Description The question of archiving is a interesting one that is dependant upon your own situation, how you are currently using Outlook and your personal preferences. While archiving is important, with Outlook it is often imperative to maintaining Outlook's performance.
Using Local Personal Folders (PST) files When you are using Outlook against locally stored PSTs only, the physical size of the default PST (the PST receiving messages) and the other PST files is important for maintaining Outlook performance. In earlier versions of Outlook, the maximum PST size was set at 2.0 Gigabytes, though the performance of Outlook is affected long before the 2 Gig. limit is reached. It is difficult, however, to specify an exact PST size at which performance is compromised, as this is a gradual trend and not an absolute cutoff at which point performance becomes impacted. This will depend upon a user's tolerance to slowed performance, the actual processing speed of the computer involved as well as hard disk access speeds, level of data file fragmentation on the hard disk and a host of other factors. As a general rule, without any real specifications applicable, it is better to keep PST files at or below the 1 Gig. to 1.5 Gig. area. Some users who have not noticed appreciable performance issues, or have not become aware of the cause of the performance issue, have run into the 2 Gig. limit with the accompanying troubles that ensue.
When the 2 Gig. limit is actually reached, Outlook doesn't handle the situation very gracefully. Often the user can not delete any messages from the over-sized PST since the deleted messages are only moved to the Deleted Items folder and since the file is full this is not possible. When the 2 Gig. limit is reached NEO may report a MAPI error 8004060C-I32, 'Logon Failed' or 8004060C-U08, 'Can't update object', as received from the Microsoft MAPI interface. See Knowledge Base article T1119.
In later versions of Outlook, while larger PST files are permitted, performance also decreases as the PST size increases. Archiving should be done regularly to split off older messages to maintain smaller PST files. Whether the archiving is done using the autoarchive feature in Outlook or by manual backups of messages, it is a personal preference, provided some form of archiving takes place.
Using Exchange Server Mailbox stores When you have an Exchange mailbox, archiving can become paramount. Often IT departments of corporations have limits set on the size of Exchange stores. In this case, regular archiving is imperative to maintain the mailbox size below these limits and avoid constant reminders. Archiving of Exchange stores is done from the server to locally stored PST files (archive PST). In this situation auto-archiving is ideal to ensure you maintain the appropriate size of mailbox, however, many users choose to manually archive messages on a regular basis.
Regardless of how you choose to archive, it is important to realize that this does not in any way create any off-machine backups of the PST files or the NEO catalog. This should be set up to occur regularly to permit quick recovery from disk drive or other hardware failures. Be aware that hardware failures do occur so assume they will and always stay prepared for it.
NEO catalog archiving and backups There is no export/backup facility within the NEO application that will copy the NEO catalog, or a backup of it, to an off-machine storage facility. NEO automatically creates and maintains (on each startup) a 3-tiered rolling backup of your catalog in a '...\backup' folder below the catalog folder. This allows catalog recovery in the event of database corruption or failure, which may occur. While it is not imperative to make off machine backups of the catalog folders or backup folders, it allows easier and faster recovery from catastrophic software and hardware failures. While the catalog may always be recreated using the Outlook message stores involved (as it originally was), any customizations and reorganizations that have been completed manually by the user would be lost. The catalog and backup folder can be copied to CD using a simple copy to a CD using Windows XP or by CD burning software pre-WinXP.
Off-machine backup of only the '...\backup' folder will use less storage space than backing up the entire catalog. The entire full catalog can be rebuilt from the critical catalog files in the backup folder, while all manual customizations and organizations will be preserved.
For additional information regarding NEO catalogs and maintaining them, go to NEO 'Help' or press 'F1' and on the 'Contents' tab, choose 'Catalogs' and look over the information under 'Catalog Maintenance'.