Moving your .ost file with Outlook 2003

Anyone that has read my blog before will know that I recently switched to Ubuntu as my primary OS however what I haven’t mentioned is that I also have a Windows XP virtual machine running for the sole purpose of running Outlook for my work email.

When I set up the virtual machine I was a bit too tight on the amount of space I gave to the primary hard disk image and have very quickly go to the point where Windows is complaining of a lack of space on drive C:

Firstly I moved the swap file to another virtual hard disk which solved the problem for a time but not for long. So I did some searching for files that were taking up space and found my Outlook offline cache file (outlook.ost) was fairly sizable so I wanted to move that too to the other virtual hard disk I’d set up, moving a file should be a straightforward task right? not if Microsoft has anything to do with it. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow in order to move your outlook.ost file.

  1. Close Outlook
  2. Move (or copy and delete the original at the end if you’re paranoid like me) the outlook.ost file from it’s current location (usually c:\documents and settings\{user}\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\outlook.ost) to a new location
  3. Open the mail settings applet either from the control panel or by right clicking on your Outlook link and selecting properties.
  4. Click E-mail Accounts…
  5. View or change and existing account and click next
  6. Highlight your exchange email account and click Change…
  7. Click More settings…
  8. Uncheck the Use Cached Exchange Mode and click apply
  9. Click Offline Folder File Settings…
  10. Click Disable Offline Use and agree with the pop up dialog message.
  11. This will close the Offline Folder File Settings dialog so click the button again
  12. You’ll find this time that the File: text box can now be edited. Click browse and locate the outlook.ost in its new location and click OK.
  13. Check the Use Cached Exchange Mode again and click OK.
  14. Click next and then finish.
  15. Close the mail settings applet and launch Outlook again.

Your outlook.ost file is now being used from it’s new location. Only 15 steps to move one file, and some of those steps I’ve doubled up on to be kind!

I understand that this has been improved in 2007 but I haven’t got a copy of that on hand to verify.

As always, I appreciate your comments. Let me know if this did or didn’t help you.

9 thoughts on “Moving your .ost file with Outlook 2003

  1. Thsnks for such a detailed set of steps. I am a developer and part-time network admin so I figured, I can handle this move. Wrong! I was getting too impatient with the process and ended up not getting to the point where I could actually change the location. So I took a deep breath, followed your steps to the T and they worked :-)

  2. You’re all more than welcome, this blog is as much a reminder to myself as it is meant to be a guide so it’s always nice to hear it has helped someone out.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

  3. Brilliant instructions. Why does Microsoft have to make a simple (and necessary if you want to manage your computer properly) step so ridiculously difficult?

  4. Thanks, that was accurate and extremely useful. My C: drive was about to get submerged and now I’ve got 3.5G free.

  5. Thank you very very much, I had been searching for this solution several times in the last year without any luck (My C: drive is 40GB and my main .OST is 7GB).

  6. Worked perfectly. Thanks for posting this. I appreciate the generosity of spirit of folks who take time to help others on the web.

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