Question: I’ve used Outlook on my home computer for years and have lots of messages because I don’t delete much. A friend recently told that this can cause problems with how Outlook functions. Should I delete my old messages?
Answer: Your friend is correct. There are some limitations with how much data Outlook can handle effectively. Too much data can result in slower performance, longer search times to find messages, or even program instability. For individual accounts (not connected to an Outlook Exchange email server) Outlook stores all of its data in a single data file by default (normally named Outlook.pst). This file stores all messages, message attachments, contacts, calendar items, and other Outlook data.
Maximum Amount of Data
Versions of Outlook prior to 2003 have a maximum PST file size of 2GB. Outlook 2003 & 2007 are configured to increase this maximum size to a mcuh larger size. When the Outlook data file gets close to its maximum size Outlook can become unstable and data may become corrupted.
An often overlooked housecleaning task within Outlook is emptying the Deleted Items folder. Most people probably don’t need to hang onto messages that they deleted back in 2003 for instance. To empty the Deleted Items folder: Click on “Tools” on the Menu Bar at the top of the screen, a list of options will appear, select “Empty Deleted Items Folder” from the list, a Dialog Box will pop up asking you to confirm the action, Click Yes.
Cleaning Up the Sent Items Folder
Another good housekeeping task is to clean out unnecessary data from the Sent Items folder. Generally Outlook is configured to save a copy of every email you send in the Sent Items folders. These saved messages also include copies of any attachments that were sent with the original message. Cleaning this folder up a couple times a year can potentially remove a lot of unneeded data, especially if you have a lot of large attachments saved with your messages.