How to archive old emails manually in Outlook 2010

To do a manual archive, just go to the main screen of Outlook, select the File tab and select “Info”.  You will see these options:

Info page showing mailbox cleanup

Select the “Mailbox Cleanup” Section and the Cleanup tools button menu:

Selecting the "Archive" option from Cleanup menu.

Then select “Archive” from the drop down menu.

This dialog will appear:

Archive Dialog

As shown select “Archive this folder and all subfolders” then select your mailbox at the top as shown by arrow 2 above.  This is important as by default this dialog only archives your inbox and if like me you have a separate top level folder called “Saved Emails” or whatever they won’t get backed up if you select the inbox.  In the date box indicated by arrow 3 select the date before which you want emails archiving, so in my example anything before 1st June 2016 will be archived. Finally select the file name for your archive as indicated by arrow 4.

If you leave Outlook to its own devices it will always save to the same PST file every time.  The problem with that is that the file will become huge over time.  So what I would recommend is that you create a file that matches what the archive will contain.  So if you are archiving everything from the oldest item in your mailbox up to before June 1st 2016, I would call your archive Archive2016-05.pst.  Always do the date in yyyy-mm format so that when you list them in the file explorer they will order correctly oldest to newest.

Once you have your PST file named correctly click “OK”.

The dialog will disappear and the archiving will start, if you switch back to the main Outlook page you will see that the archive is taking place, as at the bottom of your Outlook window there will be a progress bar identifying the folders being archived:

Archivr progress

Until the green progress bar and red stop button disappear archiving is ongoing.  You can continue working but for overall speed and not wanting to interrupt the process I would leave Outlook alone until the process is complete. You won’t get a dialog telling you that the process has finished, you will just notice that the progress bar and red button will have disappeared.

Once the files are archived they are stored in the separate “archive2016-05.pst” file or whatever you named yours.  By default, this is in a folder called “Outlook Files” in your local documents folder.

Once the archive is created Outlook will open the archive automatically at the bottom of your mailbox tree:

Archive showing Outlook left pane.

Now if I want to look at an old email or calendar entry, just go to the archive folder at the bottom.  The advantage is that if you are in a corporate environment the Microsoft Exchange server has now been purged of all the items in the archive meaning your mailbox size will have dropped and the items in the archive are held in the Archive2016-05.pst file on your own file system. If you are a private user not using Microsoft Exchange, your main mailbox file (by default called Outlook.pst) will have been reduced in size and the archived items placed in a separate file.  This is particularly important for performance, as the larger your file the more sluggish activities become in Outlook.  Also opening Outlook takes longer whilst it reads the pst file. Another bonus is that in older versions of Outlook, there was a 2GB limit on your Outlook.pst file and if you exceeded that size Outlook would crash on start up as a result.

If you don’t want to see the archive all the time, you can right click on it and select the “Close archives” option.  If at a later date you want to open it again, just use the following:
Select the File tab, then the “Open” option and then the “Open Outlook Data File” option:
Open Outlook File

This will then open a file selector dialog:

File Selector

Navigate to where you put the archive.pst file and select it, click “OK” and the archive folder will re-appear at the bottom of your folder tree.

Within the archive, you will find all the folder structure that you have in your main Outlook folders. Some folders may not appear if there were no items old enough to archive within them, so they won’t be created in your archive.

If you repeat this process again in 6 months’ time, as long as you quote the same archive file the next set of archived items will be tagged onto the end of the Archive2016-05.pst file so that your previous history remains in one file. If, however you feel that the data is for another period, then I would name the next file to represent what is stored in it, e.g. Archive2016-12.pst.

This ends the procedure.