In Arrow-Tip #9 I discussed why you should archive your Microsoft Outlook mailbox. One of the reasons for archiving is to keep the size of your mailbox down to help enhance performance. However, if you continue to archive to the same set of archive folders, you will begin to see the same performance issues when accessing your archived items and possibly corruption issues in your archive folders. The solution is to break up your archive folders – in most cases I recommend quarterly archive folders and you can find instructions on how to do that in Arrow-Tip #9. However, what about your existing archive folders that may already be well over 300 KB (the maximum size I recommend for optimal performance) so this how to will show you how to break up your existing archive folders into quarterly archives.
Make sure that your Archive Folders are visible in your Outlook folder list (click here to see how). Determine what the oldest item in your archives is – the best place to make that determination is your Sent Items folder. Select the Sent Items folder in your Archive Folders set and then make sure it is sorted on the Sent field with oldest items first (to toggle between oldest items first and newest items first, click on the Sent column header). Determine what quarter the oldest item in your Sent Items folder belongs in e.g. if the Sent date is 7/1/2007 then the quarter is Q3 2007. For purposes of this How to we’ll call this quarter the “Oldest Quarter.”
You should now create a new .pst file for the Oldest Quarter set of quarterly archive folders (click here to see how to create .pst files). The naming convention you want to use is “Archive Folders YYYY QQ” where YYYY is the four digit year and QQ is the quarter e.g. the convention for the Oldest Quarter in our example is “Archive Folders 2007 Q3”. Using this naming convention will make it easy to quickly find your archive folder since it will force both your Windows and Outlook Folder List file system to list archive folders in chronological order.
Next you will need to move items in mass from your old Archive Folders to your new Oldest Quarter Archive Folders. The easiest way to do this for your larger folders such as your Sent Items, Calendar, Tasks and Journal folder is with table views and filters.
Let’s take the Sent Items folder first. First, create a new sub folder in the new quarterly archive folder that you created and name it “Sent Items”. Select the Sent Items folder in your old Archive Folders then right click anywhere on the column header row of the current view and select Customize Current View from the pop up menu. The Customize Current View window will now open – click the Filter button and the Filter window will open. Click on the Advanced tab – see screen print below.
Click the Field button and select Frequently Used Fields from the pop up menu and then Sent from the Frequently Used Fields pop up menu. You should now see the Sent field in the text box below the Field button. Select “between” in the Condition drop down box and then type the date range of the Oldest Quarter (July 1, 2007 and September 30, 2007 in the example). See the screen print above. Click the OK button on the Filter window and then the OK button on the Customize View window.
You should now only see items in the Sent Items table view for the Oldest Quarter. On the Outlook Edit menu select the “Select All” option. All items in the current view should now be selected. On the Outlook Edit menu select Move to Folder and the Move Items window will open. Select the new Sent Items folder that you just created in your new quarterly archive folder (see screen print for example below).
Click the OK button and Outlook will move all of the selected items from your old archive folders Sent Items folder to your new quarterly archive folders Sent Items folder. You can repeat this process for the Tasks and Journal folder, but make sure that the view you use to filter and select items in is filtered only for the date range of your quarter and not other fields such as “Completed” for Tasks. For the Calendar folder, you will want to use a table view such as Active Appointments.
The tricky folder is going to be your Inbox because if you are organizing your emails using sub-folders, there could be several that need to be checked for old items. Before going to the trouble of filtering each of these sub-folders, check to see if all the items contained in the sub folder fall within a quarter – in that case you can just move the entire folder to your quarterly archive folders by right clicking on it and selecting the Move Folder option.
Repeat this process for each quarter until you get to the most recent past quarter (e.g. the current most recent past quarter as of the date this How to is being posted is Q4 2007). If you have set up your AutoArchive function in Microsoft Outlook to archive quarterly then you are now caught up and should follow the procedure outlined in Arrow-Tip #9 Why Archive Your Microsoft Outlook Mailbox?
This process is manual for the most part and can therefore be somewhat painful, but in the long run you will find it is worth the effort since it will help protect the integrity of your historical data.
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