Diagnosing Feed Reading Problems in IE, Part 2

In the last post, I used PowerShell to talk to the Windows RSS Platform, give me my feeds, retrieve a particular feed, Toolmonger, and mark it read.  If this had worked, the Toolmonger item in the IE feeds list would be unbolded and marked as read.

The RSS platform does mark the feed appropriately, as you can see, but IE does not indicate it as read.

As I write this, I’m still looking for the answer.  Here’s what else I’ve found.

The RSS feed database, which is one for each user on the machine, is stored in each user profile under appdata\microsoft\feeds:

Note the FeedsStore.feedsdb-ms.  It may keep track of unread items.  Note too that all the feed folders have a tilde (~) appended to them;  this is true for all folders, subfolders and feeds.  I’m not sure what the hidden GUID folder is about, but it was last changed when my old profile was imported from Vista into Seven.

Here’s the Technology folder:

  

The files are binary blobs with bits of XML (the feed content) embedded within.  Enclosures and images don’t appear to be included.

While I have no solution yet for my problem, there are a few things you can try if your RSS feeds don’t work in IE.

Most likely symptom you’ll have is that one feed may never update or IE may report feed errors.  Check first that it isn’t a problem with the site (IE 8 is much better with RSS compatibility, but some sites still break it) and that the feed still exists.  Then try these things in order:

  1. Quit IE.  Delete Feedsstore.feeds-ms.  Restart IE.  Your feeds will all be marked as unread.
  2. If you know the feed causing problems, delete it and quit IE.  Restart IE, go to the web site with the feed and try readding it.
  3. If you don’t know the problem feed—and sometimes you may not—you may need to open PowerShell and walk through each of your feed folders as detailed in Part 1.  Corrupt items won’t be retrievable;  the one that isn’t is the bad one.
  4. You may need to export all your feeds and recreate them.  In IE go to File/Import and Export and select Export to A File.  Click Next.  Select Feeds.  Click Next.   It will export to an OPML file in your directory.  Delete all your feeds in IE.  Quit IE and restart it.  Go to File/Import and Export and select Import from a File.  Select Feeds.  Select the OPML file you just created and click OK.  Click Import.

A frustrating scenario you might run into is when the IE export runs into a corrupted feed and won’t finish.  I’ve used Process Monitor to determine what feed is choking, in which case I have to delete the feed and try the export again.

I’ve only done the first step, deleting feedsstore.feeds-ms, in my case.  It didn’t work.   I haven’t tried the others because I wanted to learn more about the problem.  I also hate turning my machine upside down only to find the problem still persisting;  there are many Windows reinstalls that did nothing to fix things, that turned out to have some other cause that reinstalling would never fix.

I think that, rather than the feeds manager not working, IE is not properly refreshing the feeds window to reflect the current status.  I note that when I manually mark feeds as read in IE, the feed is updated (unbolded) properly.  I also note that some feeds will update their unread status immediately when I close their associated windows.  Other feeds will not.  I haven’t discovered any commonality between feeds that update their status and feeds that don’t.

Throughout this, the feeds manager has been working and giving me plenty of feed items to read.

I’d like to find a solution.  It is a minor problem, but it is also a significant fit-and-finish problem for the IE team.  UI appearance matters.  I’d be happy to share this with the IE team if I knew where to file a report.

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