via the How-To Geek by Matthew Guay on
7/6/10


Most people know that Outlook stores your email in a PST file, but figuring
out where that file is located is a lot more tricky. Here’s how to figure out
where it is, and how you can move it to another drive to save space on your
primary drive.

What is a PST file?

If you’ve used Outlook for any length of time, you’ve likely heard of PST
files.  PST stands for personal storage table,
is the file format for the data files that Outlook uses to store all of your
Outlook data, including your emails, contacts, calendar, and more.  The
data may or may not be compressed and encrypted, depending on your settings.You
may notice that Outlook slows down as more data is stored in your PST file;
occasionally Outlook will offer to archive your old emails to help alleviate
this problem.

You may also notice files with an .ost extension in your Outlook data
folder.  OST files are the same format as PST, but are generally used as
offline storage of email whereas PST files are used for email archival. 
Thus, a standard POP3 or IMAP account’s emails may be stored in a PST file,
while emails synced from a Hotmail account with the Hotmail Connector may be
stored in a OST file.  Exchange accounts may use both an OST file for
offline access and a PST file for data backup.

Find Your PST File

You can quickly find your current PST file from Outlook.  In Outlook
2010, open the File menu and choose Account Settings.

image

Alternately, in Outlook 2007, click Account Settings from the
Tools menu.

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This will open the Account Settings window.  Click the Data
Files
tab to see your Outlook data files, including PST and OST
files.  If you have multiple accounts in Outlook, you may notice several
data files listed.  You can choose settings for each file, or click
Open File Location to open the Outlook data folder in Explorer.

image

Note that some data files, including ones from Hotmail accounts, may say that
they are not available.  However, if you browse to the Outlook data folder
listed below, you will still be able to find the files.

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Where Are my PST Files Saved?

By default, your PST files are stored in your User Data folder.  To
access this folder in Windows 7 or Vista, enter the following in the address bar
in Explorer or in the Run command:

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook\

Alternately, on Windows XP, enter the following:

%appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook\

As noted above, you can also open this folder from the Account Settings
window in Outlook.

Move Your PST File

If you’re running out of storage space on your primary drive or would like to
place your Outlook files in a more manageable location, you may want to move
where Outlook stores your data files.  By default, if you simply move your
Outlook data files to a new location, Outlook will automatically redownload your
emails to a new PST file.  All that would accomplish is make you have to
spend longer re-downloading your emails, as well as make it impossible to view
older, archived emails from Outlook.

Instead, you’ll first need to change a registry value to change where Outlook
stores its data files.  Exit Outlook, and then enter regedit in
the Start Menu search or Run command to open the registry editor.  Browse
to the correct key, depending on your version of Outlook:

Outlook 2010:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\

Outlook 2007:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\

Outlook 2003:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\

Now, right-click on the Outlook folder in the registry, select
New, and then click Expandable String Value.

image

Enter ForcePSTPath as the value’s name, then right-click it and
select Modify.

image

Enter the location to the folder where you wish to store your Outlook data
files, and then click Ok.

image

Now, move all of the contents of your Outlook data folder you opened above to
the new folder you specified, and then reopen Outlook.  Everything should
work as before, except now your Data files are stored where you want
them to be stored!

Conclusion

Whether you’re a professional with years of emails in Outlook or a personal
user that wants to backup their Gmail account offline, Outlook is a standard
tool of many of our daily lives.  Now you know a bit more about your
Outlook data files and what you can do with them.  With today’s massive
inbox sizes, your PST files can often be some of your larger personal data
files, but the above trick can help you store it where you want to make it
easier to manage.

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