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Outlook Archiving

You can set Outlook versions 2000 and above to automatically transfer old items to an archive file using Auto Archive. An item is considered old when it reaches an age that you specify. You can specify a different age for each folder in your mailbox. The archive file is stored on your local machine, network user folder or other location of your choice. When an item is archived, it is moved to the archive file and deleted from the folder in your mailbox thereby reducing your total mailbox size.

NOTE: If you access an item, the archive date will be changed to the date of access even though the creation/modified date remain the same. Therefore the item will not move to the archive folders until the NEW ACCESS DATE is included in the auto archive date range.

To use Auto Archive, you must do the following:  

  1. You must turn on Auto Archive.
  2. You must set the Auto Archive properties for each folder that you want archived.

Turn On Auto Archive:

  1. Click on Tools and select Options. Expand the menu if you do not see Options.

  2. Click the Other tab.

  3. Click the Auto Archive button. The Auto Archive dialog box will be displayed. Set your archive settings here.

  4. Check the box next to "Run Auto Archive every" and select the number of days.

  5. This item specifies how often Outlook will attempt to Auto Archive the items in you mailbox. The default setting is to try to run Auto Archive every 14 days. The option can be set to run from every day to every 60 days. Note, however, that Outlook will only run Auto Archive when it starts up. So, if you set the time to run to every 3 days, open Outlook and leave it open for a week without closing it, the Auto Archive will not be done during that week. You can, however, force an Auto Archive to occur. Forcing an Auto Archive is discussed later in this document. 

If the "Prompt before Auto Archive" item is checked, Outlook will give you the opportunity to cancel the Auto Archive before it is actually performed.

If the "Delete expired items when Auto Archiving" is checked, items will be moved to the Deleted Items folder instead of being archived. You will probably want to turn this item off.

Finally, you can specify the name and location of the archive file. By default, ARCHIVE.PST will be used. You should make a note of the directory path used since you will need this information if you ever need to recover items.

When you have finished setting the options, click the OK button. Then click the OK button of the Options dialog. Now you are ready to set the options for the folders you want to archive.

Setting Folder Auto Archive Properties:

By default, the following folders are set to be Auto Archived, assuming AutoArchiving is turned on:

  1. Calendar (items over 6 months old)
  2. Tasks (items over 6 months old)
  3. Journal (items over 6 months old)
  4. Sent Items (items over 2 months old)
  5. Deleted Items (items over 2 months old)

Auto Archive uses the date that the item was last modified to determine the age of the item. This date may be different from the date the item was created, received, or sent.  

To change or set the Auto Archive properties for a folder, do the following:

  1. Right click on the folder and select Properties.

  2. Click the Auto Archive tab.

  3. If the "Clean out items older than" option is not checked, check it to activate it. If this item is not checked, the folder will not be archived. You can specify the item age in days, weeks, or months by changing the value in the dropdown.

    Basically, this option means:  

    When the Auto Archive occurs, check this folder for any items that are older than the period specified. If there are any such items, archive them, and delete them from this folder. Note that this item does not specify when the items are archived; it specifies how old they must be to be archived when the Auto Archive actually occurs.

  4. Select what you want to happen when the Auto Archive occurs. If the "Move items to" option is checked, the items will be moved to the archive file. If you wish, you can specify a different archive file for each folder archived. By default, all folders are archived to the file specified in the Auto Archive dialog in Options. If the "Permanently delete old items" option is checked, the old items are not archived at all. They are simply deleted from the folder. They are not moved to the Deleted Items folder and cannot be recovered. 

  5. When you have set the options as you want them, click the OK button.

Different archive properties can be set for each subfolder independently. Therefore, it is possible to archive a subfolder without archiving the top-level folder that contains that subfolder.

Forcing An Archive To Occur:

You can force an archive to occur at any time. After you have completed setting the options for your folders, you should force an archive to make sure everything is working properly.

  1. Click on File and select Archive. The archive dialog is displayed.
  2. Click the option "Archive all folders according to their Auto Archive settings.
  3. Click the OK button. The progress of the Auto Archive will be displayed in the lower right corner of the Outlook window.

Archive by Drag and Drop Method:

  1. Click File, Open, Outlook Data File.
  2. Navigate to the desired archive file, select the file to open.
  3. Select the items in your mailbox folder(s) that you want to add to the archive.
  4. Drag the items from your mailbox folder to the archive folder Drop.

Accessing Archived Information

The best solution for working with archived items is to add the archive folders to your mailbox folder list. This will allow you to easily access the items even after they have been archived.

Or you can:

  1. Click File, Open, Outlook Data File.
  2. Navigate to the location of the Archive folder.
  3. Highlight it and click OK.

Please note that since the items are archived to a file on the hard drive of your computer or your network folder, you cannot access the archived items if you use Outlook on another computer or while accessing your mail through Outlook Web Access.