SOLUTION: Outlook 2016 will not start (stuck on “Loading Profile”)

This morning, I received a call from a client who was unable to open Outlook 2016 suddenly following an upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update.  This problem may or may not have been directly related to that update, but the timing was at the very least coordinated with it.

Each time the client clicked the shortcut to open Outlook, the splash screen opened and Outlook would hang on the “Loading Profile” screen.  These sorts of symptoms are actually not all that uncommon, and a range of different solutions exist to rectify them.

The solution this time, however, was not at all obvious.  After trying all of the usual fixes:

  • Disabling Hardware Acceleration via the registry
  • Starting Outlook in Safe Mode (outlook.exe /safe)
  • Checking/disabling compatibility troubleshooter flags on the Outlook shortcut
  • Resetting the nav pane (outlook.exe /resetnavpane)
  • Creating a new Outlook profile
  • Repairing Outlook via an Office 2016 Online Repair
  • Completely reinstalling Office 2016
  • sfc /scannow
  • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  • netsh winsock reset
  • netsh int ip reset
  • ipconfig /flushdns
  • A complete Windows 10 “network reset”

Nothing corrected the problem.  Only one bizarre workaround provoked it to open with the Exchange account attached, and that was to disable all network connectivity (in other words, by invoking, for instance, Airplane Mode).  While disconnected, Outlook opened right up.

Some troubleshooting using Process Explorer revealed that Outlook TCP connections were opening but apparently failing during the launch.  This, along with a run of the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365, eventually led to the solution:

Disabling IPV6 in the network adapter!

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu and choose Network Connections.
    1. (If on the latest Windows 10 build, you’ll need to perform this step next:) Scroll down to the bottom and click Change adapter options
  2. Double-click your primary network adapter.
  3. Click Properties.
  4. UNcheck Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)
  5. Click OK.

Voila!  Outlook now opens normally.

After this one, I had a beer.

SOLUTION: Switch Windows 10 from RAID/IDE to AHCI operation

PSA: You should not be attempting these fixes unless you’re a professional!  And it goes without saying, you will ALWAYS need your local admin password, recovery media, and backups of your data before fooling around with low-level storage driver configuration — or really anything else for that matter.  See the comments section below for examples of a couple of people who ran into mishaps after encountering other underlying issues or forgetting their admin password before starting the process.  PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

It’s not uncommon to find a system on which RAID drivers have been installed and something like the Intel Rapid Storage Technology package is handling storage devices, but where an SSD might require AHCI operation for more optimal performance or configurability. In these cases, there is in fact a way to switch operation from either IDE or RAID to AHCI within Windows 10 without having to reinstall.  Here’s how.

  1. Right-click the Windows Start Menu. Choose Command Prompt (Admin).
    1. If you don’t see Command Prompt listed, it’s because you have already been updated to a later version of Windows.  If so, use this method instead to get to the Command Prompt:
      1. Click the Start Button and type cmd
      2. Right-click the result and select Run as administrator
  2. Type this command and press ENTER: bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal
    1. If this command does not work for you, try bcdedit /set safeboot minimal
  3. Restart the computer and enter BIOS Setup (the key to press varies between systems).
  4. Change the SATA Operation mode to AHCI from either IDE or RAID (again, the language varies).
  5. Save changes and exit Setup and Windows will automatically boot to Safe Mode.
  6. Right-click the Windows Start Menu once more. Choose Command Prompt (Admin).
  7. Type this command and press ENTER: bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot
    1. If you had to try the alternate command above, you will likely need to do so here also: bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot
  8. Reboot once more and Windows will automatically start with AHCI drivers enabled.

That’s all there is to it!  Special thanks to Toobad here for outlining this procedure.

Update 8/2/17:  Thanks also to Aalaap Ghag for clarification of instructions for those who have already updated to the Creators Update.  Thanks also to those who wrote in about removing {current} to make this work for some users.