Friday, November 1, 2002

What not to do when sharing email files on a network


By David Gewirtz

A reader asks: "I have three computers in my office that are networked together. I would like to access my Outlook mail from each of the computers. Can I place the .PST [the Outlook data file] file on a networked drive (i.e., F drive) and then use that as my default mail from each of the systems? I do not need multiple access to the file, but if I did is that possible?"

Uh, this would be bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. As in, well, bad.

ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TRY TO SHARE YOUR PST FILES. Doing so would potentially cause you all sorts of problems. A much better way is to use IMAP or Exchange (a lot more work, for just three machines), or a mail server (such as the VisNetic MailServer from this week's sponsor, that provides email access.

Files that end with .PST are pretty fragile to begin with and if you did try to share your Outlook .PST file over a network, your life would degenerate into hell far too fast for you to measure. And that, to quote a Zen Master who once kicked me out of a class, would "just be plain unfun."

David Gewirtz is the Editor-in-Chief of all the ZATZ publications and has been heading up the network rebuild project. As a result, his sanity (never a really secure element of his psyche) is now degenerating at a rapid pace. If you have hot food or coffee (and you're brave enough to write to someone who's spent no less that 25 hours on the phone with the phone company in the past week), feel free to write him at