What is the Outlook Quota? Print

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The Outlook quota applies to the Outlook items such as message and attachments that are in your mailbox. It does not apply to any personal folders or archive folders (.pst files). 

Is a quota increase possible? 

Usually, mailbox management techniques are successful and Outlook quota increases are not necessary. Please implement all the mailbox management techniques before requesting a quota increase. In some special circumstances a quota increase is approved. 

What is taking up all that space?
In Outlook, in the Folder List, right-click on your Mailbox and click Properties. Click on the Folder Size button to view your current mailbox size. You can go through this same procedure on each sub folder or item to figure out where all of the space is being used,

The size is listed in kilobytes (KB). 1000 KB is 1 MB. Make a note of:

  • folders that you do not use
  • folders that seem exceptionally large
  • the size of your Deleted Items folder
  • the size of your Sent Items folder
  • the size of your Journal folder - it should be zero or very small

After noting folders to examine further, return to your Inbox.

Take Action

Solving the problem involves a combination of deleting files and moving files to other “information stores,” either personal folders or archive folders.

Delete Unneeded Items

  • If your Deleted Items folder was not empty, right click on your Deleted Items folder and select “Empty Deleted Items Folder.”
  • If your Journal folder was not zero, go to Tools > Options, then click the Journal button. Uncheck any checkboxes that are selected and click OK to turn the Journal off.  Select the Journal folder in your folder list and delete any entries. If there are many entries, select Edit, Select All, then delete the files.
  • Based on the notes taken during your folder size inspection, examine any large folders, or folders that are not currently in use:
    • Delete messages and folders that you no longer need by selecting them and clicking the Delete button on the toolbar.
    • Delete attachments that are no longer needed by right-clicking the attachment and choosing Remove. You can first save attachments to your local hard drive or a network drive by opening the message and choosing File, Save Attachments.
    • Click the Received column header to sort by Received Date. Check the oldest messages to see if they can be deleted.
  • Identify large files in your mailbox by choosing Tools, Advanced Find, then click the More Choices tab. In the Size box, select greater than 500 and click Find Now. Delete any non-essential items. You can also choose Tools, Mailbox Cleanup, select Find items larger than 250 kilobytes and click Find.
  • Empty the Deleted Items folder to remove the deleted items from your mailbox and your Outlook quota.

Move Items out of your Mailbox

After you delete unneeded files, you can move items to “personal folders” or “archive folders” where you can still access the information but the items do not count against your Outlook quota.

Types of Outlook Folders 
There are three major types of Outlook folders described below: Mailbox folders, Personal folders and Public folders.

Mailbox folders are folders within your Outlook mailbox used to organize your Outlook items. They can be accessed by you and by anyone to whom you give permission.

  • Mailbox folders count in your Outlook file space quota. These include your Inbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items and any folders you create
  • Mailbox folders are available to you whenever you open your mailbox, including when you use Outlook Web Access.

Personal Folders contain Outlook items but are stored on your local hard drive or on your network space, for example, on your P:\ drive. Personal folders are well suited to store data that you need to access from your office workstation but not from home or when you are traveling. They are excellent for long-term archival-type storage.

  • personal folder space does not count against your Outlook file space quota
  • personal folders are only available when you have access to the location where they are stored. They will not be available using Outlook Web Access or from your home computer.
  • personal folders can be added to and removed from your Outlook folder list so that items stored in them are readily available
  • personal folders can hold up to 2 Gb of data, although a maximum of about 500 Mb is advised
  • Outlook archive files are a type of personal folder created using the Outlook Archive feature
  • personal folders and archive folders end with a .pst file extension; search for *.pst to locate personal and archive folders

Creating a Personal Folder 

To move items from your Outlook mailbox into a personal folder, first create a personal folder:

  1. Go to Tools, E-mail Accounts
  2. Choose View or Change Existing E-mail accounts, then click Next.
  3. Choose New Outlook Data File. A personal folder file will be the only option. Click OK.
  4. Choose a location and name for the file then click OK.
  5. Click OK again to return to the E-mail accounts window
  6. Click Finish to return to the Inbox.

The new Personal Folder will be displayed in your folder list. You can move messages or folders from your Outlook space to your local hard drive or network drive simply by dragging them from the Information Viewer onto the folder. You can add to the Personal Folder at any time in the future.

The Outlook items in the Personal Folder are available to you only when the local drive or network drive is available to you. If you use Outlook from another computer or Outlook Web Access, items in a Personal Folder are not available.

Adding A Personal Folder to Your Folder List 
If your personal folder or archive folder does not appear in your folder list, it can be added in the same way it was created except that instead of typing in a name for the folder, you select the existing personal folder or archive folder. This will be necessary if you create a new Outlook profile or if you get a new computer. 
To locate personal folders and archive folders, search for files that end with .pst:

  1. Choose Start, then Search (Windows 2000/XP)
  2. Select for Files or Folders
  3. Specify the drive to search, i.e., C: or U: and click Search Now
  4. Make a note of the location, then use the instructions for Creating a Personal Folder (above) to add the folder to your Outlook Folder List.

Note: Be sure to backup your Personal Folders if they are not on a network drive. Copying to a CD or a zip disk is a good option.

Archiving Outlook Items 
Outlook's Archive feature moves groups of files based on the “modified date” from your Outlook Mailbox to an archive file on your local hard drive or network drive. This feature is designed for files which you do not use regularly but that you do not want to delete and may need in the future. It is an excellent way to clean up your Outlook mailbox at the end of a quarter or the end of a year. Some benefits of archiving include:

  • Contents of archive files do not count against your Outlook quota
  • You can add to the archive file
  • Your existing folder structure is maintained in your new archive file
  • Archive items can be available to you in Outlook if you add them to your Folder List
  • You can archive manually anytime you wish
  • You can set AutoArchive to archive automatically at timed intervals

Manual Archive 
To manually archive Outlook items:

  1. Choose File, Archive.
  2. Select Archive this folder and all subfolders.
  3. Select the folder or folders that you wish to archive.
  4. Use the Archive items older than box to select the Outlook items to archive.
  5. Set the file name and location, for example, My Documents\archive.pst
  6. Click OK to begin the archive process. You can add to the archive with subsequent archive commands.

Organize for Future Easy Maintenance

Add the Size field to your Inbox

Seeing the size of each message as it is received may help you to delete large messages or move them to a personal folder before you are over quota. You can also click the Size column to sort by size so that your largest messages are displayed together. To add a Size field to your Inbox:

  • With your Inbox active, right-click on any Inbox column heading.
  • Select Field Chooser.
  • Drag the Size field onto the Inbox column heading list

Empty Deleted Items Automatically

To make sure that your Deleted Items are emptied each time you exit Outlook:

  • Choose Tools, Options, then click the Other tab.
  • Verify that Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting is checked.

Recover deleted items or folders

To give you more confidence to delete items, it is good to know that Deleted Items can be recovered for several days. So, when in doubt, delete. To recover recently deleted items:

  • Click the Deleted Items folder to select it.
  • On the Tools menu, click Recover Deleted Items.
  • Select the item or folder you want to retrieve from those displayed, and then click Recover Selected Items. The item will be returned to your Deleted Items folder.

Use Rules to move files automatically

You can use rules to send messages to folders automatically. Sending routine messages, such as list serv messages, to a personal folder can minimize messages in your mailbox. To create a rule, choose Tools, Rules Wizard and follow the prompts. Rules to Personal Folders are client-only rules because you must be logged in with the personal folders available.

Use Personal Folders

Keep a personal folder listed in your folder list to make it easy to move files from your Outlook Mailbox to the personal folder. Follow the instructions above to add a personal folder to your folder list.

Archive Your Outlook Items

Archive your Outlook mailbox on a regular basis to move files from your Outlook mailbox to the archive folder. Use the File, Archive command to manually control over which folders are archived. Use the AutoArchive feature to automatically move files in specified folders to the archive folder.


The AutoArchive feature automatically moves or deletes items in specific folders whose Modify date is prior to the specified archive date. (The Modify date is not the same as the Received date that is displayed by default.) You can automatically archive individual folders, groups of folders, or all Outlook folders. The process runs automatically whenever you start Outlook. The AutoArchive properties of each folder are checked by date, and old items are moved to your archive file. Items in the Deleted Items folder are deleted. AutoArchive is a two-step process.

  • Configure AutoArchive by choosing Tools, Options, Other tab, and then click AutoArchive.
  • Set the AutoArchive properties for each folder that you want archived.

Some Outlook folders are set up with AutoArchive specified. These folders and their default aging periods are:

  • Calendar 6 months
  • Tasks: 6 months
  • Journal: 6 months
  • Sent Items: 2 months
  • Deleted Items: 2 months

Inbox, Notes, Contacts, and Drafts do not have AutoArchive activated automatically.

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