What Is a Personal Storage Table (PST) File? How to Open It? [MiniTool Wiki]

An Introduction to PST File

First of all, what is a PST file?

A Personal Storage Table (PST) file, referred to as a personal file or an offline folder used as a cache in Outlook’s exchange mode, can store items like calendar events, contacts, and email messages.

Born in the mid-1990s in the Microsoft Exchange email client when it was used to help users access server mailboxes, from then on, the PST file allows users to create local archives of the email folders they have on server-based email clients.

A file with the PST file extension is an Outlook Personal Information Store file that stores personal information used in Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange.

When a new email account is added to Outlook, Outlook creates a local copy of the information onto the user’s device, which enables users to access emails they have previously downloaded or synchronized, contacts and calendar information, and tasks even if they are offline.

The size of these files is no longer calculated against the size of the mailbox in use, but by moving the files from the server mailbox to the PST file, through which the user can free up storage space on the mail server.

Besides, it is not recommended to open and use PST files over the network as using Personal Storage Table files in this way can easily be corrupted.

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Advantages of PST File

Space Utilization

With the help of the PST file, you can spare more amount of room and time that administrators spend helping end users reach the maximum inbox capacity by reducing the amount of data residing on the E-mail server. More space can be saved for your emails.

Password Protection

Password protection can be used to protect the content of PST files. Outlook checks to ensure that the password specified by the user matches, and rejects the action if it does not. The libpst project code can read this data.

Microsoft offers three values for the encryption setting:

  • None - The PST data is stored as plain text.
  • Compressible - The PST data is encrypted using the byte replacement password of the fixed replacement table.
  • High - Encryption is similar to a WWII German Enigma cipher with three fixed rotors.

Security Issues of PST File

PST files are commonly used for email storage. However, some security issues can easily happen if they are configured in the wrong way. People’s privacy can be sold as a great treasure for cybercriminals, for which PST file, as a form of email storage, becomes a target to gain profits.

The widespread use of PST files makes email one of the most common threat vectors targeted by cyber criminals and the sophistication and volume of email-based attacks continue to increase. To cope with this situation, developers are exploring new ways to prevent data leakage and illegal intrusion.

Although there is password protection, it only adds very little protection, due to the existence of commonly available tools which can remove or simply bypass the password protection.

Besides, part of the problem with PST files is that in this day and age there are stability issues and unexpected access errors that can easily cause PST files to be corrupted and users to be unable to access their email inboxes.

In addition, the fact that PST files reside on the user's local device runs the risk that they are not backed up. If the data is lost because of a hard drive crash or other computer or device problem, then it may not be recoverable.

To avoid that, it is recommended to back up your data with the help of MiniTool ShadowMaker. To do your backup regularly, you can avoid further damage caused by cyber-attacks.

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PST File locations

The fastest way to find the PST file location is by following the steps.

Step 1: Open Outlook and go to File.

Step 2: Go to the Open & Export tab and click on Open Outlook Data File.

Step 3: Scroll down and choose the Outlook PST file.

Step 4: Click Open and you may now view the mail items in the PST file.

If you want to close it, right-click on the PST file in the left pane and choose Close “YourPSTFileName”.

Outlook Data Files (.pst) created by using Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 are typically saved on your computer in the Documents\Outlook Files folder.

If you upgraded to Outlook on a computer that already had data files that were created in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or earlier, these files are saved in a different location in a hidden folder at drive:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.

Final Words

After reading this article, you may have a general understanding of PST files. What is a PST file? And how to open it? You can find the answers here.

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