As an IBM Champion, I often have to save clients from misinformation and FUD about Lotus Notes. Other times, I have to save them from themselves. Sometimes, I just have to put on my cape and save the day. I love challenges, but some are harder than others...
A client called me recently to tell me that after many years of happily using Lotus Notes, he now had a problem: his folders in his Lotus Notes Mail are disappearing - yes disappearing. Let me explain. He opens his Lotus Notes mail and clicks on "Folders" in the left hand outline. Normally, this would expand to show the list of available folders. In his case, as soon as you click on the folders entry the list of folders disappears. I created a new database with just a few test messages and folders - same problem.
Some background: The mail file in question is 8GB (I know, that's another issue) and the problem only occurs on only two of the 5 computers that have replicas of this database. I do the normal stuff to check for database issues including various levels of Fixup and Compact all the way to the extreme end of replacing the database with a fresh replica. Finally, think it was something machine specific I even did a full wipe and reinstall of Notes client. No luck.
The problem occurred when opening that one file and it did not matter if accessed it locally or on the Domino Server. What's really strange is that I could open the file from my workstation and all folders appear just fine. I even tried different versions of the Notes Mail template from 6.x - 8.5x. Same result.
Having exhausted the options I could think of, I contacted my friend, Stephan Wissel, who knows all there is to know about Notes. Stephan reminded me of his recommended tips fixing a Lotus Notes database. Stephan then offered some additional suggestions on how to troubleshoot my client's Notes database issue:
1) Network compression enabled?
2) ODS51 with design and data compression?
3) Are the NSF properly defragmented?
Note: The settings above don't replicate ---> check these on each machine
4) Good idea is to have FolderReferences enabled
When Notes replicates the view/folder indexes are not replicated, only documents. So if client hasn't used some of the NSF for a while the view indexer will need to reindex the folder he tries to open - and that might take time. A manual "updall" from the command line probably helps (use my fix-script to be sure).
I tried all of the above with no improvement. I want to thank Stephan, though. checklist is a little more extensive than my own and it helped me rule out fixes that would not work.
Meanwhile, customer is not happy and talking about dumping Lotus Notes and switching to GMail. I'm not happy because I know that would be a disaster for him but I couldn't fix his problem and I was unable to explain why his folders disappear on two of his 5 computers.
Then I found it. It's probably not what you think.
In the next blog post, I will share the solution I found and it did not involve a migration to GMail.
Meanwhile, if you want to guess at the cause and fix, here's your opportunity...