Outlook Could Be Losing Mail

Outlook Archive

Image Credit: Danny Sullivan

Did you know that not all versions of Microsoft Outlook were created equal, and that this inequality could be causing you to lose old emails?

Older versions of Outlook, particularly Outlook 97-2002, had a limit on the amount of data the Personal Storage Table (PST file) could hold. The PST is what controls how Outlook stores your information. In older versions of Outlook, the PST was built on ANSI, and could only hold up to 65,000 items per folder, with an overall PST size of 2 Gig.

In plain English, this means that older versions of Outlook would automatically over write old emails once the PST file became larger than 2 Gig, causing those emails to be permanently deleted.

Outlook 2003 fixed all this, by introducing what is known as Unicode PST, a file type that has no limit to the size of the PST or the number of items in each folder.

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However, Outlook 2003 and 2007 could still be impacted by ANSI PST, depending on how the software is setup. Additionally, newer versions of Outlook can get “stuck” in ANSI mode and overwrite emails despite being newer.

So how do you know if your Outlook is affected?

There are a few telltale signs. You may notice that your archived folders are now missing old emails. If your

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archives are too large, you may receive the message that your archive is at its maximum permissible size, yet you can’t delete old archived folders to reduce the size. Or you may get a message saying that you exceed the 2 Gig limit. These are just some of the common signs.

If this happens to you, know that you aren’t stuck. There are a few things that can be done to convert to the new Unicode PST file.

Update Outlook

If you’re running into this problem because you’re using an old version of Outlook it’s time to upgrade. Not only will you receive peace of mind knowing that your email is stored safely without the possibility of being overwritten, but you’ll also get your hands on some useful new tools and features. (The new versions of Office are loaded with great new tools that older versions never had before.)

Create a New PST

If you are running into this problem and you are using a newer version of Outlook, try creating a new data file, and then importing your items into the new file. Many users have reported this as a quick fix to their issue.

Take care when setting up your new PST file, to ensure you are selecting the proper format. Despite the change in file type, Microsoft will still let you create an old ANSI PST file, so pay attention when selecting which type of PST to setup.

Also, remember to backup any data prior to importing, just in

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Use 3rd Party Software

There are companies that have created software to solve this very problem. The software automatically converts your PST to the proper format, and also ensures your data isn’t corrupted in the process.

Please note however that software like this isn’t free. There are also mixed reports as to which software works best, although most users report success with SysInfoTools, which costs $39. (TechQuility does not endorse this product, and is merely providing it as information based upon forum user success stories. Your mileage may vary. TechQuility is not responsible for any data loss that may occur with the use of 3rd party conversion products.)

If you are concerned about Outlook losing your email, give us a call today. We can look at your settings to ensure that your email is running correctly, optimally, and is backed up properly, so that you never lose another email again.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help ensure your email is safe from harm. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Having Email Difficulties? Why Outlook Could be the Problem

Microsoft Outlook

Image Credit: Adria.Richards

When checking your email in Outlook, how does the program behave? Is it pretty responsive, downloading and serving your mail up promptly; or does it have major issues such as crashing, slowness, failing to load or the need to constantly index?

Overall, Outlook is a great program for serving up your email, but when there are problems, it’s easy to get frustrated and upset, especially when you know there’s an important email buried in there that needs to be answered quickly.

If the problem is a little glitch, like Outlook crashing every great once in a while upon opening but when reopened it functions fine, then you probably don’t need to worry. But when the problem is ongoing, it needs to be fixed before it becomes a larger issue.

So how can you easily fix these problems?

Check Your Version

First, determine what version of Office you are using. Most problems with Outlook and other Office products can occur when the software is outdated. If you are using Office 2003 or earlier, your software is out of date and is probably causing most of your Outlook quirkiness.

Consider upgrading

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your software to a more current version. This should not only fix any issues you are having, but will also ensure that your software is up to date and protected against security issues.

However, before you rush out and purchase the latest version of Office, you now have something else to decide – 32 bit or 64 bit?

What Bit Rate is your Software?

Modern versions of Office come in two flavors – 32 and 64 bit. But which one do you need?

When at all possible, try to run on the 64 bit version of Office. This tends to eliminate common problems because the 64 bit version is more equipped to handle larger inbox files (PST files) that often come with running a business.

If you are currently running on the 32 bit version and are experiencing issues, upgrading to the 64 bit version should fix your issues.

However, before you run out and upgrade, there are some important things you need to keep in mind. First, your computer must be capable of handling 64 bit software AND you must be running on 64 bit Windows already. If you are only on 32 bit Windows, you will NOT be able to load 64 bit software.

Additionally, you need to make sure that any plugins or software that accesses and interfaces with Office can handle the new 64 bit version. Most can, however make sure that you aren’t creating a larger problem with your other software by upgrading Office.

As long as you are in the clear with these things, upgrading to the 64 bit version of Office should solve most, if not all, of your Outlook issues.

By making sure that your Office software current both in version and bit rate, you not only eliminate your Outlook issues, but you also reduce your frustration and worry that is caused by not being able to access your email.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who enjoys helping people fix common technology issues, so they can go back to enjoying their computers. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Outlook Productivity Tip: How to Create Search Folders

Outlook Search Folders

Outlook Search Folders Menu

Do you feel like you often waste time just searching for emails in Outlook? Did you know that Microsoft understands this pain-point, and created a solution to help? They’re called Search Folders, and by using them, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate emails.

Search Folders are virtual folders that you setup in Outlook, which gives you all email items that match a certain pre-defined criteria. You will typically find them located at the bottom of your Folder List in Outlook, under the RSS feed. Just look for Search Folders in your Folder list.

There are probably a few Search Folders already setup, even if you aren’t using them. By default, Outlook comes with three Search Folders: Categorized Mail, Large Mail, and Unread Mail.

Categorized Mail – This Search Folder will display only those email items categorized by Color Category. In order for this predefined search to work, you will have to change the criteria to the Color Category you are using. To change the criteria, right click on the Categorized Mail folder, click on Customize This Search Folder, click the Criteria button, and define the colors you are using for categorization.

Large Mail – Includes all email items larger than 100 KB.

Unread Mail – Includes all email items that are marked as unread.

However, just because these are the default folders doesn’t mean you need to use them this way. Feel free to create your own folders with the criteria of your choosing.

To create new Search Folders, either: a) Right click Search Folders, and click on New Search Folder OR b) Click on Folder on the Ribbon at the top, and then click on New Search Folder.

The New Search Folder screen will appear. Microsoft has compiled a list of common uses for Search Folders. Select your use from the list. If nothing in the list matches your needs, scroll to the bottom and click on “Create a Custom Search Folder.” Input / verify your specific criteria, then click okay.

When the Search Folder is created, it automatically begins processing the request. Depending on the size of the search and your volume of email, it may take a moment or two to process.

That’s all it takes to setup Search Folders. Once setup correctly and in place, you should find that the amount of time it takes you to search your emails is greatly reduced. And, if you later find that you spend lots of time searching for something else, you can always setup another Search Folder.

What do you use Search Folders for? Leave us a comment telling us about it.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help you be more productive with your email and Outlook. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website:www.mybusinesswriter.com.