How to resolve Office problems with the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant

How to resolve Office problems with the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant


Microsoft offers a tool that can help troubleshoot certain issues with Office. Here’s how to use the Support and Recovery Assistant.

Office 365

Image: Microsoft

You’re having trouble with Office 365—either you directly or someone you may support at your business. Maybe it’s not installing or activating properly. Perhaps it’s installed and activated, but a specific program such as Outlook isn’t working properly. What can you do? You can always try running a repair or even a reinstall of Office 365. Another option is to avail yourself of a tool called the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365.

More conveniently known as SaRA, the Support and Recovery Assistant runs a series of tests to scan for problems and maladies in Office 365. The tool is geared toward resolving issues with Outlook, but it also handles other applications in the suite as well as programs such as: Dynamics 365, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, and Outlook on the Web. If SaRA finds something amiss, the tool can try to fix the problem or help you resolve it.

Despite its name, SaRA doesn’t support just Office 365. You can use it with Office 2016, 2013, and 2010 in Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, or Windows 7. However, it is designed for a business environment running Office 365 on the backend. As an example, the Outlook troubleshooter works only with Office 365 mailboxes and does not support personal mailboxes such those with Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

SEE: 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office (free PDF) (TechRepublic download)

Download and install SaRA from Microsoft’s Outlook Support Center site. Open the program. The main screen offers different categories for you to select depending on the problem you’re experiencing (Figure A):

  • Office – Problems installing or activating Office.

  • Outlook – Problems setting up or using features in Outlook.

  • Dynamics 365 (online) – Problems installing or signing into Dynamics 365.

  • OneDrive for Business – Problems installing or syncing files with OneDrive for Business.

  • Skype for Business – Problems signing in to Skype for Business.

  • Advanced diagnostics – Problems with Outlook or Exchange.

Figure A

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To view more categories, click the See More link at the bottom. The tool adds the following three (Figure B):

  • Outlook on the web – Problems using Outlook.com.

  • Outlook for Mac – Problems using Outlook on a Mac.

  • Mobile devices – Problems using Office on your mobile device.

Figure B

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Select the category that most closely relates to your problem and click Next. At the next screen, select the specific problem that’s occurring. Click Next (Figure C).

Figure C

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At the next screen, confirm that this is the computer experiencing the problem. Click Next (Figure D).

Figure D

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At the next screen, enter the email address and password for your Office 365 account. Click Next (Figure E).

Figure E

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SaRA validates your account and proceeds to troubleshoot the problem (Figure F).

Figure F

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The results will vary depending on the problem and SaRA’s own abilities. It may tell you that the problem is resolved. If so, try opening and using the misbehaving application to confirm this. It may tell you that it couldn’t find a problem or that it found a problem but couldn’t resolve it. In this case, your next step may be to contact Microsoft Support—you can use SaRA to gather data that could prove helpful.

Restart the program and choose the category for Advanced Diagnostics. Select the type of diagnostic to run. Check the box to indicate that you’re working with Microsoft support personnel on this issue. Click Next (Figure G).

Figure G

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Confirm that this is the affected computer. Click Next. The tool may ask you to open Outlook or another program. If you can, open the program. If not, click the Skip button. The tool then gathers the necessary configuration data. Click Next (Figure H).

Figure H

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At the next screen, click on the links to view the generated log files. Click the link to See All Logs to open a folder containing all the log files. Finally, click Send if you wish to send the log files to Microsoft Support for troubleshooting (Figure I).

Figure I

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