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Why Outlook User Should Not Store PST on a Network? Answered

Ugra Narayan Pandey | Modified: 2022-04-20T11:39:12+00:00| Outlook | 5 Minutes Reading

Around the globe number of organizations use the Outlook email application for managed communication. Most Outlook users are very much aware of Outlook local data files i.e., Personal Storage Table (PST). Basically, it is a file that saves the copy of Outlook mailbox data on the hard drive. It caters as a data repository for Outlook users in case of a data loss disaster. Now, most server administrators think the top-notch approach to backup customers’ Outlook PST files is to store them in a network shared environment. And, let the Outlook program redirect to the network share or mapped drive. It sounds like a wonderful plan, but it is not true. Why? Just step through this article to get to know Why Outlook user should not store PST on a network?

First, let us look at what are the consequences to store PST over a Network folder?

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File Server Hang or Unresponsive

Let us understand this issue with an example to know why Outlook user should not store PST on a network;

  • Consider a scenario where a client sends an email to 200 employees within an organization. This message is directly received to the Outlook PST file which is saved on the network file server. Some of these 200 employees require to extend their .pst to receive the email. To do this, one has to allocate more space on the hard disk. As a result, this process locked out the entire volume until free memory space is allotted and MFT (or Master File Table) gets updated. During the procedure, the input/output for the remaining 199 employees is on hold.
  • All the members increase their PST size in the same time frame. This causes file inaccessibility on the volume, resulting in work queues. As a result, the disk becomes overloaded and the server undergoes serious issues. Ultimately, it leads to file Server hang. This is a case when the user receives only one email message over a network.
  • Imagine if each user has multiple PST files over the network and each file has data of around 1 GB. In such an instance, it undergoes a long circular wait and holds the requests for a long time. Adding to it, when a file server is under a heavy load of a process, the server service display paged pool memory issue. It is a part of virtual memory that pages In & Out of the computer.

Import PST From Network Folder Error

  • When users locally move Outlook data files to a local directory, it easily transfers them. But when the user performs the same task same on a Network server, it generates the following error,
‘You can't store Outlook data files under the AppData folder. 
Please choose another folder’
  • Why outlook user should not store PST on a network glitch commonly occurs when a user selects PST from the network and opens it. As soon as a user clicks on Open, this error message displays on the screen. The one and only solution is to create a new PST on the network drive. After that, copy the content from the existing data file on the share to the new .pst on the network share.

Take Long Execution Time

The availability of multiple users over a network creates a load on the Server. As a result, every read and write operation takes a long time to execute. Adding to it, the Write command usually takes more time to execute as compared to a reading operation on a network drive. Furthermore, Outlook performance declines at a higher rate while working with MS Exchange Server.

After understanding the downside of the Outlook PST file over a file server, let’s discuss what makes it inappropriate for the network drive.

Why is Outlook PST Unsuitable for Network Share?

  • To be frank, Network stored .pst files have been considered an unsupported configuration since the days of MS Exchange 4.0. Yes, Microsoft’s not supported to store PST files on a shared drive, and no support or fix is provided by it.
  • Outlook PST used a file-access-driven saving procedure. In this method, the client machine provides a command in order to access a stored file. These instructions are specially for OS to read and write data from the Outlook PST and to overcome the issue of why Outlook user should not store PST on a network.
  • Moreover, the file-access-driven .pst files are not working for WAN or LAN networks. So, it is better to use network-access-drive instead of file-access-driven. The OS provides the commands for sending or receiving data to or from another machine on the network. So, whenever Outlook requests to read remote PST, it uses the file command for the execution of read/write operation. Then, the operating system will send the command over the network server. This will allow the remote location of PST in such a situation.

So, Where is Outlook Support Network Stored PST?

Microsoft Outlook 2010 and below editions supports the configuration of Outlook data file over the network share. However, users need to fulfill the following pre-requisites in order to work with networked PST files:

  • The internet connection should have high bandwidth and broadband network latency must be low.
  • Outlook must be executed either on Windows Server 2008 R2 or later RDSH (Server OS) or VDI (Client OS).

Bringing All Together

It is evident from the above that why Outlook user should not store PST on a network as it has the downside. These limitations might result in a serious error on the client network side. So, it is recommended to not store the .pst data file on the Network Server. However, users can store a PST file with Microsoft Outlook 2010 by using the above-listed guidelines on a network share.