Outlook How To: Compact Outlook Data Files for Better Outlook 2010 Performance






Compact Outlook 2010 Data Files

You’re probably wondering, “What does it mean to compact Outlook data files (usually called Outlook PST and OST files), and why should I do it?” Here are the basics…

Your Outlook data can be stored in various locations. If you computer is connected to an Exchange server all the time, your data is likely stored on the server, and you don’t need to worry about any of this. Unless your system is set up to use an offline storage file (OST file) to hold data when you are not connected to Exchange.

In addition, your data can also be stored at all times on your computer instead of on an Exchange server. In that case, your data is stored in personal folders files (PST files) on your computer. So chances are good that you have data in one of these types of files on your computer.

So what happens to an Outlook data file when you delete an Outlook item? The item goes to Outlook’s Deleted Items folder. Since the item can be recovered from there, it makes sense that the item still takes up some space in the OST or PST file.

Now what happens when you empty the Deleted Items folder? From our point of view, the item is completely gone. It can’t be recovered using any normal means. And the item is deleted from the data file too.

But because of the way these files work, the space the item occupied is still unavailable for other uses. This means that, unless something happens, your Outlook 2010 data files will get bigger and bigger over time, even if you keep the same number of items in Outlook.

This is why you need to occasionally compact Outlook data files. Compacting Outlook data files reclaims the space that is unavailable because it was previously occupied by an item. This can greatly reduce the amount of space that the OST or PST file occupies on your hard drive, and helps Outlook function efficiently.

How Often Should I Compact Outlook 2010 Data Files?

There are no hard and fast rules for this. Unless you are having problems, such as Outlook running very slow, or are in desperate need of more disk space, I would suggest you compact PST files once or twice a year.

How to Compact Outlook 2010 Data Files

Follow these steps to compact Outlook 2010 PST files:

  1. Click the File tab on the Ribbon, then click Info in the menu on the left side of the window.
  2. Click Account Settings, then Account Settings again to open the “Account Settings” dialog box.
  3. Click the Data Files tab to display the “Data Files” page.
  4. Select the data file you want to compact (it’s file name should end in “.pst”).
  5. Click Settings to open the “Outlook Data File” dialog box for the PST file.
  6. Click the Compact Now button to compact the file. A “Compacting Now” box may appear on the screen while Outlook 2010 is compacting the file.
  7. Click OK to return to the “Data Files” page.
  8. Repeat the process for any other PST files you find.






Follow these steps to compact Outlook 2010 OST files:

  1. Click the File tab on the Ribbon, then click Info in the menu on the left side of the window.
  2. Click Account Settings, then Account Settings again to open the “Account Settings” dialog box.
  3. Click the Data Files tab to display the “Data Files” page.

  4. Select the data file you want to compact (it’s file name should end in “.ost”).

  5. Click Settings to open the “Microsoft Exchange” settings dialog box.

  6. Click the Advanced tab to display the “Advanced Settings” tabbed page.

  7. Click the Outlook Data File Settings button to open the “Outlook Data File Settings” dialog box.

  8. Click the Compact Now button to compact the file. A “Compacting Now” box may appear on the screen while Outlook 2010 is compacting the file.

  9. Click OK to return to the “Data Files” page.

That’s all it takes to compact Outlook 2010 data files.




From here you can:

Return to the Mail Tips page from this Compact Outlook 2010 Data Files page.

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