Troubleshooting Outlook Mailbox Cleanup Not Working

Experiencing issues with Outlook mailbox cleanup? To help users to troubleshoot Outlook Mailbox cleanup not working, Explore the causes behind this problem and unlock effective solutions to restore functionality.


By Sebastian Updated on April 15, 2024

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Struggling with Outlook mailbox cleanup issues can be frustrating, especially when essential features fail to work as expected. Whether it's difficulties in deleting old emails or problems with auto-archive settings, these issues can disrupt productivity and hinder effective email management. Recognizing the significance of resolving such challenges, this article aims to provide comprehensive guidance on troubleshooting Outlook mailbox cleanup problems. By exploring common causes and offering practical solutions, readers will gain valuable insights into restoring functionality to their Outlook environment and optimizing email management practices. Let's delve into the methods and strategies to address Outlook mailbox cleanup issues effectively.

Common Causes of Outlook Mailbox Cleanup Failure

In the fast-paced world of email management, Outlook's mailbox cleanup feature serves as a valuable tool for keeping your inbox organized and clutter-free. However, users may encounter situations where the cleanup function fails to operate as expected, leading to frustration and inefficiency. In this article, we delve into the common reasons why Outlook mailbox cleanup may not be working and provide step-by-step guidance to troubleshoot and resolve these issues effectively.

Microsoft Exchange Server

Overloaded Mailbox: A cluttered inbox with a large number of emails, attachments, and folders can overwhelm the mailbox cleanup tool, causing it to malfunction.
Outdated Outlook Version: Running an outdated version of Outlook may lead to compatibility issues with the mailbox cleanup feature, hindering its proper functioning.
Corrupted Outlook Data Files: Damaged or corrupted Outlook data files, such as PST and OST files, can disrupt the cleanup process and prevent it from completing successfully.
Insufficient System Resources: Limited system resources, including disk space and memory, can impede the execution of mailbox cleanup tasks, resulting in errors or failures.
Conflicting Add-Ins or Plugins: Third-party add-ins or plugins installed in Outlook may conflict with the mailbox cleanup functionality, causing it to malfunction or become unresponsive.

By addressing these underlying causes, users can effectively troubleshoot Outlook mailbox cleanup issues and restore its functionality to streamline email management tasks.

Resolving Outlook Mailbox Cleanup Not Working

Discover step-by-step solutions to resolve Outlook mailbox cleanup not working issues and streamline your email management process.

👉 Bonus: Professional Outlook Email Auto Backup and Cleanup Software

Method 1: Update Outlook to the Latest Version

Before everything, you should check if you are using the latest version of Outlook. Updating Outlook ensures compatibility with the latest features and fixes, enhancing overall performance and stability.

In the meantime, you should know that the update process may take some time, and users may need to restart Outlook, temporarily interrupting workflow.

Open Outlook: Launch the Outlook application on your computer.

Navigate to File: Click on the "File" tab located in the top-left corner of the Outlook window.

Check for Updates: Select "Office Account" from the left-hand menu, then click on "Update Options" followed by "Update Now" to check for and install any available updates.

Follow Installation Instructions: If updates are found, follow the on-screen instructions to download and install them.

Restart Outlook: Once the updates are installed, restart Outlook to apply the changes.

Method 2: Review Mailbox Cleanup Settings

Incorrect or outdated settings can often lead to issues with mailbox cleanup functionality. Follow these steps to review and adjust your mailbox cleanup settings:

Review Mailbox Cleanup Settings

Navigate to Mailbox Cleanup: Open it and click on the "File" tab at the top left corner of the Outlook window. From the drop-down menu, select "Options."

Access Mailbox Cleanup Settings: Click on the"Advanced" tab. Scroll down to the "Outlook start and exit" section. Click on the "AutoArchive Settings..." button.

Review AutoArchive Settings: Review the settings for archiving old items. Ensure that the "Run AutoArchive every" option is enabled and set to a frequency that suits your needs. Check the location where archived items are stored and adjust it if necessary.

Adjust Cleanup Tools: Return to the Outlook Options window and navigate to the "Mail" tab. Under the "Mailbox Cleanup" section, click on the "Mailbox Cleanup..." button.

Review Cleanup Tools: In the Mailbox Cleanup window, review the various cleanup tools available, such as finding items older than a certain number of days, emptying the Deleted Items folder, and viewing the size of your mailbox. Adjust these settings as needed to optimize your mailbox cleanup process.

Method 3: Clear Cache and Temporary Files

Clearing cache and temporary files can help resolve issues with Outlook mailbox cleanup. Follow these steps to clear the cache and temporary files:

Clear Cache and Temporary Files

Close Outlook: Ensure that Outlook is closed to prevent any conflicts.

Access File Explorer: Open File Explorer on your computer.

Navigate to Temporary Files: Go to the location where temporary files are stored. Typically, this is in the "Temp" folder within your user directory. You can also access it by typing "%temp%" in the Windows search bar.

Select All Files: Press "Ctrl + A" to select all files in the temporary folder.

Delete Selected Files: Right-click on the selected files and choose "Delete" from the context menu.

Empty Recycle Bin: After deleting the temporary files, empty the Recycle Bin to permanently remove them from your system.

Method 4: Repair Outlook Data Files

Repairing Outlook data files can help fix issues related to mailbox cleanup. Follow these steps to repair Outlook data files:

Repair Outlook Data Files

Close Outlook: Ensure Outlook is closed to prevent conflicts during the repair.

Access Control Panel: Open the Control Panel from the Start menu.

Navigate to Mail Settings: Locate and access the "Mail" settings within the Control Panel.

Select Data Files: In the Mail Setup dialog box, select the Outlook data file (PST) you wish to repair.

Initiate Repair: Click on "Settings" and choose the "Repair" option to start the repair process.

Follow Repair Wizard: Proceed through the Repair Wizard prompts to scan and fix errors in the Outlook data file.

By following these simplified steps, you can effectively repair Outlook data files and resolve mailbox cleanup issues. Of course, you can always try to fix this problem by reinstalling MS Outlook or changing your computer system. You can choose to clone the system to quickly meet the needs.

Bonus: Professional Outlook Email Auto Backup and Cleanup Software

In addition to the above solutions to Outlook email cleaning problems, here we will also recommend you use a professional email automatic backup and cleaning tool to avoid further problems from mailbox cleanup. AOMEI Backupper Professional seems like a great choice in backup software.

AOMEI Backupper Professional provides a strong Outlook backup functionality, ensuring users have a secure solution for their email backup requirements. Simply log in to your Outlook account and automate regular backups and cleanups using this built-in feature. With just a few clicks, you can effortlessly back up all files from your Outlook mailbox. Additionally, it offers customizable backup options such as full, incremental backup and differential backup, catering to users' specific needs for achieving a selective backup of desired content.

► With its intuitive interface, data backup becomes effortless through simple steps.
► Apart from email backup, it encompasses various backup types such as like system backup, disk backup, file backup, partition backup, and cloud backup, fulfilling diverse data backup needs.
► It accommodates a broad range of storage devices, including internal/external hard drives, USB drives, SSDs/HDDs, and SD cards, ensuring compatibility with various storage options.
► This versatile tool operates seamlessly on all Windows OS versions, from Windows 11 to XP, ensuring smooth functionality across different platforms.

Download AOMEI Backupper right now and discover the effortless way to automate Outlook backups and cleanups.

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1. Begin by logging into your Outlook account, then launch AOMEI Backupper and navigate to the Backup section, followed by Outlook Backup.

Outlook Backup

2. Select Add Outlook Data and choose the desired email account along with the specific mailbox you wish to back up. After making your selection, click OK to confirm.

Add Gmail

3. Now, specify the destination path where you want to store your Outlook backup files.

Select Destination

4. Lastly, set up a scheduled backup by accessing the Schedule Backup option and enabling it. Choose the frequency for automatically saving your email backups, whether it's Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or based on Event triggers.

5. Once all settings are configured, click Start Backup to initiate the task.

To set Mail backup auto-cleanup, use the backup scheme feature. It provides three backup modes and four auto-cleanup options by day/week/month, facilitating efficient storage space management.

backup cleanup

FAQs on Outlook Mailbox Cleanup

Q1: Why is my Outlook mailbox cleanup not deleting old emails?

A1: Outlook mailbox cleanup may fail to delete old emails due to various reasons, such as corrupted data files, insufficient system resources, or conflicting settings.

Q2: Is there a limit to the number of emails Outlook mailbox cleanup can delete at once?

A2: The number of emails that Outlook mailbox cleanup can delete at once depends on various factors, including system resources, mailbox size, and configuration settings.

Q3: Will repairing Outlook data files affect my existing emails or folders?

A3: Repairing Outlook data files should not affect your existing emails or folders. However, it's always recommended to back up your data before performing any repair actions.


In conclusion, encountering issues like Outlook mailbox is not functional can disrupt email management tasks and hinder productivity. However, by following the methods outlined in this article, users can effectively troubleshoot and resolve these issues, restoring functionality and efficiency to their Outlook environment. Whether it's updating Outlook, repairing data files, or disabling conflicting add-ins, there are various solutions available to address mailbox cleanup problems.

For a comprehensive and reliable backup solution, consider utilizing AOMEI Backupper, a third-party tool that offers robust features and a user-friendly interface. By implementing these solutions and best practices, users can streamline their email management processes and ensure the smooth operation of Outlook mailbox cleanup. If you have any Outlook backup-related problem like auto-save Outlook emails to hard drives, try AOMEI Backupper now to get it done in seconds.

Sebastian · Editor
Sebastian, a professional editor at AOMEI, brings personal product experience and a user-focused mindset to solve data protection issues. With valuable technical insights and a dedication to user experience, he simplifies complex concepts and provides reliable solutions. Sebastian's expertise and skills make him an invaluable resource for readers seeking technical guidance.