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Improve Microsoft Outlook Performance with These Archiving Tips

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If you’re a Microsoft Outlook user — and market share statistics indicate that at least 20% of you are — you probably know the feeling: the program freezes up every time you start it. Basic tasks like Send/ Receive or Sync This Folder often get jammed up. Depending on the number of messages in your account, sometimes a “Searching…” message will replace the emails you expect to be waiting in your email.

A number of things can cause such hiccups — but the most common culprit is an overly large mailbox. In most versions of Outlook, select File > Folder > Properties > Storage (or right-click any folder and select Properties) to get a feel for how much storage your inbox and associated folders are taking up. If the number comes as a surprise, consider email archiving.

Outlook has a built-in auto-archiving function that backs up things like your Deleted and Sent folders, along with expired tasks and calendar items. But say you receive hundreds of emails each day, or you subscribe to the “leave everything in my inbox so I can easily search for it method.” If that’s the case, and you surpass 2 GB of storage space, your Outlook operation could suffer. And since email serves as the lifeblood of most businesses, that can really set your productivity and efficiency back.

So what can you do to streamline Microsoft Outlook’s performance and make sure everything runs smoothly? Check out these tips below — and if they sound too confusing, consider consulting a trusted IT provider for assistance.


3 Ways to Use Archiving to Speed up Performance in Microsoft Outlook:

1. Work the Auto Archive system.
As mentioned above, Outlook automatically archives Deleted and Sent messages. But if you want to supercharge the email program’s automatic archiving, you can implement new Archiving Rules by clicking Tools > Rules > Exchange > + that apply strict criteria (say, archiving everything older than 120 days) to keep your inbox a lean, mean, well-oiled machine.

2. Free up storage space by manually archiving mail folders.
If Auto Archiving isn’t improving performance, consider setting up a manual archive (this is also a great function to understand in case you ever have to transfer email to another account or Exchange server). There are various ways to create these .pst (or Personal Folder Table) files, but the simplest is by right clicking the On My Computer heading at the bottom of your folder list, selecting New Folder, and naming that folder Archived Mail or something equally as recognizable. To copy emails into this new .pst file, simply drag and drop existing folders into the new .pst folder — or right click any folder in your Outlook list, click Copy Folder, then double click the new .pst file and click OK. Important: Verify that these old emails went into the new folder before you consider deleting ANYTHING from its original location in your online Exchange account.

3. Understand that this kind of archiving isn’t always enough.
Many businesses are required by industry or government regulations to store emails stretching back to a certain date. Some businesses need to maintain easy searchable access to emails for discovery and auditing purposes. And some businesses simply want to ensure that an outage doesn’t knock them offline or affect their reputation. That’s where third-party archiving services that are attractive or essential (or both) to business owners come in.


As with anything in the technology world, there are caveats to the tips above. If you access your mail via Outlook Web App, any emails archived on your local computer won’t show up there since archiving them means they’re no longer hosted on the Exchange server. And a .pst file or archived folder stored locally is still susceptible to data loss if it’s not included in your backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan.

Keeping your email secure and searchable is critical to business success, which is why we rely on CMIT RADAR (Rapid Archiving, Discovery, and Recovery) to give our clients the support they deserve.

Contact us today to learn more about how archiving and more advanced email tools can help you and your employees work faster and smarter.

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