I am looking for a way to write-protect Outlook PST files, so that one cannot accidentally delete mails from or add mails to the PST file. The file is an archive and shall be accessible read-only from Outlook.

Simply write-protecting the file on file-system level does not work since Outlook refuses opening the file.

  • +1, this sounds interesting and something I would want! – Urda Feb 19 '10 at 14:10

I think you might be out of luck. Microsoft actually has an official stance on this.


You would need a third party solution like nearpoint. I would instead suggest you to not use PST files and keep the mail on the exchange server. This will allow you to use mailbox permissions to protect the email in question.

  • This is not possible due to mailbox quota. The PST file in question is 3.6 GB. Thanks anyhow for the feedback – Bernd Feb 19 '10 at 16:05
  • I'd up the quota. If someone has 3.6 Gb of business critical mail should it be on a desktop? – Jim B Feb 19 '10 at 16:49
  • Can you add a separate mail store for housing "archived messages", make mailboxes there, have, say, a quarterly archive process, then back the mail store up once per quarter after the archive process is complete and exclude the archive from backups/snapshots, put it on a lower priority volume, etc.? – austinian Dec 12 '14 at 19:02
  • Yes you can set retention policies and there are multiple solutions for archiving mailboxes without using dark datastores like PST files – Jim B Dec 12 '14 at 21:11
  • Sorry, forgot to preface my question with @Bernd, as it was supposed to be a suggestion rather than a general question. – austinian Dec 12 '14 at 23:00

Instead of using PST files per-se you can use a regular Exchange mailbox, or "archive mailbox", and then apply a retention hold to that mailbox. The result is an online PST that you can't delete messages from.

Alternatively, create the mailbox, and then set permissions on all the folders to "read only". Users can browse, but never edit or delete the messages.

To set permissions in bulk on E2010 SP1 and newer, use Exfolders. Older releases should use PFDAVAdmin. Use this tool to set a public folder hierarchy or mailbox to read only for users that need access.

Your best approach is to use a mail enabled DL, and use that to apply readonly permissions to the mailbox, and then add users to that DL.

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