Saturday, January 1, 2011

Safely storing PST files


By Joe Dolittle

Reader Nicola Simpson asks:

I run Outlook 2007. We are a small business and have several thousand emails that we must keep. I am only an end user of Outlook and do not have advanced knowledge.
I know there is a size limit on the size of PST files, which I am in danger of exceeding. I am creating a number of new PST files where I am archiving old emails, but despite extensive reading of help documents I cannot ascertain for certain whether it is each PST or archive file that must be kept within the size limit, or the overall size of data in Outlook.
I have been exploring the possibility of storing data files in a remote store (an external hard drive for example), from which I can retrieve if necessary. If I do this can I safely delete those data files from Outlook, in order to reduce its size?

Nicola's talking about the limits of PST files, which differ based on which version of Outlook created them. Older versions of Outlook maxed out at 2GB PST files, while newer versions max out at around 20GB.

Nicola, that limit is per file. If you have five modern PST files, each can be up to 20GB.

But the second question Nicola asks is probably the more important one. How can you archive PST files. You could certainly keep them on an external drive and mount them as needed. But that's definitely not a best practice.

Instead, we'd recommend you consider using an Exchange service provider, let them manage your PSTs, and also let them provide you with a serious enterprise-class archiving capability.

We've been using IT Solutions Now for a few years now and have been quite happy with them. They're both inexpensive and responsive (and no, they're not an advertiser -- we're just a satisfied customer). The company also offers an Exchange archiving plan for $45 a month. Not a bad idea to look into.

We've published a ton of PST-related articles. Make sure to check out our PST file article library.