Outlook 365 is a popular email client used by millions of professionals worldwide. It stores your mailbox data, including emails, calendars, and contacts, in a data file known as OST (Offline Storage Table). By default, this OST file is stored in a specific location on your computer. However, there may be times when you need to change the location of this file without having to create a new Outlook profile.
Although the process seems very easy by needs to be performed with utmost care to avoid the risk. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of changing the Outlook 365 OST file location without the hassle of recreating your profile along with all the safety measures and methods you should adopt before doing it.
Why Change the OST File Location?
Before we dive into the step-by-step guide, it’s important to understand when and why you might want to change the location of your OST file in Outlook 365. Here are a few common scenarios:
- Running out of disk space: If your C: drive is running low on storage space, you might want to move your OST file to another drive with more space.
- Data migration: You may want to change the location of your OST file when migrating to a new computer or when switching to a different drive for backup purposes.
- Organization: Some users prefer to keep their data files organized and store them in specific folders or drives.
How to Change the OST File Location?
Now that we’ve covered the why, let’s move on to the how. This process involves a few preparations so that you do not end up losing all your data permanently.
Step 1: Close Outlook
- Before you make any changes, it’s essential to close Outlook to ensure that no processes are accessing the OST file.
Step 2: Locate the Current OST File
The default location of your OST file is usually in the “C:\Users<Your Username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook” directory. However, this can vary based on your Windows version. To confirm the location of your OST file:
- Open Outlook.
- Click on “File.”
- Select “Account Settings” and then click “Account Settings” again.
- In the “Data Files” tab, you will see a list of your data files, including the OST file.
- Note the path to your current OST file location.
Step 3: Choose a New Location
- Decide where you want to move your OST file. You can create a new folder on another drive or select an existing folder for this purpose.
Step 4: Move the OST File
- Copy your current OST file from its original location (as noted in Step 2) to the new location you’ve selected.
Step 5: Update the Registry
Changing the location of the OST file requires updating the Windows Registry. Be very cautious when making changes to the Registry, as it can impact your system if not done correctly. Follow these steps:
- Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
- Type “regedit” and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
- Navigate to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office<Your Office Version>\Outlook.”
- In the right pane, you will see a key called “ForceOSTPath.” If it’s not there, right-click in the space, choose “New,” and then “String Value.” Name it “ForceOSTPath.”
- Double-click on “ForceOSTPath” and enter the path to your new OST file location.
- Click OK.
Step 6: Restart Outlook
After making the changes, close the Registry Editor and restart Outlook. It should now use the new location for your OST file.
Consequences when the Changing Outlook 365 OST Location gone wrong
Changing the location of your Outlook 365 OST file can have several consequences if done incorrectly or without taking proper precautions. It’s important to understand the potential risks and challenges involved in case something goes wrong. Here are some of the consequences that you might face if the process of changing the OST file location goes wrong:
Data Loss: One of the most significant risks is the potential for data loss. If the move operation is not executed properly, you could end up with a corrupted or incomplete OST file. This can result in the loss of important emails, contacts, calendar entries, and other mailbox data.
Outlook Profile Issues: Incorrectly modifying the OST file’s location in the Windows Registry can lead to issues with your Outlook profile. Outlook may fail to recognize the new location, and you may experience difficulties accessing your mailbox or receive an Outlook data synchronization error.
Outlook Crashes: Making mistakes while changing the OST file location can lead to Outlook crashes or errors. These crashes may disrupt your work and require troubleshooting to resolve.
System Instability: Editing the Windows Registry is a sensitive operation. If you make errors while modifying registry keys, it can lead to system instability or other Windows-related problems. This can affect not only Outlook but the overall performance of your computer.
Difficulty in Recovery: If the OST file becomes corrupted due to an incorrect move, recovering lost data can be challenging. While there are methods to repair OST files, these may not always be successful, and some data could be irretrievable.
Loss of Productivity: Dealing with the consequences of a failed OST file relocation can be time-consuming and frustrating. It may result in a loss of productivity as you troubleshoot and attempt to restore your Outlook functionality.
Security Risks: Incorrectly handling the OST file can expose your email data to security risks. Sensitive information within your emails and attachments could potentially be at risk if the file is not properly secured during the move.
To mitigate these consequences; and minimize the risks of changing the OST file location, it’s crucial to follow best practices and take certain precautions:
Backup your Data: Before making any changes create a backup of your OST file and any critical data. This ensures that you have a copy of your mailbox data in case something goes wrong.
Follow Detailed Instructions: Carefully follow detailed and reliable instructions for moving the OST file, such as those provided by Microsoft or trusted sources. Ensure you understand each step before proceeding.
Backup the Registry: Before making changes to the Windows Registry, create a backup of the registry to easily restore it if needed.
Seek Professional Help: If you are not comfortable or experienced with registry editing or file management, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance or IT support.
Thus, while changing the location of your Outlook 365 OST file can be useful in certain situations, it should be done with caution and a thorough understanding of the process. A wrong move can result in data loss, Outlook profile issues, system instability, and other problems that may disrupt your workflow and productivity.
Changing the location of your Outlook 365 OST file without recreating your profile is a useful skill to have, especially when dealing with storage limitations or reorganizing your data. Following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can safely and efficiently move your OST file to a different location while keeping your Outlook profile intact. Remember to handle the Windows Registry with care as any incorrect modifications can affect your system’s performance.