I have many folders in Outlook Express that I would like to copy to CD to
free up hard disk space. I would like to then access them directly from the CD
in the future to read and print. I can’t get it to work. Why not?
Well, you certainly can put your email on CD. In fact, it’s a
popular way to back things up.
But in what many consider to be a really perverse “feature” of both Outlook
and Outlook Express, you can’t read your email directly from CD.
Here’s what you need to do.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Copy the CD contents back to your hard disk, and make sure the file(s) are not
Both Outlook and Outlook Express require that they be able to write to your
mail folders. Even if these are your permanent archives on which you never plan
to make any changes, they still insist that they be able to write to them.
(Technically it would be to allow them to update things like the read/unread
status of messages and the like.)
The “solution”, such as it is, is that you need to copy your mail folders
back off of the CD’s and place them on your hard disk so that the email
programs can access them.
As you can see, that puts “freeing up disk space” and “accessing your
archived email” at odds with each other. You can free disk space as long as you
don’t need to read the mail. If you need to read the mail, you can’t free up
the disk space.
able to write to your mail folders.”
There’s also a catch that gets a lot of people: when you copy a file from a
read-only media like a CD-ROM and place it on your hard disk, most frequently
the files “Read Only” status will be set on the hard disk. That means – you
guessed it – Outlook and Outlook Express still won’t be able to open
The solution is to reset the “Read Only” flag for the file.
Using an Outlook “.pst” file as an example, locate it in Windows Explorer,
and right click on the file:
Click on Properties:
Note the Read-only checkbox. If you’ve just copied the file
from CD, chances are this setting is checked. Uncheck it,
click on OK, and you should now be able to open the file in