Before I dive into archiving and what .pst files are, I’d like to start with a brief overview of how the UUA’s email system works. Everything in each person’s Inbox, Deleted Items, and other folders live on one of the UUA’s servers. Outlook (or Entourage for Mac users) connects to our server and grabs a copy of each email, calendar item, contact, etc. It also checks back periodically for any new email that may have been sent to your inbox. This means that there is a copy of your email on our server and on your computer that is always synced up.

While there are lots for great things about this (for example your email is always backed up), unfortunately this is also creates a problem. Our server has a limited amount of hard drive space and since there are quite a few folks we host email for, we quickly run out of that space. In order to make sure our server doesn’t run out of space (and stop being able to receive new email), we place limits on the amount of hard drive space each person can use. This means you eventually have to delete emails to stay under the limit. What if you don’t want to delete email?

This is where .pst files or email archives can help. A .pst file is a place to store email on your computer’s hard drive. The way that they can help you is this: Outlook makes a copy of the email in one of these archives and then tells the server it “deleted it”. As far as the server knows those emails have been deleted and no longer taking up space on its hard drive. Meanwhile Outlook on your computer knows the email is in the .pst file. It’s a compromise that means you can keep all your email and our server doesn’t get overwhelmed trying to store everyone’s email going back years.

Now that you have an idea of what an archive or .pst file is you might want to make one. We’ve got you covered! For instructions, click on your mail client below:


Entourage 2008                                               Outlook 2003

Note: The downside to archiving is that any email in your archive is no longer backed up on our server. If you’d like to back up your archive to your network drive, I recommend an add-on: Personal Folders Backup. You may also want to check out our Backup Your Email Archive article for instructions detailing how to set it up.

About the Author
James Curran