Let’s go over the nitty gritty of archiving your email. I do not expect every reader to understand everything I am discussing here, but I hope everyone can at least learn a little of how it works and the limitations of Outlook. If any of this configuration is “over your head”, give us a call and we can assist you with it.
First off, why would you want to archive? Outlook has some limitations. If you are on an exchange server, your mailbox size is most likely capped at 2GB. This is where you might say “Nope, I had mine set to unlimited, so this does not apply to me” and you would be partially correct. While it is not as important for you to archive, there is still overall caps. If your business is not using an Enterprise versions of Exchange, your business is capped at 16GB to 75GB depending on some configuration factors. A large number until you split it up between everyone in your business.
How do I set up Auto Archive? If you are a contract client of ours, chances are we have already set this up for you. Otherwise, in Outlook 2007 you click Tools, Options, Other, AutoArchive… I set mine fairly restrictive, you can set yours to whatever settings are best for you. The default is usually ok as well. Just make sure to change the “Move old items to:” field to somewhere on the network. And it must be a PST file (ending in .pst).
Why do I want the PST file on the network?
If it is store on your C: drive, what happens when your hard drive fails? (Notice I did not say if. All hard drives will fail, its a matter of when). You lose your PST file. What if this happens after 4 years? That is 4 years of emails you just lost. If the PST is stored on your network file server, it is backed up (you do back up your server right?), hopefully off site. On a side note, this is also why you should never keep important documents on your desktop. Keep them on your network drive(s).
So now that we understand what a PST file is (essentially a database that stores emails and other Outlook goodies) let’s discuss the limitations of PST files. They can not be more than 1.7GB in size. This is a soft cap, meaning it may work fine up until 1.9GB and then become corrupt with no forewarning to you. It may just start give you weird errors once it hits 1.7GB. The key is to not hit this soft cap so that there is no risk.
How do I tell how big my PST file is?
This is in Kilobytes (KB). So the soft cap size is 1,740,800KB.
In Outlook you can create multiple Archives (only one for Auto Archive). So if you are close to the cap or just want to prepare for the future, you can create additional archives. You can have almost as many of these files as you want. The maximum “Archive Folders” you can have in Outlook is an insane amount, I have read in the neighborhood of 500. I usually suggest people Archive by the year. So you can have a separate folder for 2007, 2008, 2009 etc. This usually works out great unless you go over the soft cap in a one year period. You can of course organize them however you see fit.
How do I set up multiple archives?
Click Tools, Options, Mail Setup, Data Files.
If you click Add… you can create more. When it asks the type, select “Office Outlook Personal Folders File” and click OK.
Select the folder where you wish to create the PST file (on the network remember). On the bottom for File Name: I usually put Archive2.pst but you can name it whatever you like here. Click OK.
On the next window is where you name it as it will show up in Outlook. So if you name it ‘2010’ you will have a folder on the left in Outlook called ‘2010’. I would not bother with the password unless it is stored in a general folder that everyone has access to. Click OK. That is it, close the next window and click OK on the next. You should now be back to Outlook and have your new Archive on the left. Unless you set up Auto Archiving to the new folder, you will have to manually organize things into it.
Like I said at the beginning, even if you do not understand most of what I just said, I hope you at least learned a little.