What is Archiving in Microsoft Outlook?

Archive Outlook emails – a general term which is recommended by most of the Outlook experts in order to backup PST file data. Archiving in MS Outlook can be defined in several ways:

  • Archiving in Outlook is a way to backup or delete old items such as emails, contacts, appointments, calendars, tasks, journal entries, notes, documents, etc.
  • It is used to store unwanted data or older items that may not be required presently, but may be essential later.
  • It is a highly efficient way to reduce the size of the Outlook data PST file.

Ways of Archiving Feature in Outlook

There are mainly two ways of archiving in Outlook, which are known as manual Archive and AutoArchive.

Outlook Archive Feature – Archiving can be performed manually by following certain instructions. Outlook users can manually back up and archive Outlook items by moving such data into a separate PST file with a name of "archive.pst". In comparison to auto-archiving, this method is less preferable because in this method a user has to repeatedly follow same steps every time to backup their data.

Though AutoArchive sounds easier, still manual archiving is favored. The reason why manual archiving is preferred is that it allows flexibility and it also grants users to specify exactly the folders that are to be included in the archive folder.

Note: If it is wanted to archive only manually, AutoArchive must be turned off.

Auto Archiving Feature in Outlook – The other type of archiving provided in Outlook is "AutoArchiving" which creates backup of PST items automatically for Outlook users either by using the default settings and settings which has specified by Outlook user. Likewise manual archive, this function does not deal with any set of instructions to perform archiving and even does not ask the user to follow defined settings each time. Means, using auto-archiving can be a time saving program which isolates & backup data from current Outlook PST file of a stipulated date. Some advance properties within this function also give privilege to delete items after they cross they expiration time.

The Auto Archiving feature is a two-step process:

  • Firstly, AutoArchive feature needs to be turned on.
  • Secondly, user needs to set-up the properties of AutoArchive feature for each folder to be archived.

Are Archived Items Accessible?

Though, the archive folder is one which is rarely accessed as older items are stored there; archived items can be accessed at any time by opening the file and as such do not posses any kind of restriction. Unlike a traditional method to backup PST, in which a copy of Outlook items is made, regularly archived items are moved to a separate PST file.

The Archive command and feature does not appear for an account in the Outlook profile if an Exchange Server account is included and the organization uses Exchange Server Online Archive. The network administrator has the power to disable archiving feature.

How to Manually Archive Outlook Emails and Relevant Items?

To manual archive Outlook items, following steps should be followed:

  • Click "File" tab.
  • Click "Cleanup" Tools.
  • Click "Archive".

Check option 'Archive this folder and all subfolders' and then click the folder to be archived. Any subfolder of the folder that is selected is included in the manual archiving.

From the option 'Archive items older than', make sure about the date.


If users do not want to use the default file or location, then "Browse" option can be chosen to assign or save an archived file or at the user defined location in a machine. Simply choose the path and click on "Ok" to save the archive PST file.

Select "Include items with 'Do not Auto Archive' checked" check box to include any items that might be individually marked to be excluded from auto archiving.

Note: Select "Include items with 'Do not Auto Archive' checked" check box to include any items that might be individually marked to be excluded from auto archiving.

How to Turn Off Auto Archive Option?

If users want to archive the Outlook database using manual method, then AutoArchive should be turned off. Also, it should be known that by default the AutoArchive feature is turned off in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 201 and vice-versa in Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. Therefore, if you do not disable the AutoArchive feature in Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 and upgrade to Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, the AutoArchive feature remains enabled. The following steps need to be followed to turn off Auto Archive:

  • Click "File" tab.
  • Click "Options".
  • On the "Advanced" tab, click "Auto Archive Settings" under Auto Archive.
  • Clear the check box 'Run Auto Archive every n days'.

Archive Outlook Data PST File Locations

The location of the archive folder varies depending on the version of MS Windows OS on which Outlook is installed and configured and on which archive is created. The new archives created with Outlook 2010 are saved in the below mentioned locations:

Windows 7 and Windows Vista drive: \Users\user\Documents\Outlook Files\archive.pst

Windows XP drive: \Documents and Settings\user\Local Setting\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\archive.pst

If any computer previously had an earlier version of Outlook installed; archive Outlook Data PST files created by the earlier versions of Outlook are saved in the following locations:

Windows 7 and Windows Vista drive: \Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\archive.pst

Windows XP drive: \Documents and Settings\user\Local Setting\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\archive.pst