Black mark Cloudmark

August 10, 2007

Vista busy cursor Yesterday, Outlook 2007 went into crash loop mode. This is where on launching the application a standard Microsoft dialog appears saying that an error has been encountered and Outlook has to close. This started up out of the blue without warning. There was no way to get Outlook running.

I could still get my emails (my ISP, Pipex, provides a webmail alternative) but Outlook still needed fixing.

I tried a system restore (this is on Windows XP – haven’t dared try Vista!) going back one day, to when I knew Outlook was working fine, but this did not help.

Then I had one of those “Aha!” moments. I had just turned DEP up to full protection mode, having just discovered how to do so without disabling my printer. Maybe it was a case of Outlook, or some component of it, falling foul of DEP. I whitelisted Outlook so that it would run without DEP checking up on it. And … it still crashed. Doh!

I started Googling for inspiration and found this forum item on experiencewindows.co.uk, which blamed problems like this on Outlook add-ins, in this case an “email to pdf” add-in, and explained how the problem could be solved by changing the value of the add-in’s LoadBehavior key in the Registry from 3 to 2.

I felt I was now on the right track, but I don’t have an email to pdf add-in. I do however have a number of other add-ins. I set the key value to 2 for all the not obviously OK Microsoft ones and … Outlook started fine. Hooray.

I noticed though that the Cloudmark toolbar had disappeared. If you don’t know, Cloudmark is the best anti-spam system going. It checks for spam against a database of known spam emails which have been reported by Cloudmark users, of which there are many. The database is held centrally on the Internet – hence “in the clouds” – hence Cloudmark – get it? Very occasionally some spam gets through, which means you’re (one of) the first Cloudmarkers to encounter it, so you report it as spam, but most incoming spam has already been reported so goes straight to the spam folder. Brilliant!

I wondered though, could the mysterious new Outlook crashing problem have come out of the clouds rather than out of the blue? I systematically turned the LoadBehavior keys back to 3, one by one, to identify the culprit. Sure enough, it was the Cloudmark add-in causing the crashes.

Next stop the Cloudmark forum. I found this thread which confirmed that I was not alone, and provided a simple solution. Uninstall Cloudmark, rename one folder on my C: drive then reinstall Cloudmark.

Problem solved, but I still don’t know why this suddenly started happening or who to blame. If anyone knows any more I’d be interested to hear from you.

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One comment

  1. We have the cuplrit and there is indeed a black mark due to Cloudmark.

    They have posted this alert on their support pages.

    Case closed.

    And it looks like someone else got the runaround looking for a fix.

    I’m now waiting for some bright spark to ask why Cloudmark didn’t email their users to warn them of the problem …

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