Outlook Express Tidy up!

  RLMTS 22:54 10 Aug 10

I currently have approx 400 folders/sub-folders in Outlook Express to help organise and sort my work emails.

These include copies of all my SENT emails too. I am guessing there are probably thousands of individual mails stored in this 'mailbox directory structure'

Can you think of some way I can simplify / archive this huge amount of data, but still have it quickley accessible should I need to recover or review older emails.

In my mind, what would be nice is an uncluttered setup of recent (say 6 months) communication, with the option of opening something else up should I need to look back further at older emails.

Something like another 'offline' email program containing the older emails, that can be easily reviewed and added to as time progresses

Any ideas anyone?

  BGL 12:58 11 Aug 10

The easiest option would be to create a windows folder called "Archived Emails" and copy your old mails into it by dragging & dropping. You could sub-divide this folder into months or years by creating other folders within "Archived Emails" if you so wish.

Once the emails have been copied you can delete them from Outlook Express which will free up valuable space as you can run into problems with OE if you overload the folders.

Hope this helps!


  RLMTS 13:18 11 Aug 10

Thanks David,
I'll have a play with that idea later, and mark this as 'resolved' if all is ok.

  Batch 09:03 12 Aug 10

Althugh disk space may not be at a premium, BGL's suggestion will utilise a relatively large amount of space.

This is because, in OE, each mail folder is a single file containing many emails (and gets compacted by OE periodically).

Contrast with creating a separate windows foldeer and dragging each individual mail to this. Each mail will be a single file, each occupying (typically) 4096 bytes or a multiple thereof. This is due to the fact that the file system (e.g. NTFS) allocates disk space (for each file) in one or more chunks of a fixed size regardless of the actual file size. E.g. a file containing 1 byte will always occupy 4096 bytes, likewise a 4097 byte file will always occupy 8192 bytes and so on.

An alternative is to move all of your old mails into a separate (set of) OE folder(s) from within OE and then copy these from the OE store location to somewhere else (then you can renove them from within OE once they are secured elsewhere) and use a standalone mailviewr app like Mail Viewer (see click here) to view the archived mails.

  Batch 13:18 12 Aug 10

Was in a rush earlier, so a little more detail here:-

In OE, create a mail folder for your archive (e.g. ArchivedStuff)

Move the relevant emails to this folder.

Locate the details of the OE Store Folder (Tools, Options, click on Maintenance tab and then click Store Folder button) - this wil tell you where yor email .dbx files are stored.

Close OE.

In Windows Explorer, copy the archived mail folder file (e.g. ArchivedStuff.dbx) to wherever you want to keep it (e.g. somewhere in My Documents)

Install the Mail Viewer software referred to above and make sure that you can access the archived emails in the copy (e.g. in My Documents) of ArchivedStuff.dbx that you have just made.

If all is OK, you can restart OE and delete the ArchivedStuff mail folder from within OE.

NB. As ever, you should always create backups of all of your data.

  RLMTS 23:18 12 Aug 10

Thanks Batch,

Just had a look at this.

The only problem I see with this method is that I am unable to maintain a folder/directory structure that maintains the organisation that currently exists.

If I use the 'viewer' to look at the emails by selecting the parent folder of other folders, the viewer simply reports "File Does Not Contain Any Message"
(See example layout below)

Am I correct?
Orders Sent (Eg; Parent Folder) (Empty)
Sub Folder 1 IT (Empty)
| |
| Misco (Email Folder)
| CPC (Email Folder)
Sub Folder 2 Tools (Empty)
ScrewFix (Email Folder)
Amazon (Email Folder)

  RLMTS 23:24 12 Aug 10

Does this present itself any better?
(Leading spaces were deleted in my post)
Orders Sent (Eg; Parent Folder) (Empty)
........Sub Folder 1 IT (Empty)
........|............Misco (Email Folder)
........|............CPC (Email Folder)
........Sub Folder 2 Tools (Empty)
.....................ScrewFix (Email Folder)
.....................Amazon (Email Folder)

  Batch 09:31 13 Aug 10

I think the problem you are running in to is that the viewer fundamentally does not support the hierarchy of mail folders - it just enables you to view a named mail folder.

I think what you are saying is that Orders Sent, IT and Tools would all be a hierarchy of ordinary windows file folders structured to replicate your existig email hierarchy, with the DBXs placed appropriately within that. Yes, you could do that.

Alternatively you could just rename all of the DBXs to reflect the hierarchy and just store them in one file folder. E.g.



Following on from this, one thing to watch out for is making copies of mail folders which exist at different places in your overall hierarchy and have the same name (as other mail folders). For example, at different places in my hierarchy I have used the folder name Misc 4 times. When I look (in Windows Explorer) at the DBXs I have Misc.dbx, Misc(1).dbx, Misc(2).dbx and Misc(3).dbx

There is no immediate way of knowing which is which. I believe the details (of all the hierarchy) are stored in Folders.dbx which is NOT the same sort of thing as all the other mail DBXs (there are one or two other "special" DBXs as well).

If this is a potential issue for you, I would STRONGLY suggest that you rename any folders with duplicate names from within OE before making copies etc. That way, you should avoid any confusion and attendant risks of making copies of the wrong thing and then (later) finding that you've deleted something from within OE that you haven't actually got a copy of in the "archive" set-up.


As an alternative to all of this, you could consider creating a new Windows user and importing the stuff that you want as an archive into OE for that user. It maybe that just creating a new OE Identity (under your existing user) would provide a solution as well, but I'm not sure how the mail folders are managed in that case as I've never done it (whereas a completely new user would definitely have a discrete set of mail folders).

  Batch 11:05 13 Aug 10

Having scanned through the OE Help on Identities, this may work for you. But ultimately it is just another set of mail folders within OE accessible via another identity.

You could just as easily create an Archive folder within your current identity, move all the old stuff into sub-folders therein, and which you can keep collapsed until you want to view them. It means they are instantly accessible without opening up some other app.

I think it really depends on what you are trying to achieve. If it is just a feeling of being tidy I think the Archive folder solution in the para above works just as well. If you explicitly want to store them separately (for example, so that they don't need to be backed up repeatedly), then the earlier suggestion of copying outside OE (and using the Mail Viewer) probably works better.

  RLMTS 18:50 28 Aug 10

Thanks BGL, Thanks BATCH,

Been on hols, will try a few things tomorrow.

Also thought of another idea, what about exporting it all to another (offline) Email prog?

(I guess you can only really do that one time though!?)

  Batch 17:22 29 Aug 10

When you say "offline", what are you thinking of?

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