An Exchange administrator recently came to me with the following
Their site is running Outlook 2003 against Exchange 2003, upgraded
from older versions of Outlook and Exchange 5.5. The upgrade
appeared to go well, however, when setting up new systems or
recreating profiles, the users get an error message when they
attempt to setup their archive file using the original archive,
created using an older version of Outlook. The error message says
that Outlook is running in Unicode mode against Exchange server and
cannot archive items to a non-Unicode Outlook 97-2002 Personal
Folders archive file.
While researching the problem, the administrator learned Unicode
mode deals with multilingual situations in email and he does not
feel they have a need for this ability. He also mentioned he doesn't
want to create new archive psts and move all of the contents of the
original to the new pst because some of the personal stores are very
large and moving the items is time consuming.
He wanted to know what options are available for people with
existing archive files.
Before I answer that question, let's first look why you would choose
to use a Unicode pst. Unicode message stores were created to handle
multilingual email and a side effect of Unicode support is a larger
file size. Many Outlook users don't need multilingual support, but a
lot will benefit from the larger file size.
With a Unicode pst, gone are the days when you had to worry about
data loss due to oversized files because the 2GB limit that caused
problems for many people is lifted - the pst can pretty much grow as
big as you need it, limited only by the size of your free hard drive
space (and a registry key). Along with a larger overall file size,
the 65,000 item limit per folder is gone and each folder now
supports an unlimited number of items. The only drawback to using
Unicode is backwards compatibility: you cannot open a Unicode
message store using an older version of Outlook.
The reason the users see the archive error message is because
Outlook can't archive from a Unicode store (the offline store is
Unicode format when running in Exchange cached mode) to an ANSI pst.
This is a safety measure to prevent corrupting the archive and
resulting in data loss when the archive exceeds 2 GB.
While you can create Unicode archive psts and import all of the
older archived data, I would rename the original archive (rename
both the file name and the display name) and create a new archive in
Unicode format. Users can have more than one personal store in their
profile and can keep both the old and new archives active in their
profile, if they so choose.
When creating a new profile, by default, Outlook creates local
message stores in Unicode format provided the server supports
Unicode, or for a new default personal store. When you upgrade a
profile, Outlook uses the original personal stores or offline stores
and does not upgrade them to Unicode.
How can you tell which message store format you are using? Go to
File, Data File Management and check the format of the pst's in your
profile. If it's Unicode, it will say "Personal Folders File" in the
Format field, older non-Unicode pst's will be "Personal Folders File
If you still want to use the older format, how do you switch? While
I don't recommend switching unless you need to maintain backwards
compatibility, you need to create new personal store in the 97-2002
format and tell Outlook to use it. You can do this either through
Data File Management or Tools, Email Accounts, View or change
existing email accounts, New Outlook data file button. Drag items
from the Unicode pst to the non-Unicode pst.
Everyone loves Outlook 2003's new junk email filter, but they don't
like emptying the junk email folder, yet they can't risk allowing
Outlook to delete all messages marked as junk as the messages
arrive. While right clicking on the folder and choosing "Delete Junk
email" takes but a second, as long as you don't mind having some
junk email around for a couple of days, you can set up AutoArchive
to delete older junk email on a schedule.
By choosing to delete only the messages older than a couple
of days or so and running AutoArchive every 1-4 days, you'll
have time to browse the junk email folder for misdirected
messages. While I recommend keeping junk email for up to a week
to give you time to look for misdirected messages, you can
select any period down to 1 day and have 2 days to check for
To set up autoarchiving, right click on the Junk email folder
and choose Properties, then the AutoArchive tab. Select Archive
this folder using these settings and choose a Clean out items
older than time period. When configuring AutoArchive on Junk
E-mail, you'll want to select Permanently delete old items since
you don't want the junk mail moved to an archive folder. Click
Apply. If you don't have a global AutoArchive setting
configured, Outlook will warn you and set it for the default of
To change the AutoArchive setting so that it runs more often
than 14 days, open Tools, Options, Other tab and click the
AutoArchive button. Select your desired time period, down to 1
day. Note that unless you explicitly enable a folder for
AutoArchive or pressed the button to Apply the setting to all
folders, only the folders you configured for AutoArchive will be
processed when AutoArchive runs.
You can use this same method to permanently delete items from
the Deleted Items folder instead of emptying it when you close
Outlook. This allows Outlook to close a bit faster and gives you
a chance to recover accidentally deleted messages.
My favorite Outlook 2003 feature is the Navigation pane with the
separate panes for each folder type. My mailbox looks neat and
clean, while the folder list looks cluttered. Unfortunately, the
uncluttered look is a major source of confusion for many people who
are familiar with the folder list in older versions of Outlook.
Each week I receive several messages similar to this one: "The
calendar folder is everywhere except the folder list. I cannot make
it visible. I reloaded and also ran detect and repair but it didn't
solve the problem, the calendar appears in the toolbar and the
Navigation pane but not in my folder list. I tried copying the
Calendar in the list in a different spot but nothing showed even
with a different name. Where is Outlook hiding it?"
Of course, this problem is not limited to Calendar folders and
affects any non-mail folder type in Outlook 2003, but my response is
always the same "Do you see it if you view the folder list
(Ctrl+6)?" Not surprisingly, Ctrl+6 is the "fix" always works.
This user was unusual in that even after learning how to view the
folder list, he still didn't seem to understand how the Navigation
pane worked: "It's visible when you CRTL 6 but it vanishes when you
view "All Mail Folders". I'm not even sure when this happened. No
calendar is visible in the "All Mail Folders", only when you click
on the navigation pane or CRTL 6 Folders."
This is because the All Mail Folders pane means just that - only
mail folders. Calendar folders will only be on the Calendar pane, in
the My Calendars section, and in the Folder List pane (Ctrl + 6).
New folders should be added to the My Calendar section, if not, you
can go to the folder list and right click on the folder then choose
Add to My Calendars. Each special folder type has its own navigation
pane and the only time you'll see all of the folders together in one
pane is in the folder list.
Last week I received an email for someone seeking help with a problem. He wrote: "How can I, as an end-user, password protect my mailbox from the system administrator? In other words how do I and other executives keep mail server administrators from snooping into other executive's mailboxes?"
To solve the immediate problem of preventing unauthorized people from reading your email, use personal encryption to secure private messages. Encrypt the message using an electronic email signature such one issued by your employer using Windows certificate services or a public digital signature issued by PGP, Thawte, or Verisign. If you use Outlook 2003, you have the option to use Rights Management instead of encryption. But because the recipient needs to have a copy of your public key to read encrypted messages or the ability to read messages protected by rights management, you should only use them on messages which contain information that needs to remain private and secure.
Beyond that, there isn't much you can do to prevent a determined administrator from reading anyone's email, short of getting a new administrator that you can trust. You could copy items to a personal store and password protect it, but passwords can easily be removed from psts. Many companies don't backup locally stored files and psts are easily corrupted when stored on the network, so you could lose the pst if your computer crashes. You'll also lose access to messages stored in a pst when you access your mailbox through OWA or OMA. For these reasons, I don't recommend using a pst with an Exchange mailbox for any reason.
While most administrators are very concerned about privacy issues when they have to work on a mailbox and go to great pains to avoid reading the contents, your company should have a written company policy covering snooping in other employees mailboxes. Although it won't stop anyone from snooping, a clear written policy gives you some 'teeth' when it comes to disciplining someone for reading other peoples mail without cause.
Finally, in your efforts to secure your email, don't forget to always lock your desktop when you walk away from it. It takes just a second to press the Windows and L keys to lock the desktop and will keep co-workers from reading not only your email, but also any file on your computer.