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Relocate a .PST file

Why and how you need to do this.

When you upgrade software for one of your users, or replace a hard drive on a user's workstation, you first have to back up all necessary data. When you do that, make sure you don't forget the ever-popular .pst file. Some users may create this file to store their personal mail and contact information locally, and they can get very annoyed if this file isn't migrated.

When you back up the data, search for a .pst file on the hard drive, just so you won't forget it. If you find one, examine the date to verify the file's validity. If it looks old and out of date, then just as a precautionary measure copy the file onto some temporary storage in case the user requires it at a later date. Also check for any rules that the user might have enabled. If you don't recreate those rules, you can get into some trouble.

I would suggest that users create .pst files using common folder names ("email" is a good example), so that the folder can be easily identified.

Once you've found a valid .pst file, here's how you can move it.

Outlook 2000

First remove the personal folders option:

  • In Outlook click on tools then services
  • Highlight personal folders and select remove
  • Exit from outlook
  • Create a folder called email. Move the pst file from its current location to the email folder.
  • Open Outlook. Go to tools then services and add a personal folder pointing the location to the newly created folder.

Outlook 2002

  • Locate the existing .pst file.
  • Rename this file.
  • Copy the renamed file to a new folder called "email" on the hard drive.
  • Rename the file copied to the email folder to the original name.
  • When you start Outlook you will be informed that Outlook couldn't locate the existing .pst file.
  • When Outlook prompts for the missing .pst file, point to the file copied to the "email" folder by selecting File > Open > Outlook Data File.

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.


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