By David Gewirtz
A reader recently asked us:
All my rules are coming as (client only) rules and I can't run all of them. The system has turned off some of them for lack of space.
How can I change them into server-based rules?
Let's answer this in two parts. First, let's understand the difference between client and server rules.
If you run Outlook as your email client and you get your email through an Exchange server, server-based rules are those rules that run on the Exchange server, not on your local computer.
This can be a big win because rules can run even when your computer is off, when Outlook is closed, and can process messages before you download them.
I like these a lot because I have a number of server rules that run to file mailing lists and other expected email, and so, if I'm traveling and want to check my inbox on my iPhone, I don't have to sift through all sorts of other messages -- nor do I have to worry whether I left Outlook open on my desktop when I left.
Some rules can't be run on the server. For example, if you have a rule that requires printing, it can't run on the server. It'll be called (client only).
In general, client-only rules apply to data that's only on the client. One of the more bizarre client-only limitations is category. Categories live, in general, on the client so if you're attempting to assign a message to a category, it'll suddenly become a client-only rule.
Microsoft lists the following conditions that cause a rule to be client-only:
- Through the specified account
- Assigned to category category
- Uses the form name form
- With selected properties of documents or forms
- Sender is in specified Address Book
- On this machine only
There are also specific rule actions that will force a rule to be client-only:
- Move it to a folder (see note below)
- Print it
- Assign it to the category category
- Reply using a specific template
- Flag message for action in a number of days
- Flag message with a colored flag
- Play a sound
- Run a script
- Start application
- Mark it as importance
- Display a specific message in the New Item Alert window
- Display a Desktop Alert
Now, I have a bunch of server-based rules that move messages to folders. The key here is that if the folder you're moving the message to exists on your PC only, then it becomes a client-only rule.
Some of these (like printing) make sense. Others, like flagging the message, assigning it to a category, or marking importance should really work on the server as well. Hopefully, in time, they will.
Size of rules
A very serious limit that Outlook imposes (and, which, personally I think is ridiculous) is the storage limit for rules is 32K. I've seen this a lot with users and the issue is that you probably need to find better ways to generalize your rules. I hit it myself once when I tried to manage junk mail by listing all of the email addresses of spammers in rules -- but then I moved them to the Junk mail filter and I freed up a ton of space.