5 Steps to Archive Emails and Keep Outlook Running Strong

Ever notice that your Microsoft Outlook account has slowed to a crawl? Basic email functions like Send/Receive acting a little funny? Consider checking the size of your mailbox. You might be shocked to discover just how bloated it is.

For most versions of

Outlook, clicking on File > Folder > Properties > Storage — or right-clicking on any folder and selecting Properties — will display the total size not only of a chosen folder but also of any associated subfolders.

Outlook’s Auto Archive function is set to automatically back up Deleted Items, Sent Items, and expired tasks and calendar items. But if you get hundreds of messages per day and don’t delete them or move them from your Inbox, you run the risk of sabotaging your account. Exceed 2GB of storage in an overstuffed Inbox and Outlook really starts to run slow.

Yet solving the problem is doable. DiG recommends that you or your IT support team follow the five (5) steps outlined below to change Auto Archive’s settings.

1. Create a new local folder or .pst (Personal Folders) file to hold Archived Mail. Right click on the On My Computer heading at the bottom of your folder list and choose New Folder. Name the folder Archived Mail or something else that’s easily recognizable. In older versions of Outlook, you can select File>Archive and change the date under Archive items older than.

2. Create a new Archiving Rule. Click on Tools > Rules, select Exchange from the On My Computer section, and click the + near the bottom of the window. Name the rule something meaningful and recognizable, like “120 Days, Auto Archive.”

3. Define the time limit and destination for emails eligible for archiving. Under the When a new message arrives menu, change Date Received (we suggest 120-180 days) and then change Do the Following to a defined action like “Move Message + Archived Mail.” Click the check box for Enabled and click OK. In older versions of Outlook, clicking Tools>Options>Other>Auto Archive brings up a similar set of options.

4. Run the new rule on existing email folders. If you set a new rule that all emails over six months old will be archived, don’t let aging messages received before that rule was implemented continue to clog up your Inbox. Select the preferred mail folder, click Messages>Rules>180 Day, Auto Archive, and wait patiently while your email account reorganizes itself. Remember, you’ll have to perform this function on each desired folder; also, Outlook uses “Last Modified Date” to archive, not “Received Date.”

5. Want to access your archived emails? Simple — they’re waiting for you right on the left-hand column of folders — or under the list of .pst files on your computer — with all of your other mail folders. The key? They’re no longer taking up space in your mailbox.

Of course, archiving can’t cure all email diseases. If you access your mail via an Outlook Web App, any emails archived on your local computer won’t show up online — archiving them means they’re no longer hosted on the Exchange server. And a .pst file or archived folder stored on your local hard drive is still susceptible to disastrous data loss if it’s not backed up as part of your backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan.

Also, remember that Outlook is not a real email archiving solution — this QuickTip will simply help you free up storage space within the program, NOT keep your email secure via offsite backup or searchable across years of accumulated messages.

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