OST File – Introduction And Uses of Outlook Data File (.ost file)

Offline storage Files or OST – As the name indicates, it is created in an environment which is devoid of network connections. Sometimes we have done some sort of changes but we don’t recall that such changes are made in the OST files. These OST files are copied automatically when ever information is exchanges on Outlook platform. This goes as follows: The mail is exchanged between client and the server. In the server the original message is sent, while the user’s system entails a default copy of the OST files. After sometime, if the user wishes to make some changes in the corresponding OST files, then it can be made at the same time, even if the network connections are not enabled.

Enabling the Modifications in OST Files

When the Offline changes are made in OST files, the actual changes are not made in the real OST file which is stored in the Exchange Server. These changes are made in the OST files which are the copy of the real OST files and are stored by default in MS Outlook. The changes are automatically saved and later on get updated when network connection is enabled. The updated changes can be witnessed in the real OST file which is saved in Exchange Server.

Creating OST Files by Own

Creating OST file may differ somehow on different versions of MS Outlook.
OST files for Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013

  1. If you are using Outlook 2007, then click Tools menu. For Outlook 2010 users, click on File Tab -> Info -> Account Settings.
  2. From Account Settings click on Microsoft Exchange followed by More Settings.
  3. On Advanced tab click on Offline Folder File Settings. For Outlook 2013 users Outlook Data File Settings must be used.
  4. From File box, type the path name of the file you want to use followed by OK. The default name of such file would be Outlook.ost.
  5. If such file is already present, then a dialog box will appear. Click OK ->Next->Finish.

For Outlook 2002 and 2003 users

  1. From Tools menu click E-Mail Accounts ->View or Change Existing Mail Accounts->Next.
  2. In Outlook processes email for these accounts in the following order box, click on Microsoft Exchange Server followed by Change.
  3. Click on More Settings followed by clicking on Advanced tab, then Offline Folder File Settings.
  4. In File Box type the file path which you desire to use. Click OK. The default name of the file is Outlook.ost.
  5. If the file is already pre-existing, then the system will promptly respond to it. Just click OK ->Next ->Finish.

Maintaining OST files

Creating OST files is one thing and maintaining them is completely the other side of the story. Alike PST file of Outlook platform, the OST files are also prone to corruption. Most of the times, when user is not concerned with these technical glitches, the inaccessibility of such files are treated as severe in every aspect i.e. even if the corruption is minor.

To deal with minor issues, there is an inbuilt utility named ‘scanost.exe’ which is present in Outlook 2007 and prior versions. However, if the user is taking services from recent versions of Outlook, then it is recommended to take assistance from an external agency. The external agencies make use of sophisticated set of algorithms – OST to PST tool to deal with OST-related issues.

What works the best?

The following measures must be taken for better functioning of OST files and their creation:

  • Be clear about the file path, name and other required attributes.
  • Ensure that the path name is correct and contains the name of the file as decided.
  • Recheck system network connections before making changes in OST files.
  • Try inbuilt utility if possible followed by evaluation version of an external agency.

Keeping these things in the mind will support your OST-work to be smoothly carried on without any halts and hurdles.