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Archiving Outlook Email
PST Data Files in Outlook 2003 (Personal Folder Files)
Microsoft Outlook uses "PST Files" to store its data: "Outlook.pst", as the file is called by default, contains all your emails, contacts, information about your email folder structure… Emails you receive in Outlook are directly "written to" your PST file.
PST Files are sometimes also called "Personal Folder files"; the acronym PST actually stands for "Personal Storage Table".
PST and Data File Management in Outlook 2003
Strictly speaking, Outlook 2003 only needs a single PST file to store all your emails and data; however, as time passes and your PST file size explodes, Outlook will need to store older emails to archive PST files to maintain an optimal performance.
Your Outlook.pst personal folder file is stored under your Windows profile; the actual location of the PST file depends (1) on the version of Windows you are using (XP, Vista…), and (2) on your personal settings (you can customize where Outlook stores its PST files).
PST Files, OST Files, Plug In Files
If you are using Outlook 2003 in conjunction with Exchange (Microsoft's mail server software), or other third party email servers, you might run across "OST Files" or other cached database "DB" files. These other types of files are used by Outlook to store a local copy of emails otherwise stored on the mail server.
These cached file types allow you to view your emails in Outlook even if the mail server is down, or if you are disconnected from the corporate network (on a plane with your laptop, for example).
Managing PST Files in Outlook 2003
To view PST files used by Outlook 2003 with your profile, go to File > Data File Management, and the Outlook Data Files dialog will open. The Outlook Data Files dialog lists all PST files currently being used by Outlook.
you should see two entries:
By default, Outlook 2003 will store your profile's PST files under your Windows profile directory.
While Outlook 2003 allows you to change the location of your PST files, it is advisable to leave them under their default location, both to make troubleshooting easier in case of problem, and for security reasons (anything stored under your Windows profile directory is protected from access by other users).
Manually Archive Emails in Outlook 2003
You will want to regularly "archive" your old emails. Practically, this means that Outlook 2003 stores these emails in a separate PST file, thus reducing the size of the cached Outlook.pst file used by Outlook. This will also reduce the email stored on the Exchange or third party email server.
The advantage of archiving your old emails is PST file size: smaller PST files are faster to load, and less prone to problems (like PST file corruption).
Archiving Old Emails in Outlook 2003
To manually archive your emails in Outlook 2003, go to File > Archive: the Archive dialog will open, and offer you a variety of options.
default, Outlook selects the current folder (and subfolders) for
archival (Archive this folder and all subfolders). To archive all
folders in Personal Folders, select Personal Folders instead.
Notice that Outlook says "Items", and not "Emails": this is because both email folders AND special folders' data will be included in the archive, such as Contacts, Appointments, Notes...
Picking a PST Archive Date Span
You can pick the date before which all emails must be archived, and optionally exclude email folders whose properties specifically exclude auto-archiving (see further down).
default, Outlook 2003 will choose the current date minus exactly three
months. To choose another date, click the drop down arrow to open
Outlook's date picker.
Saving Archived PST Files from Outlook 2003
Outlook also lets you choose where to save the archive (a PST file), and what to call it.
In Windows XP, Outlook 2003 will save the archive file under C:\Documents and Settings\ [yourUserName]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\, as "archive.pst".
In Windows Vista, Outlook will also save the archive as "archive.pst", but under C:\Users\ [yourUserName]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.
We recommend that you keep this default location and file name, mainly for two reasons:
everything, if you decide to change the default location and save your
PST archive somewhere else, click the Browse button, and navigate to the
folder you have in mind. To change the default archive.pst file name,
simply type a new name in the File name field.
AutoArchive in Outlook 2003
In order to maintain optimal performance, Outlook 2003 will regularly prompt you to to let it AutoArchive old emails. The larger your PST file, the more work Outlook requires for most operations; as a result, it makes sense to let Outlook auto-archive older emails to keep your PST file size reasonable.
Using "AutoArchive" in Outlook 2003
14 days by default, Outlook 2003 will display the AutoArchive old items
prompt; if you click No, Outlook will prompt you at a later time (next
time you exit Outlook 2003, usually).
During the AutoArchival process, Outlook 2003 uses its status bar (lower right corner of Outlook's main window) to display the AutoArchive stage (here archiving the deleted items folder).
Outlook's AutoArchive service will run until it has archived all your older items (emails, notes…) However, you can cancel the process at any time.
Canceling an in-Progress AutoArchive Process
Should you need to cancel the Outlook 2003's AutoArchive process before it completes, simply right-click on the Archiving [Folder Name] status bar message, and click Cancel Archiving. Canceling AutoArchive in mid-course will not "un-archive" your old items; it will resume next time from where it left off.
At this point, only a portion of your older items have been sent to an archive PST file. To complete the process, you can either wait for Outlook's next AutoArchive prompt, or manually resume the AutoArchiving process (how to manually archive your emails).
If you left Outlook 2003's AutoArchive run until completion, you should not have any item (emails, notes, etc.) older than 6 months, Outlook's default AutoArchive time span.
AutoArchive thus ensures that your "Outlook.pst" personal folder file remains relatively small in size, allowing Outlook to run more efficiently, start faster (since the PST file is loaded on startup), and less prone to potentially catastrophic file corruption problems.
Configuring AutoArchive Settings in Outlook 2003
time Outlook 2003 prompts you to AutoArchive your old items, you have
the option to configure AutoArchive by clicking AutoArchive Settings.
Outlook 2003 will launch the AutoArchive dialog, and temporarily suspend impending AutoArchiving until you confirm or cancel changes in settings.
first option determines how often Outlook 2003 should run the
AutoArchive process; the default is 14 days. Feel free to adjust the Run
AutoArchive every frequency.
AutoArchived Items Handling by Outlook 2003
The next options determine how Outlook 2003 will handle automatically archived items:
The default settings are shown above: although the options wording is confusing, old items will not be deleted. Automated deletion of old items (or not) is controlled by the radio button under Default folder settings for archiving: the default is to move old items to your archive.pst PST archive file. Automatic deletion of old items is available, but is surely not a recommended choice for most Outlook users.
The Apply these settings to all folders now button lets you override any custom folder settings with the ones you have configured for AutoArchive.