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Recovering Disk Space in Outlook Express

When deleting emails from Outlook Express, the space is not recovered immediately.

In fact, deleting an email can increase the space consumed by the email store because the message is copied to the Deleted Items folder first. This occurs because each folder in Outlook Express is represented by an individual file, and moving messages between folders involves copying them into new files.

If you wish to immediately delete an email so that is not first copied to the Deleted Items folder, press Shift-Delete instead of Delete.

Outlook Express versions prior to 6.00.2900.2180 (the version shipped with Windows XP Service Pack 2) will compact the store to recover deleted space in the background, while you work. So over a period of time, the email store will shrink by itself.

Outlook Express in Windows XP Service 2 will not shrink in the background, but instead routinely (every 100 times) asks you if you wish to compact the store when you exit. Always choose Yes when prompted.

All versions allow the store to be shrunk manually, by going to ToolsOptionsMaintenance. Click Clean Up Now and then Compact, although this does not always compact fully.

If you are attempting to reduce the size of the store, you can determine which folders are in most need of attention as follows:

  1. Click Local Folders in the left-hand pane. In the right-hand pane a count of the messages in each folder will be shown.

  2. Check the individual folder sizes:

    1. Go to Tools, Options, Maintenance and click Store Folder.

    2. Press Alt-Y (this will highlight the store folder path).

    3. Press Ctrl-C (this will copy the path into memory).

    4. Click Cancel and Cancel to close the dialog boxes.

    5. Click Start, choose Run and press Ctrl-V (this will paste the path into the prompt. Click OK.

      A folder view of the store path will be displayed. The filenames of the individual files correspond to the folder names. Consider the largest files first. (Note: do not delete or attempt to modify the files.)

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