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Nitty-Gritty of Microsoft Outlook PST File Compaction

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  Outlook_Lab's Photo
Posted Mar 12 2014 07:34 PM

Microsoft Outlook PST file has always been a topic of discussion for professionals. Where on one side, the file turns out to be the best companion of Outlook by storing all the data, on the other side, it carries some drawbacks. The greatest hitch is the size limit of the file that troubles all users who use Outlook in their daily lives. Look at the following before any in-depth analysis:

  • “Outlook 2002 and its earlier versions offer PST of 2 GB
  • Outlook 2003 & Outlook 2007 offer PST of 20 GB
  • Outlook 2010 & Outlook 2013 offer PST of 50 GB”


Microsoft always puts users first and hence has made a high increment in PST file size limit in latest versions of Outlook. However, do you think that an individual Outlook user account in an organization would not reach 50 GB? Of course, it will. It means that a PST with 50 GB capacity may also be filled and when the data reaches or goes beyond the prescribed limit, the file gets corrupt immediately and hence leads to data loss. Therefore, it is always better to adopt some important and effective precautionary measures before such conditions occur. Have you ever thought over managing the size of your Outlook PST file? Yes, it is possible, let us see how.

Generally, when you see your Inbox filled with many irrelevant or unwanted data items, you just delete these items. Next, you also remove items from 'Deleted Items' folder. However, the PST file still remains of the same size because when you remove items from mailbox, the space taken by them cannot be reclaimed until and unless you compact the PST file. Compacting a PST simply removes free space and hence reduces the file size. Once the file is reduced, it is now protected against corruption due to its size. Note that there may be various other reasons of PST corruption, such as virus infections, Outlook termination, dirty system shutdown, etc.

Before you compact a PST, make sure that your PST is equal to or larger than 16 KB and there is 16 KB free space since when the file was last compacted. Also, know that the process removes either 4% of the file size or 16 KB free space.

Compacting a PST is not an arduous task and can be done as follows:

  • In the menu, click 'File', and then click on 'Data File Management'.
  • Select your Personal Folder and click on 'Settings'.
  • Switch to the 'General' tab and click on 'Compact Now'.
  • Click 'OK', and then click 'Close'.


However, the method is a bit different in MS Outlook 2010. Do the following if you are running Outlook 2010:
  • On the Ribbon, click 'File' tab.
  • Click 'Info' in the menu.
  • Click 'Account Settings' tab, and then click on 'Account Settings'.
  • Click 'Data Files' tab.
  • Select 'Personal' folder and click 'Settings'.
  • Go to the 'General' tab and click on 'Compact Now'.
  • Click 'OK'.
  • Click 'Close'.


You are now done. If you do not find the process effective, the better alternative is a third party program to compact PST file.

1 Reply

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  peterson1's Photo
Posted Mar 20 2014 03:10 AM

To manage the size of your Outlook PST file, please follow below suggestions:

1. First you should manage your mailbox by using Mailbox Cleanup tool. With the help of this tool, you can archive your older items and can also empty your Deleted Items folder.
2. You can use ‘Compact Now’ option to reduce the size of an Outlook PST data file.
3. You can also use third party online tools to compact your oversized pst file. For more information about these tools, please search in Google: http://lmgtfy.com/?q...ct+pst+software