How does Outlook Express compact an empty folder?

  Trikie 23:27 04 Aug 08

Logging out from e-mail OE offered to compact my folders. I agreed and it spent several minutes compacting the Delete one.

However I had nothing in this folder and so assume that when I delete items they are merely moved to somewhere else. If so can I remove them to free up disk space? (It's an older PC - XP Home - without the modern storage space).

  Forum Editor 08:21 05 Aug 08

the space occupied by the deleted messages is marked as available to the operating system, and will eventually be overwritten if and when the space is required. For that reason you have no cause for concern, Windows XP will see the space as being available for new files if required.

  Trikie 11:17 05 Aug 08

Thanks. No need to worry then but presumably I will continue to get the offer to compact the files for ever more.

  VoG II 11:23 05 Aug 08

Every 100 uses of OE.

  DieSse 18:10 05 Aug 08

Outlook Express folders are in fact single file databases - not conventional folders with files in them.

When you delete a message, it leaves it in the database, but marks it as unavailable - so you don't see it. There is an index file which contains a list of all messages, and which ones are marked as available (ie seen).

Compacting cleans up the database, removes the marked deleted messages, and generates a new index file where only the current messages now exist.

So even empty folders can be compacted - though if you try to compact a second time, there will be nothing left in an empty folder to compact.

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