Common Office 365 issues and their solutions

Monitor screen showing a range of Office 365 apps

Common Office 365 issues and their solutions

There’s nothing more frustrating for people when they’re trying to get on with their working day than a technical issue that prevents them from making progress. Thankfully, for every unexpected bug or setback, there’s a solution.

Launched in 2011, Office 365 has become the go-to cloud productivity suite for businesses. Since then, many issues have been discovered and then successfully solved by Microsoft. But, like with any piece of software, features in Office 365 evolve over time, and new features are added. This introduces new bugs and features that users find challenging to use.

In this article, we explore the most common Office 365 issues and also provide some potential solutions so you can fix sort problems with Outlook, Word, Teams, OneDrive, and other 365 applications yourself.

Account access (login issues)

Login issues are some of the common Office 365 problems that people encounter. Let’s explore some of these issues and their solutions.

Wrong ID or password

Problem

Sometimes people are unable to sign into the Office 365 portal. The following error message is displayed when this error occurs:

We are unable to recognise this user ID or password.

Cause

The password is incorrect, or the service that handles log-ins is not responding.

Solutions

  • People experiencing this issue should ensure the correct password is entered, checking for spaces and other unexpected characters.
  • Typing out the password instead of copy-and-pasting ensures no unexpected characters are entered
  • If your Office 365 administrator has enabled resetting passwords by users, someone encountering this issue can reset their account using this link to Microsoft’s password reset service
  • Otherwise, your Office 365 administrator should be contacted to reset the password or confirm any potential issues with the login service itself

Tips

  • Always define a recovery email address when configuring Office 365 accounts in your business
  • Passwords are case sensitive
  • Passwords copied from documents, note applications, and other software can contain spaces and other unexpected characters that will lead to incorrect password errors
  • Always encourage people in your business to avoid storing passwords in documents, note apps, and any other place that isn’t 100% secure and encrypted (especially sticky notes on monitors or in notebooks)
  • We recommend the use of password management software in your business

Account locked

Problem

When trying to log in to their Office 365 account, people can sometimes encounter an error message like this:

Your account has been locked. Contact your support person to unlock it, then try again.

Cause

Office 365 accounts can become locked if an incorrect password has been entered too many times or if there’s a security issue. Microsoft temporarily locks accounts when unusual activity is detected.

Solution

The first thing to try is simply waiting 15 minutes and trying again. 

If the account is still locked and a recovery email address has not been defined, the person experiencing this issue can fill out the Microsoft account recovery form, answering as many questions as possible.

Alternatively, they may need to ask their Office 365 administrator to run through the following process so they can sign in again:

  1. Under Users, Select Active Users
  2. Locate the user, and then click the user’s Display name to open the settings pane
  3. At the top of the pane, select Unblock sign-in
  4. In the Unblock sign-in screen, de-select Block this user from signing in and click Save changes

The admin may also need to perform a password reset.

Tips

  • We recommend you always enable two-factor authentication for Office 365 user accounts

Activation issues

Problem

If an account is not activated, the following error message will be displayed:

“Product deactivated. To keep using Word [or other application] without interruption, choose the option below to reactivate.”

Cause

An individual’s Office 365 account must be activated to use Office 365 applications. It may become deactivated if:

  • The subscription has expired
  • Multiple versions of Microsoft Office are installed
  • An Office 365 application hasn’t connected to Microsoft servers in 30 days

Solution

Check the version of Microsoft Office installed on the computer to make sure it is up to date. Then check that the subscription is active and renew if it isn’t.

Office 365 applications installed on a computer must connect to Microsoft servers over the Internet at least once every 30 days to check and validate the license. These applications will be deactivated until they connect to Microsoft licensing servers and the license is renewed.

Uninstall old versions of Microsoft Office from the computer and try to activate Microsoft Office 365 again.

Tips

  • Your IT administrator should also ensure that network access to the Microsoft servers is not blocked, checking the firewall, router, and DNS configuration

Connectivity

Problem

Office 365 applications, their interfaces or the data within them are slow to load or don’t fully load at all. 

Cause

As Office 365 is mainly a cloud-based tool, it creates a high bandwidth demand. While working online with Office 365, users must have a healthy availability of bandwidth to have a smooth, lag-free experience without long loading times, especially while managing many files in OneDrive. 

Solution

  • Close other applications that have a high bandwidth demand, including those for file syncing, social media, and music and video streaming.
  • Upgrade the Internet connection to something more capable of working with multiple cloud-based applications like superfast broadband.

File synchronisation

Problem

Office 365 file syncing problems on Office Mobile (and occasionally for Office 365 desktop applications like OneDrive and Outlook).

Recently opened files are not visible in every application whenever you open them.

Cause

Synchronisation problems for OneDrive can be caused by the device not having the latest version of the OneDrive client installed, as well as poor Internet connections. This issue can be fairly common for mobile users. 

Solution

  • Ensure that all recent updates are installed
  • Use the Remote Connectivity Analyzer to identify connectivity issues that may be the cause of Office 365 services not working correctly
  • Check that files don’t exceed OneDrive limits, such as the maximum file size and the number of objects in a folder

If the problem still occurs, it means the file has never synchronised with OneDrive, which can mean that the device may not be connected properly to the Internet.

Updates

Problem

The latest versions of Office 365 applications are not being installed automatically, resulting in poor performance and bugs. This potentially also makes the device vulnerable to security problems.

Office 365 is not detecting a new update (and you can’t see the “You’re up to date!” message).

Cause

Automatic installation of Office 365 updates can fail for a number of reasons, including:

  • The Operating System (OS) does not support the updated version of Microsoft Office 365
  • An Internet connection is not available, or a firewall is blocking network connections.

Solution

  • Ensure the OS is up-to-date (using the latest available update that can be installed on the device)
  • Check for a stable and reasonably fast Internet connection on the device requiring the update
  • Check the Office 365 update channel (File > Office Account and then About) – the exact channel used will depend on the Office 365 subscription plan and configuration

Tips

  • Windows 7 and Windows 8 do not support the latest Office 365 versions, so you will need to replace or update the machine so it is running Windows 10
  • The Monthly Enterprise Channel is available for Business and Enterprise subscription plans one month after the main release

Painful migrations

Problem

Migrating from older versions of Office applications like Outlook or SharePoint using an automated migration tool doesn’t work and the process must be completed manually.

Cause

Not all migrations can be completed automatically using an Office 365 migration tool for a few reasons: 

  • a requirement to assign rights to users’ mailboxes
  • the need for selective migration (ie only some of the data can be migrated or some of the data isn’t needed)
  • a number of other possible technical reasons.

Solution

The only real solution here is to take help from an expert who has experience completing this challenging and often highly technical task.

You can contact us to perform your Office 365 migration.

Lack of support

Problem

When you pay for a service or plan, you expect full technical support from the vendor. But, with Office 365, users don’t always get the support that they need.

While Microsoft does provide some assistance, the company doesn’t provide a support system to deal with each and every support request. So, if you have a query related to Office 365, then you’ll have to wait a while to get an efficient solution. Far from ideal for a busy business.

Solution

Your options are to either take help from an external IT support service provider or use a tool like the Office 365 Repair Tool for installed software and Service Health for online apps to fix your issues internally.

A Managed IT Support service will provide support for the entire Microsoft 365 subscription and toolset, keeping your teams fully supported 24/7, helping you avoid unplanned downtime and expensive delays in your projects. This service should also keep your systems and devices up-to-date, protected, patched, and secure.

Need Office 365 support?

We help businesses and organisations across Scotland to identify and solve issues with their Microsoft 365 subscription and Office 365 tools.

Our Managed IT Support service ensures you always have a Microsoft 365 expert on hand to deal with any issues quickly. This service also provides comprehensive network and device security, proactive 24/7 monitoring, reporting and alerting, leading antivirus protection, patch management and more – all with a personal, reliable service for one manageable monthly payment.

Contact us today to begin the conversation about your 365 support requirements.

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