Outlook 2007 — The difference between Profiles, Accounts, and Outlook Data Files: how they interconnect

Outlook uses three structures to organize emails, contacts, calendars, tasks, and folders. These structures are Accounts, Outlook Data Files (.pst files also known as Personal Folder Files) and Profiles.

There are three main types of accounts; Exchange, IMAP and POP3. Please refer to What is POP3 and IMAP ? to review the differences between IMAP and POP3 in more detail.

Exchange, which is the most advanced, keeps your Email synchronized as well as your Contacts, Calendars, Tasks and other content. Exchange also offers useful collaborative features that make it easier to work with fellow employees. These features include co-ordinated meetings, calendars, public folders, Global Address List (GAL — contact information for all fellow staff members), etc. It also has advanced phone integration features which may be implemented in the future.

Outlook Data File
Outlook Data Files are synonymous with Personal Folder Files. These files are stored locally on the computer and can contain various objects such as email related Folders, Calendars, and Contacts. These items are only accessible from the computer on which they are located. The most common use for an Outlook Data File is to store messages that require more space on the server than you have available. In Outlook 2007 these files, by default, are called Personal Folders, but you can easily modify the name.

Profiles are available through Control Panel > Mail > Show Profiles... .


A Profile can contain more than one Account and Outlook Data File. For example, you can have a work Profile that contains both a main account and a shared departmental account for which you have permissions. You could also have a home Profile which contains more than one personal account such as one through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or a web-based email account (e.g. Gmail or Hotmail). The setup procedures for these accounts vary widely depending on the provider.

One can also have one or more Outlook Data Files open in one Profile. This can simply be done in Outlook 2007 by going to File > Open > Outlook Data File...

One can access additional Exchange Mailboxes through one Exchange account if appropriate permissions are given.  These permissions can be given through Tools>Options>Delegates.

Tags: UTORexchange
Last update:
2014-11-26 10:13
Salman Naqvi
Average rating: 2.5 (4 Votes)

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