Merge archive files

Over the years I’ve created many archive files (I used to archive by month and then later by year as space became less of an issue). I still use them as a reference sometimes and I’d like to combine them into one big archive as it is easier for searching as well.
How can I merge them together?

Sadly, there is no easy way to merge them directly but there are some workarounds for this.

As technically an archive is no different from any other pst-file, you can reconnect to them via File-> Open-> Outlook Data File… to access and view their contents.

Since you are going to create one big archive, I’d recommend that you start off with a new pst-file which will become your “Master Archive” and then copy the contents of all your archive into this archive instead of appending any existing archive. This way, you’d still have the original in case a merge goes wrong.

To do this choose;

  1. File-> New-> Outlook data file… and choose a location and name for the archive file and a display name for it in Outlook.
    I recommend a folder called Outlook in your Documents folder. Either way, make sure you do not select a network location as that is not supported.
    If you get prompted for a type of storage file, do not select the 97-2002 version as you’ll archive will limited to 2GB then (pst-files created in Outlook XP/20002 and previous will always be limited to 2GB).
  2. Connect the archive to Outlook if it hasn’t been connected yet;
    File-> Open-> Outlook Data File…
  3. Copy the contents from the original archive to the new “Master Archive”. You can copy entire folders at once.
    Use the right mouse button instead of the left when dragging and dropping to make sure you are copying.
  4. To easily move Calendar items, switch to a table view like All Appointments;
    View-> Current View-> All Appointments
  5. Once done copying, disconnect the original archives via File-> Data File Management…
  6. If you want the new “Master Archive” to be you default archiving location, you can change the location in;
    Tools-> Options-> tab Other-> button AutoArchive…

Using Import
You could use the Import option (File-> Import and Export…) as well to import your original archives into a new “Master Archive”. However, the Import process gives you less control in selecting a different destination location on a per-folder or even per-item basis. The Import process is also known to freeze on occasion. When it works, it is definitely the faster option. When it hangs, it is hard to find out where it got stuck and from which point you need to continue the import process to prevent duplication.

When you go for the Import option keep in mind the following 3 things;

  • Scan all your pst-files with scanpst.exe first as errors in the pst-file can hang the import process.
  • Make a backup of all your pst-files (and possibly your Exchange mailbox) before starting with importing and create a new backup after each successful import.
    This way, when an import goes wrong, you don’t have to fiddle with cleaning up manually. Simply restore the backup (replace the pst-file when Outlook is closed) and try again or use the manual method as indicated above.
  • Make sure you select the “Master Archive” as the destination for the import process. If you forget this, your archive will import into your main mailbox instead.
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