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How to use Offline Folders in Outlook 2002?

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While working on Microsoft Outlook with Microsoft Exchange Server Information Service, user can work on Offline folders i.e. user can utilize the contents of a folder without network connection. Offline folders are the quickest and easiest way to work offline with Exchange Server as they allow the users to work with the contents of an Exchange Server folder without any internet connection, so that later when user is connected to the network, he/she can synchronize the folders.

Offline folders are saved in OST file, the default location for which on Microsoft Windows 2000 is your current Documents and Settings/username\Local Settings\Application Data\ Microsoft\Outlook folder, or Windows\Local Settings\Application Data\Outlook on Microsoft Windows 98.

Like personal folders (.pst) files, the .ost files can also be compacted to save space of your computer memory.  Difference between an OST file and a PST file is that offline folder file starts as a mirror image of your folders on Exchange Server and is update by server during synchronization. PST folders are simply storage location on hard disk or a server rather than Exchange Server computer.

While working offline, user can work with the files available on offline folder similar to what anyone can do with a folder available on server. Like changing or moving items in offline Inbox, sending messages place in offline Outbox and reading offline public folders. User continues to receive messages on their online mailbox but will not be aware of the changes on server until he/she connects to the network.

Whenever the users need to update the contents of the offline folder, they can synchronize the folder with server and continue working offline. Synchronize command connects to the server through Dial-Up Networking, copies changes made and then disconnects. Any item deleted from offline folder or any corresponding server folder will also be deleted from both folders during the synchronization process.

Creating Offline Folder File

    1. Click Email Accounts on Tools menu, click View or change existing mail accounts and click Next.
    2. In the Outlook processes email for these accounts in following order box, click on Microsoft Exchange Server and then click Change.
    3. Click on More Settings.
    4. Click on Advanced tab, then click Offline Folder File Settings.
    5. In the File box, type the path to file that you want to use as OST file and then click OK. The default name is Outlook.ost and if this file already exists, you will receive a prompt for new name.

If you receive message below, click OK:

<path><filename>.ost could not be found. Would you like to create it?

Where <path> represents path to ost file and <filename> represents name of ost file

  1. Click on OK, Next and Finish

How to set which folders are available offline?

The Inbox, Outbox, Deleted Items, Sent Items, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Journal, Notes and Drafts folders are automatically available offline when you set up offline folders. To use any other folder offline, you would have to specifically set it for offline use. To do so:

  • On Tools menu, point to Send/Receive settings and then click Define Send/Receive Groups
  • Click Send/Receive group containing an Exchange Server account in the list and click Edit
  • Click Exchange Server account in Accounts
  • Select the folders in the list on which you want to work offline in addition to your default folders. If in case you want to apply a filter to a specific folder, click the folder, click Filter Selected Folder and then select the options that require. If you want to limit the message size for download, click Limit Message Size while synchronizing folders and then click the options that you require.
  • Click OK

You are finished with using OST files with Outlook 2002. Working with ost files create need of ost to pst conversion or exchange ost recovery when important emails are deleted from the offline folders. Kernel for OST helps in both cases as it helps to convert ost file to pst file and perform ost recovery of emails permanently deleted from the mailbox.

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