Outlook 2003/2007: How Do I Manage a Personal Folder? (PST file)

Outlook 2003/2007: How Do I Manage a Personal Folder? (PST file)

Create Outlook Personal Folders for the First Time

Personal Folders are Outlook folders that you can access from the folder list in Outlook. These folders are not stored on your email account on the server, and thus do not count against your account's quota limits. Often, they reside on your computer, as PST files, and can be copied or archived to a different location, such as CD-ROM/CD-R/W, USB thumb/flash/hard drives.

Storing messages in Personal Folders can help lessen your server account quota and enable you to better manage older mail. Please note that these folders are only accessible from wherever you store the Personal Folder (PST) files.

You can create a personal folder by clicking through File ? New ? Outlook Data File ? OK [give it a name] ? OK (twice). For an illustrated version of these instructions click on the Outlook version you have, Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2003/2007.

You will see Personal Folders on the left pane of the Outlook window, and you can now right click on messages or folder on your account to either copy or move them to your Personal Folders.

You can create sub folders, and can create filters to deliver messages directly to these Personal Folders upon their arrival.
Click here for information on how to create rules/filters.

Where is the Personal Folder File (PST) Stored?

In Outlook, you can find exactly where a personal folder (PST) file is stored by following the steps below.

Note: The images below reflect Outlook 2007, but the instructions also apply to Outlook 2003.


Step 1

Right-click on the Personal Folder icon & choose Properties for Personal Folders.

Step 2

The Personal Folder Properties window will appear. Click on the Advanced button:

You should then see the folder path under the Filename area of the Personal Folders advanced properties box.

Archiving or Storing Personal Folder (PST) files on CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, USB flash/thumb/hard drives, or network drives

There are two major considerations for archival or storage of PST files:

    ARCHIVE for Reference Without Regular Access

    If your need is to archive the PST file for keep or potentially later reference and not need access to it on a regular, daily basis, then you have the option to store the files on whichever location & media of your choice, including CD-ROM, CDR-W, DVD, USB drives or network drives.

    STORAGE with Regular Access

    If you need to store the file away from your account on the server (such as to help lessen quota usage), but still need regular access to those messages, then your storage options are only: local computer hard drive, network drive, USB flash/thumb/hard drives.


When Outlook access the PST (Personal Folder) files, the program needs to be able to write transaction and other information to the file (that you do not see).

If the file is stored on a CD-ROM, CDR-W, or DVD, these media do not provide writable access, or at least not reliable or easy writable access for Outlook while you attempt to access the files on them. They are convenient for archival for later reference, and you should copy the files back on a hard drive if and when access is needed.

When you store the PST file on a USB thumb/flash/hard drives, your computer or network drives, Outlook can readily write transaction information back and forth on those files, thus your access is unhindered.