Outlook file size compaction and reliability

Posted on 2006-03-26
Last Modified: 2010-04-08
(1)First part of problem is file size - PST is about 1.8GB, I know 2 GB is the limit but don't think it reached there.  I saw there were HUGE amounts of data in deleted items so did a mixture of deleting them and archiving (not done before). This resulted in an archive file of about 1.7GB and main PST still about same size - i.e. archiving did not reduce pst size.  The mailbox cleanup routine had said 1.5GB in deleted, but now did not, yet not reflected in file size.  My fear is file is corrupted in some way, and needs a real spring clean.  I've tried the inbox cleanup utility....scanpst already.

(2) linked problem - recently lost outlook and had to revert to backup due to error - 'outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close' (making outlook totally unusable since error won't go away).  This was following a major bout of deleting items to clean it up.  Possible link to this, since it happened again after another deletion session.  SO, before deleting more, I want to clean up the guts of outlook.

(3) Possible 3rd linked problem - in the navigation pane, there are 3 versions of personal folders showing - each can be opened.  all seem to be duplicate views.... can we cut back to one?

(4) if it is not possible to clean up outlook very well, is it possible to export all data and start afresh with a new core ouitlook? (last resort)
Question by:timlangford
    LVL 18

    Expert Comment

    How to compact PST and OST files to eliminate deleted item space in Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003
    LVL 97

    Expert Comment

    Greetings, timlangford !

    I. Removing the emails does not reduce PST file size.  You have to compact the space to reduce the file size. In the link p912s posted, there is instructions on how to compact a PST file.

    1. On the File menu, click Data File Management.
    2. Click to select your Personal Folder, and then click Settings.
    3. On the General tab, click Compact Now.
    4. Click OK, and then click Close.

    II. Does the error message "Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close" still appear?  Outlook may be corrupt.

    1. Reset the Outlook toolbar template. With Outlook close, do a search for and rename outcmd.dat file. Restart Outlook and a fresh outcmd.dat file will be recreated.

    2. Register an important Outlook file. Go to Start > Run and type regsvr32 OLE32.DLL

    3. Disable Outlook Addins.  With Outlook close, do a search for and rename extend.dat file.

    4. Start Outlook in Safe Mode.  Go to Start > Run and type

    "c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Outlook.exe" /safe

    Your path to Outlook.exe may be a little different.

    5. Create a new Outlook profile.

    6. Repair Outlook. With Outlook open, go to Help > Detect and Repair.

    7. If no joy, reinstall Outlook.  Go to Add/Remove Programs and highlight Microsoft Office. Click on Install/Uninstall.  A menu will pop allowing you to choose repair or reinstall.

    III. The steps above should clean up Outlook.

    IV. Start a new profile as noted above will fix most problems.

    Best wishes!
    LVL 97

    Accepted Solution


    We have not heard from you. Did any comment help you solve your problem? Do you have any more question? If an Expert helped you, please accept his/her answer above with an excellent or good grade.

    Thanks, war1


    Author Comment

    1st - apologies for business, great answer and outlook is now just 250MB!

    Sorry war1, I was trying toi accept your answer which is good, but by accepting your process commemnt , I cant see now how to rate the answer good.  It's not excellent sionce I tried to follow the link on outlook-tips, and I'm pretty confident it is not accurate to my version of outlook
    Ok, I looked for 'new outlook data file' -I chose office outlook personal folders file, NOT outlook 97-2002, since I'm running on outlook 2003.   I found my old folder outlook pst.

    I went into the general properties tab and it says the format is 97-2002, so I dont trust to continue??????????

    step at a time...

    Once fixed, I'll get some more Q's for you!
    LVL 97

    Expert Comment


    You asked 4 questions.  Not sure what worked and what did not.  Since you gave me a C grade, I assume my help is no longer needed.  See post below.

    Outlook-tips works for Outlook 2002 and 2003.  In Outlook 2003, you probably imported your PST file from earlier version of Outlook, so the properties tab would say Outlook 97-2002.  If you want to use Outlook 2003 format PST, you need to create a new PST file, then drag the emails from the old PST file to new PST file.

    Here is how to create a new PST file and reduce the file size of existing PST file.
    LVL 97

    Expert Comment

    Tim, grading in Experts Exchange is not like grading is school.  C grade is considered an insult to expert unless you are giving points for effort.  See the Grading Guidelines:

    Grading at Experts Exchange is NOT like school. Here's what EE says: Although we use an A-D scale here at Experts Exchange, it works differently than, say, school grades. If one or more Experts' proposals are accepted as answers, they should usually be given an A or B grade, since they have taken the time to provide you with a working solution. If a possible solution is incomplete - ask for clarification or details before accepting the answer and grading it. People should not be given lower grades because of incorrect grammar or because you just accepted their answer or comment to close the question. Keep in mind, your question and any follow-up comments should be focused so that there can be a specific answer. The following is a good guideline to follow when grading:

            * A: The Expert(s) either provided you with a thorough answer or they provided you with a link to information that thoroughly answered your question. An "A" can also be given to any answer that you found informative or enlightening beyond the direct question that you asked.
            * B: The Expert(s) provided an acceptable solution, or a link to an acceptable solution, that you were able to use, although you may have needed a bit more information to complete the task.
            * C: Because Experts' reliability are often judged by their grading records, many Experts would like the opportunity to clarify if you have questions about their solutions. If you have given the Expert(s) ample time to respond to your clarification posts and you have responded to each of their posts providing requested information; or if the answers, after clarification, lack finality or do not completely address the issue presented, then a "C" grade is an option. You also have the option here of just asking Community Support to delete the question.

    Author Comment

    Thankyou war1, that is very helpful.  I can now create and delete outlook data files and profiles

    1) to confirm - creating a new profile is the way to clean an unstable outlook setup
    2) I don't need to use outlook 2003 PST, infact the default if I've come from earlier Outlook will be 97-2002.  Is there ANY advantage in creating an outlook 2003 PST and turning that into the default Outlook.pst by copying all the data into it?  (infact, is it possible at all?)

    Thankyou very much, I'm very sorry for mucking up the grading.  Is it possible to alter that by grading the whole thing now?

    Also - can you advise anyone that would understand MS Briefcase stuff?

    Thanks again, Tim

    Author Comment

    And - since making the changes, and rmeoving all sorts of small files from the Outlook folder, Outlook starts up MUCH more slowly - any ideas?
    LVL 97

    Expert Comment


    Glad you can access Outlook data now.  There is an advantage in using Outlook 2003 formatted PST.  The file size limit is much higher than that for Outlook 2002, ~20 GB vs 2 GB.  You can create a Outlook 2003 PST file and drag the emails from the Outlook 2002 PST to the new file. For best practice, you do not want to work with large files, as they are prong to corruption.

    Not sure why you are operating more slowly in the new profile. They should be equally fast.

    After you graded, the only ones who can change the grade is a Moderator.  You may want to post a 0-point note in Community Support board with a link to this page to reopen the question. Community Support board link is at the top right of any Experts Exchange web page.
    LVL 97

    Expert Comment

    Regarding your MS Briefcase question:  You would be better serve asking the question in the Windows XP topic.

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