In this part we review the result of the scan. The screen looks a little bit “crowded”, so let examine the different parts:

The upper menu (Number 1) enables us to choose the “style” of the report. The default option is: List reports and we can choose the option of: Tree reports. An additional option that we can use is the: other report, which enable us to see result of a former report (scans).

The second level menu (Number 2) is a “pre defend view” (filter) that enable us to examine specific part of the information that included in the full scan report. The default view is: All issues and we can choose another type of view such as: Critical issues or Informational Items.

The report results includes many important details about existing issues and, we can spend a long time trying to provide detailed information about each of the “finding” but instead, I would like to focus on the subject of: office software updates.

From my experience, in a troubleshooting process, we should always start with the ”obvious thing” before we start to use the “heavy artillery”. The meaning is the most of the times we ignore the issue of: Required software updates but many time, installing this software update will solve a considerable part of the problem that we are dealing with.

In the following screenshot we can see that the scan result presented under the “All issues (8 items) section. One of the most important sections is: Office Updates: Installed Updates.

We can see that the OffCAT recognize that there are important outlook software updates that are missing.

When we click on one of the “information row”, we can see detailed information about the specific software update and a link that will lead us directly to the “download page”.

In the following screenshot we can see another example for an “error” that was detected by the OffCAT. In our example we can see that there is a problem with the OAB (offline address book) that was not downloaded to the local workstation.

How to Download Microsoft Hotfix

In the section I would like to quickly review the subject of: Hotfix. One of the major advantages of the OffCAT scan is the ability to recognize problems that could be solved or fix by installing software updates classified as: Hotfix. This kind of software updates doesn't included by default in the “software update database”.

Microsoft software updates that described as: “Hotfix” are a little bit different from “standard software updates”. Hotfix updates, as the name implies, are “hot” software updates (temporary) that there primary function is to fix some issue\problem, until a “formal update” will be published. I discuss the issue of the “Hotfix” because of two reasons:

In the following section we review the procedure of downloading Hotfix.

Step 1 - Access the download page

In our scenario, a missing Hotfix was discovered by the OffCAT scan. When we click on the link, we will get to a page such as the following page:

Step 2 - Request for the Hotfix

In the following screenshot we can see that there are two versions for the Hotfix: 32 bit version and 64 bit version. When we dealing with Hotfixes that related to office, 99% of the time, the 32 bit version is the version that we will need. Despite of the fact that most of the modern OS are 64 bit versions, most of the Microsoft office versions are 32 bit.


The final screen is an: Hotfix confirmation that displays the email address to which the download link will be sent

Step 3 - Download the Hotfix

In the following screenshot we can see an example to a mail that was sent that include a download link for the hotfix.

Reading and exporting the OffCAT report file

In the last section we will review the process of working with the OffCAT scan. Each time we create a scan the report (the results) is saved in a report file using XML format. When we use the OffCAT for displaying the report, we can relate to the OffCAT as “XML viewer”, that enable us to display the information and a “readable” and easy way.

We can use the reports for exam scan results from former scan or we can save the scan result (export the results) to an XML file. The major use of the ability to export the scan results to an XML file is that in a scenario in which we implemented all of the required troubleshooting steps and we still have problems with outlook, we can send the scan result to the office 365 support team for further examination and analysis.

In the following screenshot we can see that at the end of the scanning process, one of the available options is: Export report.

When we choose the option of: export report, the report will be saved as an XML file.


In case that we want to export a “former” OffCAT scan results, we can use the export option by using the main menu.

In the following screenshot we can see the name of the available OffCAT scans

We can choose the option of: view a report of this scan. In this scenario the OffCAT serve as a “viewer” for the XML file that include the scan results.

In case that we want to export the scan result, we should choose the option: Export this scan

Additional reading


Download PDF File

You can download a PDF version of the instructions


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