Computer Guide

What is the maximum capacity for Outlook Express inbox?

by George Skarbek - 11 March 2008

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Q: What is the maximum capacity for Outlook Express inbox?

A: I receive quite a lot of jokes etc via email, usually with large attachments.  If I don't delete them, will my Outlook Express inbox finally reach maximum capacity?  Or if I create a new folder not in the inbox, but within Outlook Express in Local Folders, and move the emails into that, will my inbox then be emptied?

Q: The maximum file size of the .dbx files used by Outlook Express is 2 GB. However, I recommend that even before the inbox starts approaching half of this size, you should create a new folder for the jokes. Then move all jokes into that folder.  The reason for this is that if the inbox is very large, the performance may deteriorate significantly. The actual deterioration will depend on the speed of your CPU and the memory (RAM) available.

The moving is best done by creating a rule if the mail comes from the same  individuals. To set up a rule in Outlook Express, click on Tools, Message Rules, Mail and New. Then select the Condition for incoming mail and in the action is to Move to a specified folder. You can then apply this rule to the existing mail.

When you move mail from mailboxes the actual data still remains in the original mailbox. The dbx file is a database and the pointers to where the messages start are removed, but not the data itself. You have to compact the folders to actually remove all the deleted junk.  This is done from Outlook Express. Click on File, Folder then Compact All Folders and now this process will free the space. This process may take a few minutes to complete and must not be interrupted.


Dual operating systems

Q: My problem is that, in conducting basic computer classes for seniors (as a volunteer through the University of the Third Age in Sydney), I'm about to run into the problem of students who will have bought new computers with Vista installed (The ones used in class have XP Home.) It therefore occurred to me that, for a start, I might be able to install Vista alongside XP Pro on my home computer (it's rated at 3.0 GHz and has 1 GB memory operating on dual channel). That way I could at least see what the differences are and answer some of the student questions that will inevitably arise. If the dual operating system can be accomplished satisfactorily, I would very much appreciate it if you could give me some advice on how to do it.

A: A dual boot system is certainly possible and my test computer has XP & Vista on it.  However, setting up a dual boot system requires a separate partition or drive and some care not to destroy your existing operating system.

In my opinion a better and much easier way is to install Virtual PC 2007 and run Vista in it. Using this method there are no re-boots required when changing operating systems. I can run DOS 6, Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000 simultaneously on my XP system. On the Windows 98 I have Office 97 for the very occasional question about old versions of Word etc.

Virtual PC used to cost over $200 a few years ago but now it is free from Microsoft. This product is quite easy to install and use. See for a demonstration of how this works and to download this excellent and free product.

Excel columns problem

Q: I have encountered a problem with Excel. When either a new or existing worksheet is opened the columns are now in a number format i.e. 1,2,3,...... I don't know how this happened, how can I get back to the traditional format of columns in alpha order?

A: This is one of the options that Microsoft allow you to set but I have not seen any of my clients or friends actually use it. To revert back to the traditional style, from Excel click on Tools, Options and click on the General tab and there remove the tick from the “R1C1 Reference style” and your problem will be fixed.

I suggest that you look at some other the other settings that you may like to change. For example setting the Recently Used File List to 9 is something that I prefer. If your computer exhibits some instability you may consider setting Autorecover to 5 minutes.


To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here