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How to save space in your Outlook rules

Tips on how to save space in your Outlook rules and overcome the 32k rules limit barrier



Microsoft® Outlook® can run out of rules space if you are connected to Microsoft Exchange® Server (including Office 365). This problem does not happen if you are not connected to Microsoft Exchange. Note that Microsoft Exchange 2007 and higher have a limit of 64k, with the ability to increase that to 256k.

You can tell you're running out of rules space easily. When you save your rules, you'll see error messages like "One or more rules cannot be uploaded to Microsoft Exchange and have been deactivated. This could be because some of the parameters are not supported, or there is insufficient space to store all of your rules."

One or more rules 
    					  cannot be uploaded to to Microsoft Exchange and have been deactivated. This could be because some of the parameters are not supported, 
    					  or there is insufficient space to store all of your rules.

If you suffer from running out of rule space, try these 8 tips to save space.

Tip 1: Rename all your Outlook rules to have shorter names. Every byte counts! Renaming your rules to have short, pithy names saves space. You can do this with the add-in by simply double clicking in the Name field and renaming it. Moving off the Name field causes the rule to be saved.

Tip 2: Consolidate similar rules. Find Outlook rules that move messages to the same folder and combine the conditions to produce a single rule, saving space. Since the move message action is the most common rule, this can result in a big savings in rule space. Be sure to add a Stop Processing More Rules action since nothing else can be done with that message once it's moved. You can quickly find rules that involve the same folder by clicking the View By Folders button and then sorting on the Long Folder name column to group the rules by the folder being referenced.

Tip 3: Delete disabled Outlook rules. To find all your disabled rules quickly using the Power Rules Manager add-in click on the Enabled column header. This will bring all the disabled rules to the top of the grid (Note: if you see only enabled rules after clicking on the Enabled column header, then click it again to sort it the other way - if you still see nothing but enabled rules, then you don't have any disabled rules). Once you can see the disabled rules, select them by holding down the Ctrl key while you left click with the mouse, then click the Delete Rule(s) button. If you don't have the add-in, then download the free trial - you can still accomplish what you need to do since it is not limited by features, just by time (14 days).

Tip 4: Optimize rules processing. Reorder your Outlook rules to make the client side rules run last. While this tip doesn't help you to save space, it does help to make sure all your rules run. This is to allow the server side rules to all run first; if the client rules ran first, then some of the server side rules might not be given a chance to run, making it look like the rules are only running sometimes.

Tip 5: Use add-ins to replace common rules. As mentioned above, the most frequent type of rule are those that move messages to a folder either right after sending or right after receiving the message. Add-ins like the Sent Items Organizer and the Incoming Mail Organizer (or possibly even the Delete Stale Emails can be used to replace these types of Outlook rules.

Tip 6: Replace PST file paths with shorter paths. It can help if you have a lot of references to folders that rely on a PST that has a long pathname to move that PST to a place with a nice short path. Note that this tip is only useful if you are using PST files. See this Microsoft KB article for more information on how to do this.

Tip 7: Replace long lists of recipients with a distribution list, especially if you are using whitelists to avoid spam. Since the idea is to reduce the number of characters, it helps to define a distribution list of the people you want and use that short distribution list name as the parameter instead of a bunch of separately named recipients.

Tip 8: Upgrade your Exchange Server. This one is beyond the reach of most individuals, but it may be helpful and is included here for completeness: The Outlook rules limit is a total of 32k when using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 or (Exchange 2000). However if you can run Exchange Server 2007 or Exchange Server 2010 instead, the limit is doubled to 64k and there is an option that the Exchange administrator can use to further increase the rules limit to 256k to boot.

Need more information?

More tips on Outlook rules can be found at Slipstick or at MSOutlook.info.
Download a free trial version of the Power Rules Manager add-in.
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