Outlook runs slow if I dont archive - What is the best archive method so I can get easily search all my old emails going back 5 years

With outlook express you seemed to be able to keep all your emails without archiving

With outlook 2003, outlook runs slowly unless I archive every 6 months, then I loose access to my old emails.

I backed up my .pst with different names, only to realise that I could have kept the same name and it just appends the backup file.
I used different .pst names until I realised this. But then I thought if i made the .pst too large Outlook could never load it because it tends to run slowly with only six months of emails let alone a restore of .pst of 5 years.
But never attempted a restore for fear of a crash.

The problem is that I would like to find and retreive an old emails from my archive files. Or I would like to be able to use a backup method where I could do this.

I guess what I want to ask is what is the best backing p/archive method so I can be able to search and retrieve and old email.

One I idea I thought of but not tried yet would be to have another root outlook dirctory other than Perssonal Folders. and save every six months and the folder the archive date range.
Would oulook then not run slowly because it has only six months loaded in the current folder the Personal Folders one which would be the latest one. I could then go to the other folders to search for the old email.

Any ideas, don't other people have this problem - what do they do?
Will split points as I guess they may be serveral solutioins to this.
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I would bet that when 2003 was installed, the exisitng pst files where left in the old format. (Might be why a large  pst runs slowly)

I currently have a 3.5gig pst file (I don't archive) and experience NO problems or slowdowns.

I would backup the .pst files, and Reinstall Outlook setting up a NEW pst file in the new format.
Then after everythiing thing is working correctly, use FILE - OPEN - OUTLOOK DATA FILE to attach one of the old pst files.

Manually move all messages from the old file to the new pst.file.
Detach and discard.
Repeat for all pst files.
Wait a day or two and then archive all items older than one day into one archive folder.
You can always dara the current stuff back from the archive folder to the ''current' folder.

May take a bit of time but it will be worth it in the long run.
jameshuntAuthor Commented:
So what I think I have learnt and therefore fully sorted me out with my problem is
1) I should not need to archive because outlook 2003 with the new format .pst file will not slow me down
2) the .pst file is not an archive file but is in fact the file that contains all the email/folder date
3) when we backup we are making a copy of the existing working .pst file and that .pst called backup so wen know it is not the working one.

Can you confirm this, and I will certainly action the above, thanks..James

1) As a .pst becomes larger, Outlook will slow down. That is the nature if the beast.  I currently do not see a problem and therefore have no need.  IMO, archiving is really a matter of personal preference.

2) A .pst file IS a the Outlook data store. An the Archive.pst would be the 'archived' data store.

3) Cant' truly confirm this as at work the .pst files are on the network backup and my home pst file backup is more of a 'direct copy' style.

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jameshuntAuthor Commented:
Thanks, great, - would be interested in the last point if you get the time.

Many thanks...James
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