Backing up Outlook pst files

MW rsync at
Wed Dec 17 11:46:23 GMT 2008

Thanks Ryan - thanks for your insight into how Outlook works. I can't  
keep too much data on the Exchange server as the space is limited and  
I don't always have access to it when travelling. For this reason I  
keep local copies which are stored in pst files. I have organised my  
pst files so that I have a current and a number of old archives.  
Originally I did this as I was hoping that Outlook would not modify  
those archives that haven't changed. Maybe the question isn't how to  
back up pst file but how to organise your emails? Anyway, I will try  
the --inplace option but cold you explain what you mean by "VSS  
snapshots" please?


On 16 Dec 2008, at 23:02, Ryan Malayter wrote:

> On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 1:34 PM, MW <rsync at> wrote:
>> Hi - I'm backing up a Windows client which has a number of Outlook  
>> mail
>> archives (pst files) and annoyingly whenever you open Outlook it  
>> updates the
>> modification dates of all pst files - even if you don't change any  
>> of the
>> emails contained in the archive.
>> What's the best way of backing up these files without having them  
>> fill up my
>> backup disk with mostly identical copies of these files. I guess I  
>> could use
>> the --checksum option or is there a better way?
>> BTW, I'm using rsync 3.0.4 on a Mac OS X (Leopard) machine and the  
>> Windows
>> client is running XPW
> When Outlook opens a PST file read-write, its content actually does
> change, even if no email is received. Reasons: calendar reminder
> status changes, read status changes, search index updates, and a bunch
> of other stuff. A PST is essentially a big database file with a bunch
> of different internal tables and indexes.
> So these files are not actaully exact duplicates. If you don't want to
> store all the files, you can use --only-write-batch=FILE and its
> associated options to store only the "delta" of each successive file.
> Periodically, you will have to do a full update of the file though.
> This can be a brittle solution in my experience, especially if the
> chain 'o' files gets somehow munged.
> If your outlook client is connected to a Microsoft Exchange server,
> stop using PST files right now. Keep all your data on the Exchange
> server itself, which is the intended design.
> If your Outlook is connected to a POP server, and the PSTs are your
> only option, then you can use the rsync batch method. A better choice
> might be continuously updating the file using --inplace, and then
> using Time Machine (or whatever other snapshot solution) on the Mac
> side to keep different versions of the PST. We do this with large
> database files: rsync with "--inplace" and use VSS snapshots on the
> Windows server target.
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