Read time 9 minutes

Summary: To change OST file location, first create a new folder in the desired location. Then, using the Control Panel Mail applet, select the Data Files option and add the new folder as a new data file. Finally, set the new folder as the default location for saving new items. Consider using the Kernel for OST to PST tool for any related issues.

In MS Outlook application, an OST file (Offline Storage Table) plays a key role for safekeeping the email message, contacts, notes, calendar, and other mailbox items. It makes the mailbox accessible for an offline account and Outlook saves it at a default location.As Outlook allows you to add multiple accounts in it and each account will have its own data file, so there can be multiple OST files at the same location containing each account’s mailbox.

For an Exchange account, the size of the OST file is not subject to size limits on a server, but due to limited space of a hard disk drive, you may require moving the OST file to a different location. Fortunately, there are multiple methods that help you to change OST file location manually without altering the original setting of the associated Outlook account.

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The location of offline Outlook data file (OST)

When using Outlook with an Exchange account, your mailbox and other data reside on the Exchange Server. If you enable the Cached Exchange Mode,you can access the mailbox items even when Outlook is not connected to the server. To achieve this, the OST file stores a local copy of the Exchange mailbox on your system. The default locations of the OST file are:

  • drive:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook
  • drive:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.
Why move OST file to another drive or a different location?

Here are 4 key reasons why relocating your OST file can significantly benefit your system:

  1. Improve system performance: When the operating system and applications running on a drive consume too much space, the system performance may slow down. As you change Outlook data file location, it can free up space on the drive and improve system performance.
  2. Easy backup and restore: It’s crucial to maintain regular backups of essential files to avoid data loss. When you change Outlook OST file location, it becomes simpler to back up and all together restore data.
  3. Recovery from a system failure: In case of an unfortunate event like a hardware failure or system crash, a well-planned Outlook change OST location procedure can prevent data loss and make recovery easier.
  4. Reduce the risk of file corruption: When the OST file is saved on the same drive as the operating system and applications, the risk of file corruption increases due to disk errors. The process of full Outlook change data file location reduces the risk of file corruption and ensures data integrity.
Changing the default Outlook OST file location

There are workarounds that can help you change OST file location in the right way.

  • Create a new Outlook Profile and move the existing OST file to a new location
  • Disable the Cached Exchange mode and configure a new location for the OST
  • Set ForcePSTPath Registry Entry
  • Using the Symbolic Links

We will discuss all the workarounds to relocate OST files in a more detailed manner.

Method 1: Create a new Outlook profile and move existing OST file to a new location

This method to change OST file location involves creating a new Outlook profile and configuring a new location for the existing OST. Follow the given instructions to perform the same.

  1. Locate the existing OST file and copy and paste it to the new location.
  2. Launch Control Panel and select the Mail option.Launch Control Panel
  3. When you click on the Mail option, it will prompt the Mail Setup dialog box.
  4. In the Mail dialog, click on the Show Profiles button.
  5. Then, in the Mail dialog box, click the Add button.click the Add button
  6. Enter a new Profile name and click OK.Enter a new Profile name
  7. In the next window, enter the credentials of your email account with which you want to create a new Outlook profile. Then, click Next.Enter the credentials of your email account
  8. Once Outlook finishes configuring your new email account, check the Change account settings checkbox and click Next.Change account settings
  9. In the next window, i.e., Server Settings, click on the More Settings button located at the bottom left corner of the interface.
  10. Go to the Advanced tab and click on Outlook Data File Settings.Outlook Data File Settings
  11. Browse the location where you have moved your existing Outlook Data File (OST). Select the specific file, and click Open.Browse the location where you have moved
  12. Finally, click Finish to complete the process.
  13. Once you successfully configured your email profile and changed the location of the existing OST, go back to the Control panel and select Mail again.
  14. Click on the Always use this profile radio button, and from the drop-down list, select the New Profile.Click on Always use this profile
  15. Click Apply to save the changes.
Method 2: Disable the Cached Exchange Mode and change OST file location

The second method involves disabling the Cached Exchange Mode, configuring a new location for the OST file, and re-enabling the Cached Exchange Mode. As a result, a new OST file is created in the newly configured location. This new file will download all the mailbox data from Exchange data automatically. If you have Outlook 2010, you can refer to the below steps to perform the same:

  • In MS Outlook 2010, go to the File tab, click Account Settings > Account Settings > Data Files (alternately, in your system, go to Control Panel, double-click Mail, and click Data Files).
  • After that, on the Data Files tab (of the Account Settings window), choose your account and click Settings.
    Note: Here, you can note the present location of the OST file if you don’t know it.
  • In the new window, go to the Advanced tab, uncheck the Use Cached Exchange Mode check box, and click OK. Click OK. You must restart the application by clicking on OK to apply the changes.account-settings
  • Now again, click Settings, and go to the Advanced tab. After that, click Outlook Data File Settings > Disable Offline Use > Yes.
  • Choose Outlook Data File Settings again and browse for the new folder location of the OST file. Click Open; click OK.
    Note: If you want to move an old OST file to the above location, first copy that OST file to the new location, and then open it.
  • Again, on the Advanced tab, check the Use Cached Exchange Mode checkbox; click OK.
  • Finally, close all the open dialog boxes and click OK.
Method 3: Set ForcePSTPath Registry Entry

A Windows Registry Key ForcePSTPath can be used to change OST file location. This key is available on all Outlook versions, including Outlook Version 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, & 2003.

To change the location of an OST file using the ForcePSTPath key, you need to follow the below steps:

  1. Hold down both the Windows and R keys at once. Type Regedit in the Run window & hit Enter.Type Regedit in the Run window
  2. A Registry Editor window appears. Use the appropriate keys according to your version of Outlook.
    • For Outlook Version 2016, the key is:
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook
    • For Outlook version 2013, the key is:
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook
    • For Outlook Version 2010, the key is:
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook
    • For Outlook version 2007, the key is:
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook
  3. Right-click on an empty area of the Registry Editor in the right-hand pane. Click on New & navigate to Expandable String Value.Navigate to Expandable String Value

  4. It will create a new Value. Add ForceOSTPath to the value and set the new default location in the Value Data box, under the Save OST option. Press OK.Add ForceOSTPath to the value
  5. Restart MS Outlook after closing Registry Editor. A new OST file is automatically created in the default directory if you create a new Exchange account.
Method 4: Using the Symbolic Links

To change OST file location from its default place, Symbolic Links can be utilized via the MKLINK command. This involves creating a symbolic link between the original & new paths.

To complete this process, follow the steps below:

  • Transfer the OST file from its default position to a different location.
  • Launch the Command Prompt window with administrator credentials.
  • Type up the mklink command:
  • mklink %localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook\<file name> “D:\Outlook Data Files\<file name>”

    Symbolic Links

  • Upon executing the command accurately, the Symbolic Link is formed.
Why do you Need Not Move the OST File to Another Computer?

To use the Outlook application, you need not move your OST file to another computer to use Outlook there. When you add your account to Outlook there and enable Cached Exchange Mode, a new OST file is created where you can get all your Outlook data.

Also, there is no need to keep backups for OST files, as Exchange can create them afresh. If Exchange Server crashes for any reason, you can recover your mailbox data and convert OST to PST file easily. An advanced third-party tool is available to perform the same operation,i.e., Kernel for OST to PST.

Conclusion

Outlook stores offline folders (.ost) in different locations depending on the version of Outlook and the operating system. You can use the steps we’ve outlined to find the location of your .ost file and change it if necessary. All the methods to change OST file location are easy to follow and don’t require any technical expertise. You can choose any of these methods at your convenience.

Moreover, in case you are looking to shift to PST data files, go for our recommended OST recovery tool. The software is reliable and helps in recovering the maximum possible data from corrupt or damaged OST files. It repairs all the errors present in the file and makes it accessible again. You can try the trial version of the software to check its features & performance before making a final decision.

Kernel for OST to PST