Those Dreaded PSTs: Your All-In-One Resource

As most Exchange administrators probably know by now, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 includes a built-in email archiving feature. Although this feature isn't as fully developed as the many third-party archiving solutions on the market, it's certainly a welcome addition for organizations that don't already have an email archive in place. And, perhaps more importantly, this appears to be a way that Microsoft is helping Exchange organizations break the tyrannical hold of those dreaded PSTs.

As John Savill wrote in an FAQ about the Exchange 2010 archiving feature, "The goal of this feature is to kill off local PST files, which are a nightmare to maintain and backup and are very difficult to search and manage from a compliance perspective." Yes, we all know the administrative headaches that PSTs bring, but they persist because they're so easy for Microsoft Office Outlook users to take advantage of to reduce their overall mailbox size.

Not everyone will move to Exchange 2010 or take advantage of the archiving feature even if they do, so dealing with the problems of PSTs isn't going away. For years, one of the most popular articles on WindowsITPro.com has been "Common .pst File Questions" by our former Outlook Tips & Techniques columnist, Sue Mosher. What many readers might not know is that Mosher went on to write several more articles, answering reader questions generated by this first one.

In the span of Mosher's articles, she touched on PST topics covering everything from Outlook 97 up to Outlook 2007. In case you missed any of these, here they are:

But wait—there's more! William Lefkovics, our current Outlook & Exchange Tips & Techniques author, has also addressed the problems of PSTs in some of his recent columns and in a feature article from Windows IT Pro

Judging by the comments and questions readers have posted to some of these articles, problems with PSTs are as common and varied as bugs in the garden. If you don't find your particular problem answered here, try asking it in our Exchange and Outlook forums. Or you can post a comment here, and we'll try to get one of our Exchange and Outlook experts to help you out.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Mar 6, 2010
I am looking for some help -- I archived a bunch of old emails to a .pst folder. I have tried retreiving them by going to the open outlook datafiles in outlook and I see the files displayed along with the file sizes, but when I click on the individual files, a dialogue box comes up showing the file as empty. How can I get the original email files back?

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