What to Do If Your Outlook Express Inbox Exceeds the Size Limit?


Microsoft Outlook Express is a popular email client used by many people. While it is effective at what it does, there is a size limit that can be a bit of a hassle. Outlook Express has a 2GB cap on files left in your inbox, and upon hitting this limit, your inbox may become corrupted. There are ways to fix it, however, so that you can access your inbox again and continue to use Outlook Express.

Reducing Inbox Size

  • Compacting your Outlook inbox can help with any corruption that you may experience. To compact your inbox, you will need to open it and make sure it is set to Work Offline, which is located in the File menu of your Outlook client. Select Outlook Express in the folders list, then close the menu. After doing this, click on the "File" menu again, the select "Folder," then click “Compact All Folders.” Let the client do its work, and don’t use your computer while the compacting is running.

    Sometimes, you may receive an error when doing this. If so, close Outlook and start over. If compacting the folders does nothing, move all of your messages out of the Inbox and put them in a different folder, then delete the DBX file for those messages. If the error is in another folder, delete the corresponding DBX file for that folder. This should fix the corruption you’re experiencing.

Shrink Oversized File

  • If you have been sent a file that is more than 2GB that winds up corrupting your inbox, you can try to shrink the file in order to gain access to your inbox again. To do this, you will need to download Microsoft’s free file PST2GB. Using this file, however, the file you have received will have a segment that cannot be recovered, so use with caution. Install the Microsoft file, then follow the instructions shown to reduce the file size.

    If you would rather use a different method, it is possible to reduce file sizes using a hex editor, but it may be more complex than most users need. Using a hex editor such as iHex, you will be able to load smaller parts of the file at a time, and therefore, gain access to your inbox again. You may lose data with this method as well, however.

Using Third-Party Software

  • Sometimes, the only way to get into your inbox to remove files and correct data corruption is to use third-party software. These third-party programs are designed to get into your inbox and fix whatever problem there might be, if it can’t be corrected with compacting or DBX file deletion. Most Outlook Express recovery programs are not free, so decide if you want to spend money on such a file. You can purchase a program such as Recovery Toolbox for Outlook Express, Advanced Outlook Repair or Outlook Recovery in order to repair your inbox.


  • There are a couple of Microsoft tools that can help prevent your folder from growing too large. If you have Windows XP, Service Pack 1 includes a tool that stops your inbox from receiving any more messages once your inbox reaches 1.82 GB. You can also prevent your inbox from becoming too large if you have Office 2000 Service Release 1 or 1a. This update, however, doesn’t give a warning when your inbox has become too large.

    Regular compacting of folders can help you not reach the 2GB limit. In addition, if you move files out of the inbox and into separate folders, this will also help. Preventing your inbox from becoming too large can prevent a huge headache from file corruption.

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