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Maintaining Outlook's
PST Data File

Finding the Location of the PST File
Finding the Size of the PST file
Ways to Reduce the Size of the PST file
Moving Mail to New PST files
Compacting the PST file

Outlook stores all it's information (e-mail, calendar, contacts etc.) in a single file.
This has the extension of .pst for Personal Store.

If not regularly maintained, this file can get fairly large. While the technical maximum size of a PST file is 2 Gigs, problems can occur well before then.

The follow steps are the basics for helping to keep file to a manageable and stable size.

To find the Location of the Outlook PST file.

This can be useful when you want to backup your PST file but don't know where it is. While you can try searching , the direct method is faster and more accurate.

1. In Outlook, make sure you are using the Folder View
2. Right click on Personal Folder at the top
3. Select Properties for Personal Folder
4. Click on the Advanced button
5. In the Filename: box will be the name and location of the PST file

To Find the Size of the Outlook File

1. In Outlook, make sure you are using the Folder View
2. Right click on Personal Folder at the top
3. Select Properties for Personal Folder
4. Select Folder Size
5. At the top you will see the total size of the PST file, in this case approximately 159 megs.
6. In the box you will see the size of individual folders
7. If the total size is getting fairly large you might look at what folders are using the most space and take steps to make them smaller.
8. Most times I like to see a single PST file somewhere around 500 megs. While this is much smaller than the maximum, I often see problems arise when it gets too much larger.

Ways to Reduce the Size of the PST file

The following are a few common ways to reduce the size of the PST file. Most often, these are the only steps needed to make a significant difference. After each one, you might note the new size of the file. Then remember to Compact the file when you are finished.

Emptying the Deleted Items.

This can be done either Manually or Automatically

1. Manual Method:
Even though unneeded mail is put into the Deleted Items folder, it normally stays there unless you empty it.
2. To empty the Delete Items, go to that folder, select all the mail (Ctrl-A), and press the Delete key
3. Automatic Method:
You can also have Outlook automatically empty the Deleted Items folder when Outlook is closed.
4.  Go to Tools / Options
5. Click on the Other tab at the top
6. Check Empty the Deleted Items folder on exiting button
7. If you want to be warned when doing this, click on the Advanced Options button
8. Check the Warn before permanently deleting items button

Deleting Unneeded Mail from the
In-Box and Sent Items Folders

1. It is fairly common to keep unneeded mail in both these folders. For example, there is a copy of every E-mail sent kept in the Sent Items folder. Often it is not necessary to keep years worth of these.
2. Normally both folders sort the mail in them by date.
3. Go to each folder, scroll to the bottom and delete old e-mail you no longer need.
4. When you are finished, empty the Deleted Items folder and compact the file

Deleting From Other Large Folders

1. When you looked at the folder size earlier, you saw the sizes of all the folders.
2. You can also look at what other ones may be fairly large and take similar steps to reduce the size.
3. For example, from the graphic above, I noticed that my Junk E-mail folder was fairly larger and deleted everything in it.
4. Again, when you are finished, empty the Deleted Items folder and compact the file

Moving Mail to New PST files

1. If the previous suggestions have still left you with a fairly large PST file, you might consider creating a new one and moving mail to that new file.
2. A common use would be, if you need to keep old e-mail. For example, you could create a new PST file named the date (2000-2002.pst) and move all e-mail from those dates to the new file
3. Not only will it help reduce the size, it will help better organize your e-mail.

Creating the new PST File

4. To create a new PST file the steps vary just a bit depending on the version of Outlook:
Outlook98/2000 - File / New / Personal Folder
OutlookXP/2003 - File / New / Outlook Data File
5. Select a Name and Location. For a name, I usually use something that make sense like the dates or clients.pst etc.
3. To customize the ToolBar, simply right click on it to add, remove, or rearrange items. You can also specify if you want the toolbar to be along the top or left panel.
4. Give it a label that also makes sense. This way it doesn't show up a just another Personal Folder. In the following example, it will display as 2000-2002.
5. Now when you go back to your Folder view in Outlook, you will see the new PST file listed with a + next to it.

Moving E-Mail to the New PST File

1. Right click on the new PST file
2. Select New Folder
3. Name the new e-mail folder something that makes sense. The default is to create a new Mail item so that usually does not need to be changed.
4. For example, I made a new PST file labeled 2000-2002. In that file I then created three folders, Year2000, Year 2001 and Year 2002
5. To follow with this same example, you could:
6. Go to your original e-mail file.
7. Select all the mail from the year 2000.
8. Right-click and drag to the Year 2000 folder.
9. I recommend selecting Copy rather than Move. The reason is that just in case something happens, and it has, you still have the original in place. After you know it is copied successfully, you can then delete the e-mail from the original file.
10. Organizing a new file by year is just one possibility. Other ways may be for Clients, Customers, etc. This is mostly to give you the basics to continue with what best suits your particular needs.
11. Again, compact the original e-mail when you are finished.

Compacting the PST file

1. The last step is to compact the PST file
2. Even though you have deleted or moved all the e-mail you want, and the folder size may show it has decreased, the actual file size can remain the same.
3. For this reason, the file needs to be compacted.
4. In Outlook, make sure you are using the Folder View
5. Right click on Personal Folder at the top
6. Select Properties for Personal Folder
7. Click on the Advanced button
8. Click on the Compact Now button
9. Depending on how much the file size has been reduced, this can take a while.

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