Here is a great tip if you are having problems with regular hangs/pauses in Entourage — especially with hangs that slow down your Mac with extended periods of heavy unexplained disk activity. Particularly noticeable for people with large 1GB+ mail databases.

You can reduce disk churning by using a somewhat hidden option to turn off Entourage’s background database integrity check.

Warning: Turning off Entourage’s database integrity check does improve performance for users with large mail databases. However if you go this route, make sure you have an excellently maintained backup system in place to protect yourself from loss of data.

Turning off Entourage’s Background Database integrity check.

To access this hidden feature, launch Entourage while holding down the Option key. The Entourage Database Manager utility will launch instead:

Choose Set Database Preferences and click Continue.

Uncheck “Perform Database integrity check in the background.”

Click Save to close that window. Then quit out of the Database Utility.

Warning: Backup and Maintenance Needed.

If you turn this option off it is highly recommended that you use the Database Utility to verify your mail database periodically. To be on the safe side set up a monthly task to remind you.

Also, do not turn this feature off unless you have an excellent, maintained backup system. Loss of your entire email archives (especially large ones) can be devastating for a company. (In fact, the database check provides only a modicum of protection — make sure you have a good backup in place no matter what you do with this option.)

Note from Craig: This feature has been disabled on my personal copy of Entourage for over a year and I have not missed it. However I do periodically verify the integrity of my mail database, and we have a well maintained backup system to protect against loss.

Source: This tip originally inspired by an Entourage troubleshooting issue last year for Hamilton Creative Group. More recently prompted by a post on MacWorld’s great Mac 911 blog by Christopher Breen. (There is also a good troubleshooting resource at The Entourage Help Page.)