What happens to files that are `compacted'

ASK HIM

October 05, 2006|By James Coates

While using Outlook Express 6, it occa- sionally offers to compact folders to reduce space on my hard drive. What happens to the folders when they are "compacting"? What does this process do?

Where do the removed files go? Also, I can't find my Outlook Express folders stored on my C drive searching for DBX files, so what extension is OE6 using to store e-mails? A good explanation of the "compacting" process would be welcome.

- Jim Wren, columbus.rr.com

Quickly stated, compacting a database gets done in most information collecting software, including Outlook Express with its databases of address books, e-mail messages and such.

Compacting is akin to compressing material as is done with Zip files, but it gets done to the actual database files rather than creating a squeezed version as with those Zip folders designated as compressed archives by an icon depicting a carpenter's C clamp.

The DBX extension is given to the files holding e-mail data that can be compacted if desired for space gain. Figure a 1-gigabyte file will shrink by 300 megabytes if compacted. One gig is a huge lot of e-mail messages, however, and 300 mb amounts to peanuts on PCs with 100-gb hard drives.

Finally, the Windows file and folder system includes several empty folders that look as if they are the correct one for storing the DBX files that contain the actual mail data. The trick to finding the correct address for that folder is to give a right-click to the icon for the inbox and select Properties from the pop-up menu.

There you will see an address showing the folder starting out C:/Documents and Settings. Click the mouse cursor in front of the C, then hold down the left mouse button and drag to the end of the address. Then tap Control + C to copy the address.

Now right-click on the Start button and select Explore. In the file finder this brings up, Select the Entire Text in the address box at the top.

Now tap Control + V to paste the address of the inbox folder into the address bar. Now you need to use your mouse to get to the end of the address and remove the last entry ending in DBX - in my case this was "Hotmail-Inbox.dbx." Click in the box at the end and use the Delete key to remove that last bit, and then you can click on Go to call up the folders holding your database files.

I am running Windows XP and when I open an e-mail (I am using Outlook Express) that has a Web site included in the text, I cannot open it. When I click on this referenced site nothing happens. What do I need to do to be able to open it?

- Bob Simons, Santa Clara, Calif.

You just need to change a setting in your e-mail software and those embedded Web addresses will come to life. Users of Outlook Express can choose to accept e-mail either as ordinary text or in a format called HTML, which is the language used to create Web sites, including their addresses.

When HTML e-mail is accepted, a message will display much like a Web site with fancy fonts, pictures and other fripperies. And, if you click on a live address in an HTML message from somebody nasty, nasty stuff can occur.

You can move between HTML and text e-mail by clicking on Tools and then Options in Outlook Express. Select the tab for Read in the menu that pops up. You will find a check box to toggle reading in plain text or HTML. If you get into HTML by doing this, you can always change your settings under the accompanying Send tab from text to HTML as well.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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