How do I work with "offline" PST files WITHOUT an Exchange server?

Posted on 2005-05-11
Last Modified: 2012-06-22
We're running Microsoft Standard Server 2003. Our e-mail is hosted by a 3rd party and is POP3 (not IMAP or Exchange).
The MS Server 2003 is acting as our primary domain controller. All of our client PC's log on to the PDC and have their "My Documents" folder mapped to the server. The idea is to have one computer (the server) to back up and to allow anyone to pretty much go to *any* computer in the office, log in, and have all their documents available.

The problem: everyone is using Outlook as their e-mail program, including people with laptops. Outlook is saving to a .PST file on the local hard drive. As far as we can tell, you *can't* put the .PST file on a shared/offline drive (thus allowing it to be sync'd and backed up like all the other files in "My Documents").

But I found this:  the linked ms kbase seems to indicate that you can do it, just that they don't recommend it...but why?

Basically the whole idea is to have people be able to access all the files in "my documents" *and* most importantly, their Outlook stuff, even if the server/network is down and/or they're away from the office (laptop users). and/or, to allow people to go to ANY computer, log in as them, and have access to all their files and e-mail.

Currently we *do* have "my documents" set up that way. We're just running into problems with Outlook's .pst. Is there a way to make PST and/or the desktop folder into an offline file/folder or the equivalent? By the way, moving to an Exchange server is *not* an option at this time.
Question by:edjusted
    LVL 21

    Accepted Solution

    You could configure Windows Briefcase to sync the network PST file to the workstation hard drive.  Here is information on that:
    How To Use the Briefcase Feature in Windows XP (307885);EN-US;307885

    However, it is not possible to have Outlook use the network PST file when connected and the local one when not, in the same profile.  You would need to create a new profile on the laptop, called "offline" for example, which is configured to use the local PST file rather than the network one, and configure Outlook to prompt for the profile to use when starting.
    LVL 1

    Assisted Solution

    You can use a .pst file over the network, but the bigger it is, the slower it will run and the more likely it will get corrupted, thus not recommended.

    I used to keep all my users .pst files on the server so that i could back them up.  (Before exchange)  Really didn't have any problems, other then larger pst files ran a bit slower.

    Offline files will not sync a pst file along with some other types, so if you can't connect to the network share, you won't be able to get to the pst file.  (not sure about Briefcase feature, never used it)

    Author Comment

    We were trying to stay away from using briefcases.  what ended up being our solution was to keep the pst on the local drive and we downloaded an Outlook backup tool off the Microsoft site. You can set this tool to backup your pst file to any location at timed intervals (only days and only when you exit Outlook).  Thank you for your help, though.
    LVL 21

    Expert Comment

    Yeah, the automatic pst backup util is free for download from, and that's the the way most people do it, I think we were just trying to provide a solution which fit your parameters and that util didn't.  But glad you have it working like you want it to.

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