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Author Topic: Outlook & 2GB PST limit  (Read 12420 times)

lanux128

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Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« on: January 21, 2008, 07:27:10 PM »
i personally use Thunderbird but a friend who uses Outlook frequently encounters this problem of his INBOX getting to the 2GB limit after that all data is thrashed. i was thinking a solution via AHK but i'm not allowed install anything (the company he works is a bit paranoid). now i'd like to know is there a way where he can set an alert upon the mailbox reaching a certain size?

P.S. [rant]why doesn't Outlook have built-in checks for these situations?[/rant]

f0dder

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2008, 01:19:50 AM »
Hm, does outlook corrupt on 2GB boxes? Does this affect only outlook or OE as well? And is this an outlook problem, or does the company do something stupid like use the FAT filesystem instead of NTFS?
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Carol Haynes

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2008, 03:52:23 AM »
Outlook 2003 introduced a different format PST file that doesn't suffer from this problem.

Actually a 2Gb PST file is madness as, at best, it will reduce Outlook to a crawl. If the file is corrupted your friend could try using the Inbox Repair Tool (tell him to do a search for ScanPST.exe and then double click it - he then has to find the damaged PST file and click go - the damaged file is backed up before any changes in the same folder with a .BAK extension).

A simple answer is to set up the Archive function properly so that stuff older than a chosen amount is hived off to archived PST files. You can still add those archives to you profile so that the data is instantly available at any time (and loaded automatically when you open Outlook) but it will be faster and you can keep your archives at a sensible size so that everything zips along.

There is also a free addon for MS Outlook from the MS Office website which allows you to backup your current PST file automatically.

lanux128

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 07:46:35 AM »
A simple answer is to set up the Archive function properly so that stuff older than a chosen amount is hived off to archived PST files.

is there a how-to guide for doing this? also where is the PST file for the Inbox & what is it named as?

Hm, does outlook corrupt on 2GB boxes? Does this affect only outlook or OE as well? And is this an outlook problem, or does the company do something stupid like use the FAT filesystem instead of NTFS?

no, they use NTFS and there is a lot of PDF, DOC, PPT & XLS attachments pinged around co-workers.

Dirhael

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2008, 08:01:10 AM »
Microsoft did in no way fix this problem with Outlook 2003, and I would strongly suggest anyone to keep their PST/OST files well below 2GB. I struggled enough with this problem back when I used to work on the internal tech support in HP to know that this problem is way to common in *any* Outlook version (well I don't know about 2007 since that was after I left, but I doubt they've done much with it).

Besides, as Carol already mentioned, large PST files will most definitely slow down Outlook. Also, can you imagine the amount of emails lost should this single huge PST file be deleted or corrupted beyond repair?
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Carol Haynes

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2008, 08:14:24 AM »
Microsoft say they fixed it with the new 2003 and 2007 file formats (but I'm not sure they succeeded - and it seems to introduce new problems of its own) expanding the maximum file size to 20Gb.

The default location for the Outlook 'Inbox' data file is at:

C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

You can also find it by going to Control Panel > Mail and clicking on Data Files ... it will be listed as "Mail Delivery Location" and give the full path and file name of the PST file (which contains all the Outlook data including mail, tasks, calendar etc). It is usually called Outlook.PST.

It is fairly easy to move that file to somewhere more user friendly and easier to access by simply moving the file to where you want it. Next time Outlook is opened it will ask where the PST file is.

For archiving - it is all wizard driven (go to File > Archive ...). You can select a single folder to archive or the whole tree of folders. You can specify an archive file name and location. (It is also well documented in the Help file)

You can either use one rule to archive everything (eg. everything over 90 days) or you can archive each of your mail folders with their own specific rule. To set a specific rule right click on the folder and choose properties, you can then set Auto Archive properties.

You can also set this up to run automatically - see Tools > Options > Other ... \ Auto Archive (tab) to set the default options for auto archiving.

The archive file you create can be opened (if it isn't already) from File > Open Outlook Data File ... You will only need to do this once and then it will open automatically every time Outlook starts. To close the archive file right click on the top of the archive folder in the folder tree and select close. Note that the archive will probably have the same top name for the folder tree as your main data file tree - you can easily change that by right clicking on the folder tree root of the archive and choosing properties and editing the name to something meaningful).

You can use multiple archives if you want, and it is worth periodically starting a new archive so that the archives don't get too big either - eg. You could use archive names such as Archive 2001.PST, Archive 2002.PST etc. to sort all your mail into annual archives (just archive them sequentially starting with the oldest). If there is too much data to do that split them into smaller archives still (monthly periods / six month periods, whatever).

It is all a bit of a faff the first time you do it but once it is done the current year can be set to archive automatically and then you don't need to keep items in your main mailbox longer than you choose (I set mine to 90 days which is long enough for most purposes). If a calendar or task is inclomplete after the set period it will not be archived until it is complete (so eg. if you set a reminder on an email beyond the default archive period it will remain in the main inbox file until you say the reminder has been complete).

The only disadvantage of the archive set up is that the built in search functions of Outlook will only search in one PST file at a time (you just choose the actually file you want to search from a drop down) and it must be pre loaded into Outlook. Alternatively you could install a search engine such as X1 or use a mail manager plugin such as NEO to index you mail and then it is instantly searchable.

I have never used it but in Outlook 2003 (don't know about other versions) there is also a Mailbox Cleanup tool in the Tools menu.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 08:30:15 AM by Carol Haynes »

Dirhael

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2008, 08:27:27 AM »
Microsoft say they fixed it with the new 2003 file format (but I'm not sure they succeeded - and it seems to introduce new problems of its own).

Unfortunately, they didn't manage to fix it then and I doubt they'll ever be able to unless they rethink the storage format. In my opinion, storing everything in a single file like this is usually a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all cost. I just don't understand why they couldn't just store the emails as individual text files, or at least give you the option to. Sure you'd lose a little space due to cluster sizes etc., but with the average storage space people have available today I don't think anyone would really care, and the advantages more than outweigh this slight drawback.
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

lanux128

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2008, 08:44:05 AM »
thanks for the explanation but there is still something i'd like to clarify. his nature of job requires him to keep copies of email for some time before discarding and this contributes to the gigantic inboxes. he has to sort the mails and copy them into respective folders, so in this case how to set-up auto-archive? can my friend set-up rules for this then auto-archive? on a closer look, i've found the answer in your post. :up:

btw, if the default inbox is Outlook.pst, then are they the same as files named Personal Folders (1).pst?

Edit: reason mentioned above.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 08:49:15 AM by lanux128 »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2008, 11:09:06 AM »
You can call the file whatever you like - the name is Outlook.PST. If the file is called Personal Folders (1).PST it is because someone set it up that way.

Within Outlook the file is referred to as "Personal Folders" in the folders list - which is a bit confusing!

Darwin

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2008, 12:15:29 AM »
Different type of solution (and violates the "company is paranoid about software installs" comment), but there are a number of applications such as EZ-Detach and DetachPipe that can automatically save attachments to a location of the user's choice and insert a link to the new location. I use EZ-Detach and have tried DetachPipe (it's very nice) and they can both be configured six ways from Sunday. DetachPipe will even recognise instances where the same file is attached to more than one e-mail and save only one copy (while inserting links to it in all affected e-mails), further saving disk space. I've requested similar funcitonality for EZ-Detach and it is now on the developer's "to do" list.

The operation of these add-ons is seamless and DRASTICALLY reduces the size of a pst. Just a thought...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Darwin

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2008, 12:17:47 AM »
PS I gave up on X1 and other desktop indexers for Outlook files and went back to Lookout (upon which Windows Desktop Search is loosely based). Works like a charm. Installers are still, I think, floating around for the last full version, which is free to use.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

lanux128

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2008, 12:12:21 AM »
thanks for the links, Darwin.. i'll just pass them on with the hope they will come to their senses that Microsoft's products are not be-all end-all.

Curt

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2008, 06:12:58 AM »
,this tool helped me not once

hmmm...
@ zlatan24, did'nt you mean something like "helped me (not only once but) several times"?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2008, 07:58:36 AM by Curt »

40hz

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2008, 03:55:38 PM »
Microsoft say they fixed it with the new 2003 file format (but I'm not sure they succeeded - and it seems to introduce new problems of its own).

Unfortunately, they didn't manage to fix it then and I doubt they'll ever be able to unless they rethink the storage format. In my opinion, storing everything in a single file like this is usually a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all cost. I just don't understand why they couldn't just store the emails as individual text files, or at least give you the option to. Sure you'd lose a little space due to cluster sizes etc., but with the average storage space people have available today I don't think anyone would really care, and the advantages more than outweigh this slight drawback.

Unfortunately, using any e-mail application as a PIM or database is asking for trouble. Almost as dangerous as using spreadsheet application for a database.

It may help to remember (or learn) that Outlook is primarily designed to be the desktop front-end for Microsoft Exchange. Once you take a look at how Exchange works, Outlook's internals start to make a lot more sense.

The big problem is message attachments. Messages themselves are not very large byte-wise. But once you add on all the attachments (PDFs, jpegs, mp3s, etc.) they can balloon to phenomenal sizes. A couple of hundred messages with some healthy PDFs (or videos) attached can easily put a mailbox over the 2Gb limit. I've seen that happen more than once.

With an Exchange Server and IMAP, the whole PST filesize limit becomes moot. There are huge savings in corporate drive space since attachments are stored as a single instance and aren't replicated and stored to individual user folders or mailboxes. In an Exchange environment, message attachments are pointers which link to the actual single-instance file. This might not sound like such a big deal, but when you're attaching a 6Mb PDF (say something like a copy of the new company health benefit package) to an announcement going out to a list of 2000 employees, the space savings is huge.

So yes, there is a reason why MS does it the way they do.

But that's a small consolation when you're using Outlook as a standalone app. :wallbash:


Carol Haynes

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2008, 04:50:30 PM »
The 2Gb limit has been relaxed with the new format in Outlook 2007 - not that I am suggesting you should have anything like 2Gb PST files - but they are easy to archive, and with Windows Desktop Search integration it doesn't make sense not to archive in some manner.

As discussed elsewhere MailStore is a really good way to reduce the PST file and also remove Outlook dependence for the emails.

Clive

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2008, 09:41:33 PM »
Here's a link to a freeware attachment "stripper" like EZ Detach mentioned above
Quote
but there are a number of applications such as EZ-Detach and DetachPipe that can automatically save attachments to a location of the user's choice and insert a link to the new location.

http://www.kopf.com.br/outlook/

I have'n't trialled it yet as have only just discovered it.

Darwin

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2008, 09:03:08 AM »
Nice find, Clive - I'll have to check it out  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

40hz

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2008, 09:16:31 AM »
Here's a link to a freeware attachment "stripper" like EZ Detach mentioned above
Quote
but there are a number of applications such as EZ-Detach and DetachPipe that can automatically save attachments to a location of the user's choice and insert a link to the new location.

http://www.kopf.com.br/outlook/

I have'n't trialled it yet as have only just discovered it.

Very cool find! Gonna have to give that a checkout this weekend. :Thmbsup:

BigJim

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2008, 10:18:33 AM »
Experience reports ANXIOUSLY awaited on this one !! :tellme:
TruckerJim says "You can go down a hill too slow a thousand times. But too fast only once."

Clive

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2008, 04:50:36 PM »
Another solution posted here (http://ttrumble.com/...m-emails-in-outlook/ ) involves writing a macro. The blogger points out that even those fancy signatures that some people, himself included, add to their e-mails are attachments & also add to the burden.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2008, 03:11:58 PM »
With an Exchange Server and IMAP, the whole PST filesize limit becomes moot.
Not Exactly... With Outlook's cached mode default (handy for laptops etc.) you're only going from .pst to .ost which can also go poof for misc. reasons. I've seen them in the 3-4GB range many times.

40hz

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Re: Outlook & 2GB PST limit
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2008, 06:40:28 PM »
With an Exchange Server and IMAP, the whole PST filesize limit becomes moot.
Not Exactly... With Outlook's cached mode default (handy for laptops etc.) you're only going from .pst to .ost which can also go poof for misc. reasons. I've seen them in the 3-4GB range many times.

Good catch!  :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

I completely forgot about .ost files.

(Or maybe I was trying to forget them...)

Never underestimate the ability of an end-user to innocently hose their system by taking advantage of a "productivity feature." ;D

Maybe I should have said : "should be moot if allowed to be" ?