A Microsoft Outlook .PST file can reside anywhere you want, and a removable USB drive is a perfectly legitimate location for it. Even though Microsoft doesn't recommend placing an Outlook .PST file on a network drive, because of the amount of network traffic that can be generated as a result, a locally mounted USB drive should be fine.
If you do decide to store Outlook email data in a .PST file on a USB drive, try to adhere to these best practices first:
- Make sure Outlook is shut down before dismounting the drive.
- Use a USB drive that's at least twice the size of the .PST file.
Microsoft Outlook tends to take several seconds to shut down completely. This is to ensure that everything has been closed properly within the application. It would be helpful to users if Microsoft Outlook provided a progress bar, or something similar, that could show the process of relinquishing control of the .PST file. In the absence of anything like that, however, you can wait 10 seconds and then check to see if OUTLOOK.EXE is still running in Task Manager. If it is, just wait until it vanishes and then dismount the USB drive.
Make sure you place the Outlook .PST file on a large
- enough drive to accommodate any future file size growth that the .PST may experience. If you have a 100 MB .PST file and you place it on a drive that's only 128 MB, for instance, you're likely to run out of room fairly soon, even if you have Outlook's AutoArchive feature enabled.
- Enable Microsoft Outlook's AutoArchive to keep .PST files small.
- Abide by corporate email compliance and retention policies.
Most importantly, confirm your organization's email compliance and records-retention policies regarding .PST files before saving any corporate email data to portable storage devices. Breaking a written corporate policy is sometimes justification for termination of employment.
It makes sense to have auto-archiving enabled so that the .PST file
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.
Do you have comments on this tip? Let us know.
Please let others know how useful this tip was via the rating scale below. Do you know a helpful Exchange Server, Microsoft Outlook or SharePoint tip, timesaver or workaround? Email the editors to talk about writing for SearchExchange.com.
This was first published in December 2007