I’ve been struggling with a larger and larger email database since I seem to have a pathological inability to ever delete anything I’ve sent or received. Last time I checked, my Microsoft Entourage email directory was over 3GB in size, which is darn huge! How do I know that? When I travel, I copy my “Microsoft Office Identity” to my laptop, so I have my entire archive and address book, including all pending mail messages. Simple, but wonderfully useful!
But much more importantly, I figured out why the directory was so enormous and cut down my mail database by over 70% with a simple command…
A few days ago I decided to explore a bit, using tips and information from the amazingly helpful Microsoft MVP web site for Entourage.
To start, I opened up the folder ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office X Identities/Main Identity and found to my horror that I had archived versions of the two key data files, Database and Database Cache. And they’re big files! The five archival copies of the Database file ranged from 650MB to 890MB. The five Database Cache files, however, were tiny and not a problem (about 20K each).
Obviously, deleting them was a smart move and quickly done. But that still left me with a Database file that was 690MB in size, just barely something that’d fit on a CD, and certainly a big chunk of data to lug around. So, the next step was to trim the mailbox itself…
Trimming the Mailbox
Entourage, like many email programs, has a very sophisticated find feature that lets you search your mail archives for just about anything, from content to date to size to sender and other recipients. On the suggestion of the MVP folk, I created a find that had the following rules, as shown in this graphic:
This produced over 1400 messages in my archive (I told you I had a lot of email saved), with an average attachment size of about 300K. Do the math, you’ll see that adds up to about 420MB or so.
With all these messages in a separate find results window, I selected them all, then choose Message -> Remove All Attachments from the menu and let it chug along for what I’d estimate was at least ten minutes. When it was done, I rebooted and forced a database rebuild (launch Entourage with the Option key down to do this) and then popped into my Office X Identity folder, to find that my new Database is only 260MB, while the old saved one from before my attachment zap was 690MB.
A huge, HUGE, improvement. Lots more space for my iTunes music archive (which is over 15GB in size), and a task well worth accomplishing occasionally if you have a mailer that has the capability and tend to save everything in your archive.
I hope that’s helpful for some other folk too!