PST files are associated with Microsoft Outlook and are personal folders which have a storage limit of 2GB. PST stands for personal storage and the data pertains to personal information which is used for the Outlook mail client and Microsoft Exchange. The information is held in the folder with a PST file extension and when the Exchange Server is not being accessed.
PST files contain data such as contact information, email messages, tasks, addresses, appointments, and a variety of other data that pertains to email functions. Since the PST folder has a storage limit, it can cause Microsoft Outlook to slow down if the information contained in the folder reaches its storage limit, unless you have Office Service Pack 1 installed. This can also make it difficult to recover email from a specific date range, especially if you are using Outlook 2003.
PST files can be reduced by deleting items from the folder and through cleaning out the Deleted Items folder under the Tools setting in Outlook. Once you reduce the size of the PST folder, Outlook will compress the folder when your PC is running idle. This process takes place in the background, so the reduction of the folder size may not be immediately visible.
How to Open PST Files
It is important to mention that Microsoft provides a free tool for backing up PST files in addition to a tool known as Exchange 2000 Tool: PST2GB. The Exchange Tool will repair a PST file that has gotten too large in size; however, you should be cautious when using this tool since it will truncate the file to enable Outlook to better handle the file. This means you will lose files in the process and you may be unable to open and view the contents of PST files.
If you use Windows, the most common method for opening PST files is by using Microsoft Outlook 2010 or Exchange Server 2010. PST files can also be viewed in Outlook Express. Other useful programs for opening PST files include BitDaddys Email Open View Pro which is available as a trial download on the BitDaddys website. You may also use SysTools Outlook to Notes which is third party software that will convert PST files to NSF files to enable you to open and access the PST file contents. SysTools Outlook Notes is available as a trial version from the SysTools Group website.
In the event PST files have become damaged or corrupt, you can try to open them using Outlook Recovery Toolbox. This is a third party software application that will restore damaged files in the Outlook email client and then save the information in a new PST file up to a maximum of 1GB. The new folder resembles the original data structure, and messages and other objects are recovered with the attachments. Outlook Recovery Toolbox is available from the Outlook Email Recovery website under a try before you buy license.
If you use Mac OS X, you can open PST files using Microsoft PST Import Tool for Entourage. You can obtain it from the Microsoft Download Center website.