Some Outlook users have reported that when they open their mailbox from the application, they get an error message The format of the server rules was not recognized. As per the error message, Outlook fails to recognize the format of the server rules. This issue is caused by problematic rules that must be removed from the service.
There was an error reading the rules from the server. The format of the server rules was not recognized.
Fix The format of the server rules was not recognized in Outlook
The error is linked with the rule engine, therefore any issue regarding it such as
inconsistency may give rise to the error. One can remedy the situation by reloading
the rules as well as removing the rules that may cause it. Glitches in the
enforced rules or corrupted files may also be the ones causing this situation so
run the ScanPST.exe tool and reset Outlook.SRS files to get rid of this situation.
Follow the solutions mentioned below if you see The format of the server rules was not recognized in Outlook.
- Reset the Rule Engine of Outlook
- Add all currently enforced rules after deleting them
- Delete the latest rule from Outlook.com
- Reset the Outlook.SRS file
- Run Inbox Repair Tool
Let’s use these methods to resolve this issue.
1] Reset the Rule Engine of Outlook
The first thing we need to do in this troubleshooting guide is to reset the Rule Engine by running the /cleanrules command before re-constructing the server’s rules.
Follow the steps to reset the rule engine:
- Open Outlook and click on Manage Rules & Alerts from the File tab.
- Next, click on Options.
- Hit on Export rules, now select a newly created folder in which we have to save local files, and write its name.
- Click on the Save button to complete the creation of a local backup of your rules.
Exchange accounts users need to create backups with different names for each user.
- Close Outlook when the backup has been created. Not just click on the Cross button, go to Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc), look for processes related to Outlook, right-click on it and select End Task.
- Now, Press Windows + R key to open the Run dialog box.
- Type the following command and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to run with admin access:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\OUTLOOK.EXE" /cleanrules
- This will reset the entire rule engine but if the installation path is different then adjust it accordingly.
You can change the parameters based on which rules you need to delete.
/cleanclientrules = To delete client-side rules
/cleanserverrules = To delete server-side rules
After clearing the rules, reboot your system and then open Outlook. Hopefully, your issue will be resolved.
2] Add all currently enforced rules after deleting them
One of the reasons that can trigger the error reading the rules from the server is corrupted Outlook rules. Creating a backup of these rules in a local file and then deleting it can help us to resolve this issue as it will allow fresh and uncorrupted rules to get created. Here is how to do it:
- Start Outlook and go to the Manage Rules & Alerts from File > Options
- Click on Export rules and select the folder in which you want to save the local files, and write its name.
- Now hit Save to create a local backup of your rules.
- Restart Outlook and reconnect your account if prompted to do so.
- Here, go to File and click on Rules and select Manage Rules & Alerts.
- Next, it will ask to select between the client and server options. Select the client option.
- Finally, to import the rules backup you previously saved, click on Import Rules.
Restart Outlook and see if the problem is now fixed.
3] Delete the latest rule from Outlook.com
If the error started plaguing the device after locally adding new rules to Outlook then
make sure to reset the rules not only at the rule engine but also at a server level,
otherwise, this issue will continue to persist. In this case, we have to log in with your mailbox account into Outlook.com and delete the newly created rule.
Let’s learn how to do it:
- Launch a browser of your choice and visit outlook.office.com.
- Once Outlook opens on your computer, use the credentials you normally use to log in.
- On the top-right corner of the screen, click on the gear icon from the dashboard.
- On the Settings menu’s associated search field, type “rules” and then click on Inbox rules.
- Here we will see all your current inbox rules. Find the rule that you last added before you started to experience the error and then remove it.
Finally, check if the issue is resolved.
4] Reset the Outlook.SRS file
A lot of users reported that Outlook boots up without the error code, and in such scenarios, the .SRS file is at fault. An SRS file stores data about the sent and received parameters of an active Outlook account. As this file also stores information about emails, both incoming and outgoing for your outlook profiles, it is impossible to delete it. We can rename the files, though, so that the client will have to disregard them and generate a new file.
Follow the prescribed steps to reset Outlook.SRS file.
- Close Outlook and make sure it is not running in the background. You can check the Task Manager to confirm that.
- Press the Windows + E key to open File Explorer and navigate to the following location
- Find out the Outlook.srs file and right-click on it and select the Rename option.
- Now change the previous name to Outlook_old.srs to force Outlook to ignore it.
- After finishing this process, start Outlook and see if the problem is now fixed.
Hopefully, this will do the job for you.
5] Run Inbox Repair Tool
If after executing all the solutions mentioned above, your issue persists, it is very likely that it is due to a corrupted Personal Folder (.pst). In that case, we need to run the Inbox Repair Tool as that will scrutinize the Personal Folder, and repair every inconsistency.
- Close Outlook, open file explorer, and go to the following file
C:\ Program Files
- Go to the correct path, then use the search feature in the upper-right corner to find out SCANPST.exe and double-click on it to execute.
- If we are using an older Office version then we can manually search for it in one of the following locations:
2016: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16 2013: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15 2010: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14 2007: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12
- After searching PSTScan.exe program, run it and select the Browse button to specify the location of your PST file. Once we have successfully loaded the proper file into the Inbox repair program, click Start to perform a scan for corruption a dialog box will display the problems and inconsistencies that were discovered.
After resetting the files, check if the issue is resolved.
We hope that you have resolved the issue using any of the aforementioned solutions.
Also Read: How to Delete or Turn off Rules in Outlook
How do I fix Outlook error reading the rules from the server?
If Outlook is unable to read the rules it is very likely that the rules are corrupted. You can remove the corrupted one and add the fresh one. However, you also take the backup of Rules, remove them and then add them.
How do I change Outlook rules on server?
To change rules, just go to Files > Options > Manage Rules & Alert. This will open the Rules and Alert window, from here, you can add or remove rules. Make sure to select the correct Email account before configuring rules if you have multiple accounts.