Office 2004: Database Daemon and application freezes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
November 22nd, 2004 • 6:01 am

I personally have always avoided Microsoft’s e-mail software like the plague. (It’s hard enough to rely on Word for word processing. I simply cannot imagine depending on Microsoft for e-mail communication.) Which explains why I so rarely report on Entourage in this blog.

Betalogue reader Nate, however, was kind enough to send me this link to his own blog entry on a recurring problem that he’s been experiencing with Microsoft Office 2004’s Database Daemon, the background application that Entourage relies on for real-time tasks such as calendar alarms, contact information synchronization between Office applications, etc.

It sounds like a pretty bad bug. I haven’t experienced it myself since I don’t run Database Daemon. (One of my first concerns immediately after installing Office 2004 was to make sure that the application was not included in my login items and would not try to run behind my back.)

While Apple’s Mail and Address Book and iCal applications have many flaws, one good thing about them is that they generally are quite reliable. I certainly don’t remember ever experiencing this type of application freeze due to cross-application synchronization issues.

Of course, using Apple’s own solution has the added benefit that other third party applications can use the Address Book and iCal data for their own purposes. If you are using Entourage, the usefulness of your calendar and contact information is limited to Microsoft’s own applications.

To put it succintly, Nate’s report does nothing to encourage me to give Entourage a try or recommend it to other people.

7 Responses to “Office 2004: Database Daemon and application freezes”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    Josh and Evan: Integration with the Address Book and iCal is indeed invaluable to me. I simply cannot imagine going back to a situation where I have to manage separate databases of contact information.

    I fully agree with all the criticism about Mail (I’ve written extensively about the application myself, most recently here, here and here), but the key thing is that the application is improving. Believe me, I am a “power user” as well, and I do need advanced features.

    The other big no-no as far as I am concerned is the proprietary single-file database format. I just won’t take that risk. It’s the main reason why I’ve never given Mailsmith a decent try. It only takes one database failure to screw up a lot of things, and I’ve read horror stories about Entourage over the years… If it’s never happened to you, well, good for you — but it’s not reassuring enough for me.

  2. Josh says:

    I’m with Evan. I’m a die-hard Entourage user, and v. 2004 is a very good release with a much-improved Junk Filter. I simply cannot downgrade to now that I’ve gotten used to Entourage’s UI and advanced feature set. There’s just no comparison.

    I have never had any instability problems with Entourage, and I’m what you’d call a “Power User” – exercising every muscle of the app. It’s origins lie in Claris Em@iler — a very fine app in it’s day.

    I too disable Office Notifications, and don’t use Entourage as my contact/datebook PIM (preferring Now Up to Date and Contact, actually, for SOHO collaboration and superior Palm HotSync conduits.)

    That said, I recommend to newbies, my mom, and folks who value app integration above all else. In the meantime I am willing to live with data redundancy in order to enjoy the more powerful email app — as I use email more than any other communication medium, on my Mac and in my life.

  3. Evan Gross says:

    While I agree with you about the Office apps in general, and I make sure that Office Notifications are off (so the DD doesn’t launch at login, though it still opens whenever Entourage does), Entourage is a MUCH better-behaved app than the rest of them.

    This is because it’s quite a bit newer, so doesn’t have all that ancient “older-than-the-programmers-that-work-on-it” code inside.

    And it was likely developed by a smaller team, including some really well-known and respected Mac programming veterans (Dan Crevier, Omar Shahine, though they no longer work on Entourage, I don’t think).

    I don’t experience any stability problems with the app (it has had some bugs, and they do actually get fixed over time), does per-folder column and sort settings (the main reason I just can’t use All in all, it’s a good piece of work, much unlike the rest of Office.

    But yes, it would indeed be nice if it used Apple’s Address Book for its contact database. There are solutions to sync the two, but I rarely bother doing that (because it’s a pain).

  4. Michael Tsai says:

    Pierre: Mailsmith does use a proprietary database, but it uses one file per mailbox.

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Michael: Maybe so, but the last time I tried to import my mailboxes into Mailsmith, the resulting database was twice the size of the database in Mail. And the performance of the application was not exactly impressive.

  6. Warren Beck says:

    I’ve recently switched to Entourage from and have been pleased with the responsivity of the database and the additional organizational features, which include the ability to make links between related messages. I’ve been especially pleased with Entourage’s responsiveness with IMAP servers (including Mail. app is is sluggish in comparison, even with, which is surprising. I continue to be critic of MS and the MacBU, but the Entourage 2004 package is surprisingly good.

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    Cool. I have little experience with IMAP accounts, being that I am on a modem connection. In that respect, in my situation the responsiveness issues are first and foremost hardware-based, not software-based :).

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