Outlook allows you to create Outlook Data Files (personal folders or .pst files) to give you additional storage capability.  You can create additional folders to help with managing your mail.  You may wish to organize your mail into folders for each project you are working on or all messages from your boss in one folder.  Personal folders can be used to save or archive e-mail that you no longer wish to keep on the server.  

The Personal Folders or .pst files can be stored locally on your hard drive or on a file server (e.g., your H: drive).  If you store them on your hard drive, you will need to make sure to back them up on a regular basis.   NOTE:  you must exit Outlook every night if you store your .pst files on the network drive (H: drive), otherwise, the files will not get backed up.  NOTE:  Microsoft does not support .pst files being stored on a network drive.

If you are moving to a new computer and your personal folders are stored locally, you will need to save them to a network drive or external storage device before you switch.

  1. Choose File | Account Settings | Account Settings | Data Files
  2. Click Add
  3. Choose the location to save your file on the "Save in" panel. This can be your local hard drive (C: drive) or a location on your network server (H: drive). The default location is C:\Documents and Settings\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. The default file name is: My Outlook Data File(1).pst
    NOTE: ITS recommends that you first create a folder outside of the default Outlook directory to save your .pst files (e.g., H:\Exchange or C:\Exchange). This is important to easily locate your .pst files and is especially important if you move to a new computer and need to move a Windows profile
    NOTE:  Microsoft does not support .pst files being stored on a network drive
  4. Click OK.
  5. Select the new .pst file then click Settings... to modify the Outlook Data File name or set the password.  
  6. Click OK. The .pst folder is now created. There are two default folders in your new .pst folder -- Deleted Items and Search Folders. You can now create new folders for storing mail.
  1. Right click on the .pst folder name and choose New Folder.
  2. Type the folder name and select the location (your .pst folder).
  3. Click OK.
    Once you have created folders for storing mail you can move messages to those folders. There are a couple of different ways to do this.
  1. Right click on the message you wish to move.
  2. Choose Move to Folder
  3. Select the folder name (.pst folder) and click OK.
  1. Choose File | Move to folder or click the Move to Folder icon
  2. Choose the folder name from the list of recently used folders or click Move to Folder
  3. Select the folder name (.pst folder) and click OK.

Additional Information

 When you delete items from a Personal Folders file, your file size will not decrease until you compact the file.

  1. Choose File | Account Settings | Account Settings  | Data Files
  2. Click the .pst file 
  3. Click Settings
  4. Click Compact Now.
  1. Right click on the .pst file name.
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Click the Advanced tab. 
  4. In the Name field, change the name of the .pst file. 
  5. Click OK to save the changes. 

If you already have personal folders and you want to find out where they are stored:

  1. Right click on the folder name. 
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. On the General tab, click on the Advanced button.
  4. The location of the personal folders is listed under the Filename field. 

NOTE: You must exit Outlook every night if you want your .pst files to backed up on the file server (e.g., your h: drive). 

NOTE:  Microsoft does not support storing personal folders on a network drive, they recommend storing on your harddrive.

There are several methods to choose from for backing up your PST files:

  1. A Microsoft utility called PST Backup that enables you to make an exact copy (in the same file format) of a .pst data file, copy the backup file to your hard drive or H: drive, and specify how often Outlook will prompt you to back up a file. You can then use the backup file to restore the current .pst file if needed. For more information on the PST Backup utility, see "Using the Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup Tool".
  2. Use Microsoft Windows backup utility. A backup wizard will prompt you for: which files to backup, where to back them up (e.g., H: drive, cd drive, etc.), and how often to back them up. Manually backup the files by copying the files to your H: drive or disk.

NOTE: ITS provides limited support for these methods.

You first need to create a rule to put a copy of the messages you send into the "Sent Items" folder in the .pst file.

  1. Choose Tools | Rules and Alerts.
  2. Click the New Rule button.
  3. Click Start Blank Rule.
  4. Click Check messages after sending and click Next.
  5. Check "through the specified account".
  6. Click "specified" and choose the account this rule applies to (e.g, Microsoft Exchange Server) and click OK.
  7. Check "Move a copy to the specified folder".
  8. Click "specified" and choose the folder to copy the messages (e.g, your Sent Mail folder in a .pst file) and click OK.
  9. Click Finish.

Next, you need to change your options so that a copy of the message is not saved in your "Sent Mail" folder on the Office 365 server.

  1. Choose Tools | Options | Email Options.
  2. Deselect "Save copies of messages in Sent Items folder".
  3. Click OK.
  4. Click OK on the client-rule message.
  5. Click OK.

If Outlook cannot open because the Personal Folder.pst file is damaged, and it says to run the Scanpst.exe tool after closing Outlook, then run the program according to these directions: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/272227

When the tool opens, copy the file path to the Personal Folder.pst file in the appropriate box and press start.  The program will run and then prompt you to to repair the file.  After the program is done, open Outlook to confirm that the repair was successful.

  1. In Outlook, choose File
  2. Choose Open & Export
  3. Choose Import/Export
  4. Choose Export to a file and choose Next 
  5. Choose Outlook Data File (.pst) and choose Next
  6. Select ‘All’ and select ‘include subfolders’  and choose Next
  7. Name the file and note the location
  8. Choose Finish
  1. In Outlook, choose File
  2. Choose Open & Export
  3. Choose Import/Export
  4. Choose Import from another program or file and choose Next
  5. Choose Outlook Data File (.pst) and choose Next
  6. Browse to find the 'File to import' and choose Next
  7. Select the 'folder to import from' and choose 'Include subfolders'
  8. Select Finish
Article number: 
Last updated: 
May 21, 2019