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Archiving Outlook Email


PST Data Files in Outlook 2003 (Personal Folder Files)

Outlook.pst: the default PST file in Outlook 2003Microsoft 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.

PST Files management in Outlook 2003Generally, you should see two entries:

The Personal Folders entry (selected), where all emails, contacts, notes, etc. are stored by Outlook. This is the PST file that loads every time you open Outlook 2003 (thus the importance of keeping it relatively small).

The second entry, Archive Folders, will be visible after you have archived Outlook items at least once, or allowed Outlook to perform its first AutoArchive process.

 

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

Outlook.pst: the default PST file in Outlook 2003You 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.

Archive dialog in Outlook 2003By 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.

If you spent time customizing email folders' properties (AutoArchive settings specifically), you can ask Outlook to follow folders' AutoArchive properties by clicking the Archive all folders according to their AutoArchive settings.

On the other hand, you can instruct Outlook 2003 to disregard folders' individual AutoArchive settings by checking the Include items with "Do not AutoArchive" checked checkbox.

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).

Setting an archive date in Outlook 2003By 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.

To archive all emails older than today's date, click the date picker's Today button. (Clicking today means archive emails "older than today" - in other words, received before today.)

To navigate in time to select another month, use the date picker's left- or right-pointing arrow. Notice that the day before which emails will be archived is highlighted; to pick another day, simply click a date in the selected month.

 

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:

  1. In Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista, the directories under your user name are not accessible to other users. This guarantees a certain security and privacy, (to the extent that your PC is set to use User Authentication and passwords).

  2. It makes it a lot easier for your System Administrator, IT-enlightened friend, or yourself, to troubleshoot any problem related to archiving, or to restore a PST archive.

Changing the default saving options for Arhive PST files in Outlook 2003Despite 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.

Alternatively, you can directly type a path and file name in the Archive file field.

 


AutoArchive in Outlook 2003

AutoArchiving old emails in Outlook 2003In 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

AutoArchive old items prompt in Outlook 2003Every 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).

If you click Yes, Outlook 2003 will immediately start the AutoArchiving process. AutoArchive can run in the background while you use Outlook - no need to close it or stop using it.

 

Outlook 2003 displays the AutoArchive statusDuring 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

Canceling an in-progress AutoArchive process in Outlook 2003Should 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).

AutoArchive Completed

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

AutoArchive old items prompt in Outlook 2003Any time Outlook 2003 prompts you to AutoArchive your old items, you have the option to configure AutoArchive by clicking AutoArchive Settings.

Any changes you make in Outlook 2003's AutoArchive settings will be reflected in the AutoArchiving process about to happen. Note that these settings are independent, but available when you archive manually.

Outlook 2003 will launch the AutoArchive dialog, and temporarily suspend impending AutoArchiving until you confirm or cancel changes in settings.

AutoArchive options settings dialog for Outlook 2003The 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.

AutoArchive frequency in Outlook 2003

Checked by default, the Prompt before AutoArchive runs checkbox guarantess that Outlook 2003 will display the AutoArchive prompt to get your confirmation before automatically archiving your old items.

AutoArchived Items Handling by Outlook 2003

The next options determine how Outlook 2003 will handle automatically archived items: Handing AutoArchived items options for Outlook 2003

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FYI

Archiving Email

Archiving Outlook Email


PST Data Files in Outlook 2003 (Personal Folder Files)

Outlook.pst: the default PST file in Outlook 2003Microsoft 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.

PST Files management in Outlook 2003Generally, you should see two entries:

The Personal Folders entry (selected), where all emails, contacts, notes, etc. are stored by Outlook. This is the PST file that loads every time you open Outlook 2003 (thus the importance of keeping it relatively small).

The second entry, Archive Folders, will be visible after you have archived Outlook items at least once, or allowed Outlook to perform its first AutoArchive process.

 

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

Outlook.pst: the default PST file in Outlook 2003You 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.

Archive dialog in Outlook 2003By 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.

If you spent time customizing email folders' properties (AutoArchive settings specifically), you can ask Outlook to follow folders' AutoArchive properties by clicking the Archive all folders according to their AutoArchive settings.

On the other hand, you can instruct Outlook 2003 to disregard folders' individual AutoArchive settings by checking the Include items with "Do not AutoArchive" checked checkbox.

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).

Setting an archive date in Outlook 2003By 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.

To archive all emails older than today's date, click the date picker's Today button. (Clicking today means archive emails "older than today" - in other words, received before today.)

To navigate in time to select another month, use the date picker's left- or right-pointing arrow. Notice that the day before which emails will be archived is highlighted; to pick another day, simply click a date in the selected month.

 

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:

  1. In Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista, the directories under your user name are not accessible to other users. This guarantees a certain security and privacy, (to the extent that your PC is set to use User Authentication and passwords).

  2. It makes it a lot easier for your System Administrator, IT-enlightened friend, or yourself, to troubleshoot any problem related to archiving, or to restore a PST archive.

Changing the default saving options for Arhive PST files in Outlook 2003Despite 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.

Alternatively, you can directly type a path and file name in the Archive file field.

 


AutoArchive in Outlook 2003

AutoArchiving old emails in Outlook 2003In 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

AutoArchive old items prompt in Outlook 2003Every 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).

If you click Yes, Outlook 2003 will immediately start the AutoArchiving process. AutoArchive can run in the background while you use Outlook - no need to close it or stop using it.

 

Outlook 2003 displays the AutoArchive statusDuring 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

Canceling an in-progress AutoArchive process in Outlook 2003Should 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).

AutoArchive Completed

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

AutoArchive old items prompt in Outlook 2003Any time Outlook 2003 prompts you to AutoArchive your old items, you have the option to configure AutoArchive by clicking AutoArchive Settings.

Any changes you make in Outlook 2003's AutoArchive settings will be reflected in the AutoArchiving process about to happen. Note that these settings are independent, but available when you archive manually.

Outlook 2003 will launch the AutoArchive dialog, and temporarily suspend impending AutoArchiving until you confirm or cancel changes in settings.

AutoArchive options settings dialog for Outlook 2003The 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.

AutoArchive frequency in Outlook 2003

Checked by default, the Prompt before AutoArchive runs checkbox guarantess that Outlook 2003 will display the AutoArchive prompt to get your confirmation before automatically archiving your old items.

AutoArchived Items Handling by Outlook 2003

The next options determine how Outlook 2003 will handle automatically archived items: Handing AutoArchived items options for Outlook 2003

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.