Compacting an Outlook PST file ...

(refer to images below)

It seems that only occasionally when clicking on Compact (in Data File Maintenance/Settings) does a compact actually happen. When it does, it usually takes a few minutes, and the PST file size is reduced significantly.

However, most of the time when I first come into Data File Maintenance ... and click compact, it just goes through the motions, and nothing really happens ... taking only a second or two, and the PST file size does not change at all.

What am I missing here ?

thx.mx
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Compact does not "forever" compact and reduce a PST file. I run Compact each week when I file my inbox. It always works because it takes 5 minutes or so. But if I were to run it again right away, it would just appear to go throuugh the motions. So, unless you think something is wrong, the comppact operation is probably working fine.

.... Thinkpads_User
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
Right ... about 5 minutes. (btw this is OL 2003)

However, I have not done it for some time now (2-3 months - I have to remember).  So ... I just went in to do so, and got the 'quick' effect I described.  So, something must be up ...

I do backup often with ABS Outlook Backup 3, and then import that on to my other laptop (OL 2010) - to more or less keep in sync
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
Is there any way to Compact from the command line prompt (with Outlook closed), like you can Access ...?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
It may be reorganizing when syncing, so there may be nothing for Compact to do. I have not ever seen Compact fail, so perhaps keep track of when it works and does not (apparently). .... Thinkpads_User
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edster9999Commented:
The way compact works is to remove spaces in the pst file that are not being used....

or a better way to explain it is to say the PST file only grows in size.  When you recieve a new email if there is a big free space it will go into it, otherwise it adds onto the end and makes the file bigger.  As you delete or move emails of to another PST file, the space they took up is just marked as unused but just left there.  If you delete half ytour emails the PST will still be the same size until you compact it.

If you wait for 2-3 months and it does little or nothing to the file size then chances are you have not deleted anything - or you have received emails in this time that have filled any spaces you had.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Outlook has command line switches. I do not see Compact among them. Here is the list for Outlook 2010 (and there are lists for other versions).

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/command-line-switches-for-outlook-2010-HP010354956.aspx

... Thinkpads_User
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
Well ... 'syncing' is a misnomer, sorry.  There is no direct 'syncing' between systems.
Backup O2003, save PST to folder on O2010 system, Import.

I don't think ... ABS Outlook Back is compacting, because the backup only takes a couple of minutes max. But, I don't know that for sure ... and I always do a backup before running Compact.  I guess it would make sense ... for ABS to compact on the fly, and that could be what is going on. I will look into that.

But ... come to think of it, the ABS backup file is slightly larger than the PST, so it would not appear that any compacting is being done, but ..... it could be, and the larger file size could be some other overhead.

mx
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
@edster9999:
Yeah, pretty much the same thing that happens in a Access DB ... and how Compact works.
Also, I *do* delete stuff often, pretty daily - several times.

mx
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GillesTCommented:
The compaction in Outlook is like a defragmentation on the disk. The file will become smaller only if you have removed messages(en empty wastebasket).
The compaction time is very short if you run the compaction often, otherwise, if there are a lot of spaces to remove, it can take long time.
There is no way to start the compaction on command line.
If you need a corporate solution, there is some products that can automate the compaction, for example Pststation Corporate
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
@GillesT:
Yes, I quite familiar with compacting in having worked with Access database for 19+ years now.
As noted above, I delete emails in various folder frequently during the day (many that I get from EE).

No need for a corporate solution.  At the moment, I'm trying to determine if ABS backup is doing a Compact on the PST on the fly while backing up, although that doesn't seem to be the case.

mx
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
fyi ... still running some tests

mx
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DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Microsoft Access MVP)Database Architect / Systems AnalystAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the delay, but I wanted to be sure what was happening.  Apparently, I must have done a compact not that long before posting the Q.  In the last 3 weeks, I went through several cycles of deleting and compacting, which took varying amounts of time depending on how much was deleted.

Conclusion: There is no issue, an thinkpads_user's initial post pretty much described the situation.

thx.mx
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thank you, and I was happy to assist. .... Thinkpads_User
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