Guest Post by:
Lisa Hendrickson of Call That Girl
Welcome to my Outlook FYI series of blogs. We will be covering these topics in a series as there is just way too much information to handle in one blog. I felt that these FYI’s were important to discuss because so many people use Outlook every day, for so many things. And Outlook is just not for email anymore. I also apologize, there are no “How to” in my blogs, just FYI’s. This blog will just explain things hopefully better for you to understand.
Many of us use Outlook in our everyday computing needs. It’s a wonderful tool, but very misunderstood by the common user. And maybe by some not so common people. Many of us are really married to it and I am all for it because it’s been my favorite software program since 2000, but it can be tricky and problematic.
Topic covered today
Last weekend one of my clients took a computer to a “big box” place to buy a new computer and in a panic, had them do a data back up from his old computer to get the files quickly. When he got his computer back, he asked many times about the Outlook files and they told him, “We couldn’t get those files, they were corrupted”. He panics and comes back to us, where we find his files in no time flat. Why is that? Because we know where Microsoft hides the PST files, their technician must not have known. Years of data, calendar appointments, tasks, contacts, emails, archives…all could have been gone in one fast “Nope” type answer. Let me explain…
By default, when you set up Outlook for the first time, it creates what is called a PST (personal storage). You usually complete a set up wizard, fill in all of your email account information and happy days, email is back and running again! Email is working fine, but…Houston, we have a problem.
Again by default, the Outlook PST file on older computers that have XP and Windows Vista are set up in a hidden folder (not in Windows 7, it’s in the Documents folder now), way deep in some folders that are not shown by default. Windows says “click here to show hidden files” the average person would never think of going to find. Nor do they really make it easy to find unless you know how to navigate around the Outlook properties and settings. To be honest, very few of my clients know where this file is or know it exists.
So you may ask, why should you need to know where that PST is? Because it stores everything you do in Outlook. If you are using Pop3 for email, that’s where your email probably is being downloaded. Using the calendar? That’s where your calendar is. Contacts, Tasks, Auto-fill name, archive files….Yep, all there and hidden. And please never assume your emails are being kept on your server because that is not the truth in many cases either. (That will be our topic next Wednesday though, email).
I think of Outlook like this, it’s like buying a house but you don’t know where the furnace is. You know you have heat and can manage the thermostat…but don’t know where the furnace really is. Could you imagine that? Buying a house with no furnace, then one day you notice something is wrong and you can’t find the furnace at all. But you Google it and find the house builders buried your furnace underneath your basement. That is what Microsoft does with your default PST, hides it under the basement pretty much. And when you find the furnace, let’s say you can’t get it out of the basement because the house builders never told you how to get in and find it nor do they allow you to just open that basement door and see your furnace. You can see the outside of it, but you can’t see the pilot light to know its running. Your PST is in those deep hidden folders and you can’t just double click them to open them. You must open them through two or three special ways and the common person, again…doesn’t know how to do this. (I hope I didn’t lose you on the furnance comparison, but it’s the only thing that I could think of this am!)
Whenever I am remoted into a client’s machine and they are missing an archive folder, I go and find it open it. Most times I get this, “How did you do that”. Such a mystery that Microsoft really didn’t need to do to people.
To close, today’s topic of the infamous Outlook PST file was a just a start of my series of Outlook blogs. I will try to keep up with these every Wed and will continue to post in this blog, so favorite it and come back next week! Please share with your friends on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Newsletters, etc. If you or a loved one are in a need of an Outlook intervention (haha), or just need assistance, I am the Outlook gal here at Call That Girl and I know it well. Let me help you and quickly!
When your Outlook is not playing well… Googling repairs is fine and I recommend you do that to learn, but when it comes to actually repairing it, call your tech to fix it right. They can help you get back to work fast..
Call That Girl