Outlook versions earlier to Outlook 2003 had a size limit of 2 GB for their PST files. This can create problems for users as there is no way of knowing if the PST file is approaching the limit and for many, problems arise even before reaching the 2 GB limit. However, simply upgrading to a newer version of Outlook may not solve the PST file size problem. Our article looks at how to use existing PST files with newer versions of Outlook.
Microsoft Outlook versions earlier to Outlook 2003 such as Outlook 97, 2002 have a size limit of 2 GB on the PST files used to store all the data. Considering that this file stores all the messages, contacts, tasks, appointments, notes, etc., it is not hard to imagine that 2GB will hardly be sufficient to store all the information. Further, if the user is not used to archiving all the data on a regular basis, the limit of 2GB may be reached fairly quickly. Outlook, in fact, does not even provide any warning to the user and only when various error messages start cropping up does the user realize that there may be problems with the PST file. Of course, one then has to carry out an Outlook recovery by trimming the PST file.
Many users complain about the 2 GB limit on PST files as they still work with older versions of Outlook and cannot easily replace PST files. One alternative is to use a new PST file once an older PST file reaches the 2 GB size; however, searching through multiple PST files for a piece of information is never easy and can be time consuming. Further, because of the size limit on the file, PST files start to show problems even before the file reaches the 2 GB limit causing extreme frustration to the users. Finally, it is never easy to take backups of several 2 GB PST files – all of which will be needed to carry out a successful Outlook recovery.
Another alternative that users find attractive is to simply upgrade to Outlook 2003 or newer versions. Since Outlook 2003 allows PST files to go up to 20GB, they are under the impression that they can continue using their existing PST files and adding data to it. However, it is important to note that simply upgrading to Outlook 2003 does not make it automatically possible to store new email messages or other Outlook items in a PST file created with an older version of Outlook. The most important reason is that new versions of Outlook use the native Unicode storage while versions older than Outlook 2003 do not. This makes it impossible to use older PST files that are in a different storage format with new versions of Outlook.
If you have upgraded to Outlook 2003 or newer versions, the best thing would be to create a new PST file in this version and then migrate all the old PST data into this file. This makes it possible to access the old data without any problem in the newer version of Outlook. It is possible that the old PST file is already corrupted as it has reached the 2 GB limit. You could then use the Outlook Crop Tool to reduce the size and then repair the file. Else you could use more advanced repair tools such as DataNumen Outlook Repair from DataNumen to carry out an Outlook recovery and restore all the data from the PST file. The biggest advantage of using DataNumen Outlook Repair is that it can recover data for damaged PST files in the Outlook 97-2002 format as well as for those in the Outlook 2003-2010 format.