Microsoft Outlook is an email client (Mail User Agent to some) which I’m sure you know what it does. If not, let me try to explain it as simply as possible. Email clients are programs or application’s which retrieves emails from the web server and downloads it onto your desktop.
Now with that out of the way, did you know that you can lose your mails because of your email client? This is a big deal as email is now a large part of communication both in the corporate world and the private / home user.
How can you lose your emails?
When you use email clients, you risk losing your email just like any other data on your desktop. Here is a list:
- – Virus attack
- – Corrupted partitions / volumes
- – Deletion / Format
- – Hard Disk Crash
- – Theft / natural disaster
In Microsoft Outlook versions 2003, 2002, 98 and 97, once Outlook’s PST file size goes above 2gb, your emails, or rather, the PST file, gets corrupted.
- – PST corruption
Installation of anti-virus / anti-spyware
Prevention of viruses, spyware and basically all malware is important as they cause your system and programs to become sluggish, unstable and perform undesirable operations.
And since when you use Microsoft outlook, your emails will get affected as the mails on the server gets downloaded onto your computer.
- – Install anti-virus / anti-spyware and update frequently
Anti-virus / anti-spyware is available widely and should often be updated for the latest updates and patches.
Use it to scan you computer, and to scan ALL emails if they contain attachments.
Never download anything directly to your computer unless you are certain of the reliability and credibility of its source.
For a detailed view of how to remove viruses, refer to this article on removing viruses
The most reliable way to prevent the loss of your Outlook emails is to backup your PST file. To do this, simply copy your PST to another storage media (such as your thumb drive) or another drive on the same computer.
The PST file can be found by simply opening the search function (go to start menu and you can find the search function there) and copy and paste this term into the search box “.pst” without the double quotes.
Wait for the search finish. The default .pst file name is outlook.pst. Then just copy and paste the .pst file onto your backup media. Backup frequently, as you may never know when the outlook files (or any other important files for that matter) gets accidentally deleted, formatted or corrupted.
Although this should already part of your routine, it bears reminding again. You should maintain your system by defragmenting, running scandsk and so on. This is basic maintenance for your computer as it can help prevent file system problems. It also enables your system to run smoothly and prevent system slowdown.
Yes, even in outlook, you need to do some basic maintenance. This is done to prevent your .PST file from getting corrupted.
Before outlook 2003 (and in earlier versions of outlook 2003), the .PST file limit was set at 2GB. If the .PST file size exceeded this limit, it would be very difficult, if at all possible, to retrieve any data from the .PST file as it would get corrupted.
When you are doing housekeeping, you are trying to keep this limit down and at the same time, helps in organizing you mails so that they are easier to retrieve when you need to read them again.
How do you do that? Simple.
Delete all the old mails that you do not need, and remember to empty the trash. Categorise all your mails accordingly. For example, all your work folders should be in a separate folder from you personal emails and so on.
Create a NEW pst file
Another way to keep control of your PST file size is to create another .PST file. Of course, don’t create a new .PST file for the sake of creating one.
Have separate .PST files for business and personal mails. To create this a new .PST file, simply open outlook and follow these steps:
- 1.Go to File menu, to New, and then click Outlook Data File
- 2. In the next window, you should see two options. Simply choose Office Outlook Personal Folders file. In Outlook 2003, there is an option to increase compatibility with older outlook versions, choose the Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders File option. Click Ok
- 3. Then choose an appropriate location to save your new .PST in. Choose a location, and the type in the filename of your new .PST file.
And there you have it. A new .PST file, all ready for use.
In actual fact, prevention of lost Outlook mails is not hard. However, you need to be constantly maintaining your system and backing up your mails which take up precious time. It is a necessary step to take to prevent you from losing all your precious emails.