Ask the Expert

Disabling the use of .PST files in Outlook 2003

We use Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003. Is there a way to prevent users from using personal folders with Outlook 2003?

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Sue Mosher, Microsoft Outlook MVP, provides a registry key that you can use to disable the use of .PST files. Create or modify the following DWORD registry value:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\DisablePST. Set the value to 1 to disable .PST files, or 0 (default) to enable them.

Note that .PST files that are already in a user's email profile will still be able to function. Therefore, you should manually remove all .PST files from the profile prior to setting this value. This also includes disabling the auto-archiving feature, which takes advantage of .PST files.

Sue's article can be found here.


Your advice on how to disable .PST files in Microsoft Outlook 2003 prevents new .PST files from being created with the "File -> New -> Outlook Data File" method, but I believe you can still create them with the "Tools -> Email Accounts -> New Outlook Data File" method. Is there a way to turn this off, as well?"
—Gerald B.


One possible solution is to install the Outlook group policy template, and then configure the option to disable end-user access to "Tools > Email Accounts." See the screenshot below for a sample.

—Brad Dinerman, Clients and Mobility expert

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from

  • Learning Center: A primer on Exchange .PST files
  • Expert Advice: How to hide users' .PST files
  • Expert Advice: Access .PST files through Outlook Web Access
  • Reference Center: .PST tips and resources
  • Reference Center: Microsoft Outlook tips and resources
  • This was first published in May 2006

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