Fat PST files - oh the pain (from 2016 article)

In 2016 I sent out a semi-regular email newsletter. This is a post from then that is still relevant today. I've reviewed, commented and updated it a bit. Enjoy groundhog day ;-)

Outlook is great until it's PST file explodes... [IMPORTANT UPDATE: Outlook isn't great.]

I used to live in Outlook.

I liked the calendar, keeping tasks and of course emailing with it. It would synchronize with my phone and all sorts of other natty things.

Then one day my PST was corrupted and thereafter I spent hours every week fixing it over and over again... until I decided this was nuts and got it out of my life completely.

You see, Outlook keeps everything, well nearly everything, in it's own data file e.g. Outlook.PST and/or OUTLOOK.OST - look for it on your computer and see how big yours is. [Your file name will be different. It will reflect the name of your email account - just look for <something>.pst or <something>.ost.]

This means that if you are a hoarder and your Outlook isn't set up properly, your PST file just gets bigger and bigger and bigger until it is TOO BIG and everything you do with Outlook takes forever...or crashes...or any number of other things.

NOTE: Even if you do set up Outlook "properly" with automatic archives and such, it will still eventually bite you in the arse.

NOTE: The analogy I use is that your Outlook PST file is like a giant load of gravel dumped on your front lawn. Once you have this problem everything you want to do about it takes forever. You have to move this pile around and try to get it where you want and in a useful form. The pain is unavoidable once the enormous dump has been done. That's your PST file.

My preferred solution was, and still is, just move to Google Apps [now G-Suite] and forever be rid of the Outlook scourge.

However, if you must use Outlook then here's something that may help you get past you massive Outlook.PST problem.

The quickest and best way to handle this is create a new Outlook profile, set up your email collection anew, disconnect the old PST file and extract all the contents to individual emails into appropriately named folders.

IMPORTANT: OST to PST conversion and extracting data is a whole other pile of pain.


Meet PST extractor, the Outlook PST life saver...


Once you've done that you can still use Outlook to view your emails exactly the way you used to BUT you find them in folders on your hard disk instead of locked up inside an unmanageable PST file.

IMPORTANT: I don't recommend this as a way to live. It just a get-out-of-jail card.

I have done this on a 19GB PST file and, while it took a lllooooonnnngggg time to process, it did eventually extract all the data and free my customer for their Outlook problems.


Most of these tools, and there are many, will offer you a trial and only perform a partial extraction before you pay for the full thing.

That's OK and the best strategy to see if your tool of choice will work.

Only pay with PAYPAL or a similar system that will protect you.

HOWEVER, lots of fraudulent tools like similar but do nasty things.

So make sure you check that you are using a genuine tool and not just a malicious piece of crap.

Check the product's web site through 3rd party web site verification, legitimate product reviews, trusted sources, Google to see if lots of people have had bad experiences with it and make sure your antivirus product is up to date before you download installer file.

AND listen to any warnings you antivirus product tells you. Don't use any file or web site it flags as "bad".

Good luck. Avoid Outlook dramas, run away now!! :-)


34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All