Converting local Outlook files for larger storage (20 gig) ability

I am having a problem with users outgrowing the data file size limit of their local Outlook .pst file of 2 gig. We do not use Exchange Server, just call to a POP3 account. With each upgrade in the Outlook client, I just transplanted the existing .pst file by hand into the new installations without issue. Many of these .pst files have been migrated from Outlook 2000 or earlier in some cases, and the users refuse to do housekeeping beyond sent items of more than three years old. All users are now at Outlook 2013.

My understanding is that there is a way to convert these ANSI formatted .pst  files to UNICODE, and that would allow the .pst file to be able to be as large as 20 gigs in size. What I don't understand is that there seems to be several ways to do this, both manually via Outlook or with a third party software tool of which there are many to choose from from freeware to professional.

Has anyone had to deal with this issue before with the oversized .pst files and expanding them to 20 gig capacities? This is one of the questions where there appear to be many solutions to "try" with no one definitive working solution. How have you done this without data (archive) losses inside a repeatable procedure?

Thank you.
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William FulksSystems Analyst & WebmasterCommented:
I feel your pain. Been there!

Here's some stuff from Microsoft on how to reduce the file sizes, but eventually they are just going to grow back if people aren't willing to do any kind of maintenance.

Another thing is that if their hard drive crashes, that file will be gone and they lose ALL their email.
If you want to be "sure" instead of the "try" solution, you have to rely on Outlook alone.
Therefore, create a new PST file (which already doesn't have the 2GB limit), and use a export function to duplicate both PST files. In the end, rename the old PST file to something else, and rename to new PST file to the original name. Outlook will start up exactly the same, but without the limit.
However, if your PC's are stuck in the previous century (you stuck with the FAT32 file system), this solution is a fake one, as the new PST will adhere to the file system limitations (still 2 GB). If you are using NTFS, then this is the solution to go for.
afrendAuthor Commented:
Pasted in below is what I think I need to do, but I'm not super clear on what the steps are. I had not considered 32 versus 64 bit either. In one case, the .pst file goes back to FAT32 Win 98 SE. When we migrated to NT 4, about the time I came in on this job, some of the NT4 desktops were actually FAT 16 rather than NTFS. I found that out when installing a failed ERP solution, and had to run the convert command line tool. Fast forward to today, all affected machines are now 64 bit. Here's is what looks like might work, but I'm not sure how this speaks to the 32/64 bit thing, if at all. This solution I found doesn't really speak to 2013 either, and I'm finding from the users that 2013 is a whole different application than 2000/2003/2007 where most of them migrated from, so I can only assume that under the hood, it is different as well.

To convert the ANSI formatted pst-file to UNICODE, you must do this manually to preserve the correct dates of the archived data. While the process is quite easy, it is tedious though, especially if you have a large pst-file and lots of folders directly below the root folder.
Note: Importing all the folders automatically (instead of manually moving folders) from the ANSI pst file to the new Unicode pst file will change the dates of the stored data, emails, etc. This may have legal ramifications for the user’s data.
1.      To be safe, make a backup of your pst-file that you want to convert first.
2.      Create a new pst-file by;
•      Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
File-> New-> Outlook Data File…
•      Outlook 2010
Home tab-> button New Items-> More Items-> Outlook Data File…
3.      When prompted (Outlook 2003 and 2007 only), select "Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst)" and press OK
4.      When using Outlook 2003 or 2007, a new dialog pops up where you can specify the display name, encryption settings (not recommended unless you have a very specific need to do so) and optionally set a password on the pst-file.
5.      Switch to the Folder List Navigation (CTRL+6). This will make it easier to also copy your Calendar, Contacts, Journal Tasks and Notes folders.
6.      Now move all the folders from the ANSI pst-file to the newly created UNICODE pst-file.
You can do this by drag & drop or right-click and move. This copy also copies all the subfolders.
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Almost correct. Use the Export function, that way you don't have to really make a backup (as the original PST is only used for reading). After the successful switch (between old and new) in Outlook, the old file is the backup file in itself. Only two files are now involved (old and new).
If you use the drag & drop, you need 3 files involved (the backup, the old file, which will be empty in the end, and the new file).
afrendAuthor Commented:
It's not dangerous, however, it's not related to this topic either (you are mixing warning rules with file format limitations).
Which equals to hacking a car computer to adjust how the fuel indicator reacts and warns you, when the original question was about how to get more fuel in the tank.
afrendAuthor Commented:
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

No possible resolution to this that works. Too many conflicting resources.
The resolution is sure to work, it's a built-in Outlook function. There's even no risk in trying as it's a copy (and not a move or delete operation).
As stated in my last post, you're now reading articles that's not related to the topic at hand. That doesn't mean there are conflicting resources, it just means you don't know what you're reading and how it relates to your problems.
With such an attitude, you will actually never get an "answer" from an expert at all, as you can get any random non-related article on the web, and then state it's not a resolution, and there are many conflicting resources.
afrendAuthor Commented:
Yes. I should have put more thought into my reason(s) for deleting the question.
Yes. I should have written a treatise with verbose details as I genuflect properly to experts.
Please forgive me and my "attitude."
Yes, I used the export function, yes I have created a new PST file in UNICODE format, and yes, when I import in the old PST exported data, it reverts back to ANSI format, and the new 20 gig limit is not maintained in the new file.
Most if not all of these PST files have origins on Win 9x systems that predate the NT file system.
They have gone through NT 4, 2000, XP, all NTFS as stated in the original question. Now, all are at Win 7 64 Pro 64 bit systems with Office 2013 32 bit local, (not 365) installations.

I will defer to the Administrator(s) for resolution of this question and distribution of points accordingly.
A newly created PST file that reverts back to its 2GB size limit? That sound very strange. What happens if you export it to a file that's already working (and over 2GB, if not available, fill it yourself with useless data). Will it stop importing? While the imported items disappear? While the file be the same size as before?
afrendAuthor Commented:
I run into this trouble all the time.
"That sound very strange."

I realize that most everyone here is an Expert. I am not one of them which is why I come here for help. I am experience and not book learned, therefore, *HORRORS,* I ADMIT to holes in my knowledge. If I was an Expert, I wouldn't need to PAY to have access here. Invariably, I wind up taking a spanking, one way or another for my less than "expert" status each time I ask a question. I realize that EE has adopted the social network persona now. Less than respectful discourse from behind the duck blind of a screen name. The joys of being unaccountably rude. I really have no pinterest in being linked in to another social network. It is what is now, so I run with it.

"d) If no Expert provided a solution or your question does not seem to be going anywhere, you may request deletion using the Delete Question link/button. "
That's exactly what I did.

I thought once a question went stale, the most correct thing was to remove it, but I see we have an objection procedure that has made that quite impossible. It appears if one person feels the question that I am responsible for is being deleted unjustly, they may object. May I object to the objection? I'll leave that as a rhetorical question. Questions can't be deleted unilaterally by the poser. So it appears.

I see many strange things in my workplace but since I live in a Windows 2000 Server domain controlled network with clients from 9x to Win 7 Pro, it's pretty common to see odd things. I have also done some things that I have been told were quite impossible to do as well, but many times, I find a way. I come here when I can't find a way.

This is about the time when somebody will chirp in and tell me how irresponsible it is to be running such a network in the first place. Agreed, but it's a small manufacturing company, and the name on the building isn't mine. Want to talk legacy ERP running on a P1 SCSI machine that has four drives not even in a RAID array with serial networking? Got one of those too. I got what I got to work with. I COULD also be loaded with software packages that have precious nothing to do with the manufacturing process here, as has been suggested by vendors many times, "But it looks good on your resume," but I'm an honest man who defers to the decisions of the man whose name is on the building and writes the checks. Right or wrong, in my less than expert opinion.

Having exhausted all possibilities before spending actual monies, (that is the professional world I live in), I come here. Have I found a solution? I *think* so. Here? Not hardly, but it would have been nice. Will I share it with others? Of course:

And now, the closing of the question and awarding of points, that is, if there are no objections...but I'll wait before awarding points because...objections.

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afrendAuthor Commented:
From the support people of this software:

"The UNICODE PST created by our tool do not have any size limit on it, it all depends on your MS outlook version if you have MS outlook 2003/2007/2010 it will have 20GB limit and for 2013 outlook it will be 50GB. Also there is no process to check the PST size limit of PST however there is workaround to test the size limit of 2GB, please open the UNICODE  PST in outlook and import any large data to that PST just to check whether it accepts more than 2GB PST."
afrendAuthor Commented:
The software worked whereas the Outlook native method did not.
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