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After archiving about half the messages in Microsoft Outlook 2003, the main PST file has not changed in size. Isn't the point of archiving to keep the size of the PST file under control?

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2 Answers 2

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Try compacting it.

I believe the .pst format is a lot like databases in which removed records are "tombstoned" instead of physically deleted. This is done because it would slow things down a lot to rewrit the entire .pst file every time an email was deleted.

So the spaces where your archived email did exist in the old .pst are marked empty and will be used to hold new data, but those spaces weren't removed. Compacting removes the empty space.

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Very interesting...and totally makes sense. Will compact and report results. –  milkmood May 24 '11 at 14:34
    
The compacting definitely makes a difference. I couldn't let it finish because it's eating up processor power, but the file size is already reduced from 6.6GB to 5.1GB. I'm sure it has a long way to go. Will let it do that overnight. Thanks! –  milkmood May 24 '11 at 18:54
    
This would probably go faster if you create a new PST, and move files from one to the other in Outlook. Might be a pain for a folder structure. –  Mike Christiansen May 26 '11 at 1:09

Reduce the size of a Personal Folders file (.pst) If you delete items from a Personal Folders file (.pst), the file is automatically compacted in the background when you’re not using your computer and Outlook is running. If you want to immediately reduce the size of the file, you can force a compaction. The procedure to compact the data file might take several minutes.

On the File menu, click Data File Management. Click the data file that you want to compact, and then click Settings. Click Compact Now. NOTE You do not have to exit Outlook after you compact a .pst file.

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