PST, Personal Storage Table, is a database file used in Microsoft Outlook that stores your account information including all mail, calendar, address book, username/password, notes and any reminders you have set up within Outlook. Your PST file is the heart of Microsoft Outlook. The PST file is part of each and every version of Microsoft Outlook. Without this file, Outlook would give an error and shut down.
Versions of PST Files
If you have Microsoft Office 2003 or later, your PST file is known as the unicode PST file. Early Office versions contained the first generation PST file which had a 2GB limit on file size. The unicoded file has a file size limit of 32TB. Second generation PST files contain more data, but Outlook performance can be hindered as the file size grows.
Location of PST File
The location of the PST file is within the "Documents and Settings" folder of your "C:\" drive under your Windows login account name. The path is: "C:\Documents and Settings\'Windows login account name'\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft." The PST file is named "Outlook.pst." The "Application" folder is "hidden"--to see "hidden" folders, you will have to set your file viewing options to show "Hidden files and folders."
Exporting, Importing--Backing Up the PST File
The PST file can be exported from within Microsoft Outlook to a folder on your system. This exported file serves as a backup in case of a system crash. If you need to restore the PST file, just import the file back into Outlook.
Recovery of PST Files With Commercial Programs
There are several programs on the market for recovering PST files that have become corrupt. Corrupted PST files can be caused by viruses, bad sectors corrupting files and hardware issues. One such program is Recovery Toolbox for Outlook. This program is designed for users who don't have a backup copy of their PST file.
Tips On Protecting Your PST File
Do export a copy of your PST file to a folder like "My Documents." You will find "Export" under "File" from the main menu toolbar. To prevent the PST file from becoming oversize, empty the deleted messages folder daily (including the "junk e-mail" folder), and save archived e-mails to a compact disc or DVD.
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