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I am guessing the answer is no, but can multiple outlook users use the same PST file at the same time from a file server?

The idea being to get some old stuff off of the Exchange server that a couple people would still need to view...

Alternatively, if only one can have it open at a time, would different users opening it and closing it technically work if they remembered to close it when they were done.

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12 Answers 12

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I am guessing the answer is no, but can multiple outlook users use the same PST file at the same time from a file server?

Fortunately or unfortunately the answer is no - Outlook does an exclusive lock on the PST - even if its marked as read-only.

The idea being to get some old stuff off of the Exchange server that a couple people would still need to view...

Why do you need to move it off the Exchange server? I ask only because storage is relatively cheap, and by keeping it on a properly backed-up Exchange server the data is in a much safer place...

Alternatively, if only one can have it open at a time, would different users opening it and closing it technically work if they remembered to close it when they were done.

Not quite. Outlook only releases the lock when the user closes Outlook. So unless everyone wants to close and then re-open Outlook every time they are done, that's not really going to work either.

If its just information that needs to be referenced, you may want to look at exporting the mail items to RTF or some other document format and then leave those on a file server. Or, like I mentioned before, keep it where it is. If its not already in a public folder, move it there and keep it on the Exchange server.

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Why.. I thought maybe Large Mailboxes = More load on exchange storage, or is that not true? –  Kyle Brandt Aug 7 '09 at 13:39
    
The main reason some were being put on the File Server was to ensure backup, maybe making bkf files and putting them on the file server is a better option? –  Kyle Brandt Aug 7 '09 at 13:44
    
While more storage in Exchange -> more load; it usually isn't enough to be worth mentioning. The convenience and security of Exchange usually far outweighs the alternatives. If nothing else you can always backup Exchange using Task Scheduler and eseutil, such as eseutil /y preiv1.edb \\fileserver\backups\exchange_backup.edb (though I'd recommend a more robust solution). –  Chris S Apr 23 '11 at 4:50

I reckon the solution for this would be to create a Public Folder and give the users access to this information. This way you keep the data safe and backed up in Exchange.

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Multiple users can access/use a single PST file if they have at least Office 2007 version. 2003 doesn't allow that.

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I'd use one of the tools that extracts messages and attachments to a folder structure. I've used MessageSave from TechHit, but there are others.

There used to be products that would allow PSTs to be shared, but I think they all went away when 2003 came out.

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Absolutely NOT. .PST files can not be accessed by multiple users at the same time because Outlook releases the lock only when the .PST file gets closed.

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Also one thing you might think about is if the .pst becomes corrupted, you'll lose multiple users' mailboxes which could become...sticky...

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Going by the other suggestions the best option is really to keep the data in Exchange. But, if this is old data then why not have a copy of the pst on both users local machines. If they are purely going to be using that data for reference then they won't be making any changes to it that requires both copies to be kept in sync and you can keep a backup just in case.

Of course you may have reasons to keep this data off their local machine. Security, disk space, etc.

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I would suggest creating a new mailbox that all required users have access to, then using Outlook to import the .pst into that mailbox. Then, you can add the new mailbox as a secondary within each users' Outlook

This would provide access to more than one user, and would do away with .pst files which are generally more pain than they're worth

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PST files cannot be shared in the way you describe.

When Outlook locks the PST file, nothing else can open the file at all. This is often noticed if backup software attempts to back up an open PST file.

The suggestions for placing it in a read-only location are guaranteed to fail. Outlook will report a lack of permissions if it is unable to acquire a read-write lock on the file. See KB178756.

Your other idea, letting users open and close it as needed is going to result in your users hating you. While it is possible to open a PST file from the File menu and then close if by right-clicking it in the folder list, Outlook does not release the lock until Outlook exits. So your users would be forced to exit and restart Outlook every time they are done with the PST file.

Finally, PSTs have no place on a file server in the first place. As stated in KB297019, PSTs are designed to be accessed locally and accessing them over the network causes a significant amount of overhead, potentially slowing down your network, and definitely slowing down the end-user experience. There's also a blog post from the Windows performance team on the topic here.

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Putting PST files on file servers is also a baaaaaad idea: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/297019

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Uh oh.... Thanks MH, this is import for me to know! –  Kyle Brandt Aug 7 '09 at 13:20
    
I had no idea that this was a bad idea! It's common practice where I work to store a pst on a file server as we have limited storage on the Exchange servers and we are told to store nothing locally. I don't have a problem with speed but could be really be hammering the network. However, we do keep our inboxes on exchange so that may make a difference. I've first hand experience of corrupting my pst file due to losing my network connection but because it was being stored on a backed up file server and inbox on exchange the impact was minimum. –  PaulPlum Aug 7 '09 at 14:38

I can't test this right now, but what if you placed the PST in a read-only folder? This should prevent outlook from creating the file lock which may allow more then one person to open it. They'll likely get weird errors but it might work. This assumes they only need to read from it and not update anything.

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1  
Outlook won't open a PST that's read-only. –  Ward Oct 16 '09 at 13:46

You are correct, the answer is no. Outlook locks the .pst file. You could export (via Outlook) it to something sharable. Access is an option, albeit not my favorite thing in the world.

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