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Which file is better MBOX or PST file?

Written By
Nick Rogers
Published On
April 10th, 2023
Reading Time
7 Minutes Reading

Summary: In this blog, we will go over both the MBOX and PST file formats. And we’ll try to figure out which is better: MBOX or PST file.

To evaluate which file format is better, it depends on what our needs are.

MBOX is the most common format for storing email messages and is used by many email clients, such as Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and Eudora.

PST is a proprietary format used by Microsoft Outlook. MBOX is a more open format, so it can be used with a wider variety of email clients. PST is better for backing up emails and preserving their formatting.

Advantages of Using MBOX than PST File

The main advantages of using MBOX files over PST files are:

  1. MBOX files are more widely supported than PST files. Most email clients and services support MBOX files, whereas PST files are only supported by Microsoft Outlook.
  2. These files are easier to transfer and share. They can be sent as an attachment or uploaded to a cloud storage service. Users can easily share MBOX files by converting them using 4n6 MBOX Converter.
  3. MBOX files are more secure than PST files; they are not encrypted, so they are more accessible in comparison to the proprietary PST file format.
  4. These files are easier to search and index. They contain information about each message, such as sender, recipient, date, subject, and message body, which makes it easier to find specific emails.
  5. MBOX file format saves more disk space than PST file format. As Outlook Data file stores more metadata in comparison to MBOX file.

Are MBOX or PST Files Safe?

Both MBOX and PST files can be vulnerable to hacking attempts. MBOX files are not encrypted, so they are more vulnerable than PST files, which are encrypted. To help protect your files, you should use a strong password and set up twofactor authentication if possible. You should also use a trusted antivirus program to scan your files for viruses or malware. To safeguard your computer against any accidental ransomware attack, make sure you do not execute or open any macro enabled document files.

MBOX files are less prone to corruption, whereas PST files are more susceptible to corruption. Even if a single byte is lost from a PST file, it will be damaged. However, in the case of MBOX files, if the same thing happens, we will only lose a single email message or just a part of an email message. So, users prefer MBOX over Outlook Data files to safeguard against any data loss due to file corruption issues, and it’s also advisable to store email messages in this files for backup and archiving purposes.

MBOX file is an open source file format, so you can create it using free email applications. You can use any software, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, to create an MBOX file. However, PST files require a commercial email application, such as Microsoft Outlook, to be created.

Are There Any File Size Limitations for MBOX and PST Files?

Yes, there are file size limitations for MBOX and PST files. The MBOX file size limit is generally 25GB, while the PST file size limit is generally 50GB. However, these limits can vary depending on the email client being used.

Lets Compare File Compression in MBOX and PST File

MBOX and PST are both file formats used to store emails.

  • MBOX is an open source format that is widely used, mostly in Unix and Linux systems. It is a single file that stores emails in plain text format. It is relatively easy to compress and decompress files in MBOX format, as it is a flat file format.
  • PST is a closed source format created by Microsoft. It is a proprietary format that is used by Microsoft Outlook to store emails. It is a more complex file format than MBOX, as it stores emails in a database structure. Compressing and decompressing files in PST format is more difficult, as it requires specialized software and can be timeconsuming.

Do MBOX Files Store Images and Attachments of Emails?

Yes, MBOX files store images or file attachments of emails. MBOX files store the body of the email message, header information, and other metadata. To access images and file attachments, you would typically need to use software that can extract and display the contents of the file attachments.

How PST Files Stores Emails Differently than MBOX File?

PST files are Outlookspecific files that are used to store emails, contacts, calendar items, tasks, and other data within the Outlook application. PST files are typically used to store data from an Exchange server, which is then imported into Outlook. These files are not easily transferable to other applications and have a maximum size limit of 50GB. MBOX files are a standard format used to store email messages in a single file.

MBOX files are designed to be easily transferable between different email applications, and have no maximum size limit. MBOX files store email folders as individual files, whereas PST files store emails and email folders as part of a single file. This makes MBOX files easier to access and transfer than PST files

Does MBOX Stores More Email Metadata than Outlook Data Files?

No, MBOX and PST files store the same amount of email metadata.

Discuss About File Structure of MBOX and PST File?

MBOX is a plaintext file format that stores emails in a single file. Emails are stored in the file as plain text, each separated by a special character sequence. The structure of an MBOX file is very simple, with each email placed in its own line, with no headers or metadata associated with it.

PST files are a proprietary file format used by Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server. PST files store emails, contacts, calendar entries, and other data in a structured way. The structure of a PST file is more complex than an MBOX file, with each email having associated headers and metadata.

Which is Easier to Access Programmatically?

MBOX is generally considered to be easier to access programmatically than Outlook Data . MBOX files are plain text files, so they are easier to parse and work with than PST files, which are binary files.

Can I Open and Delete Emails Manually from MBOX and PST File?

Yes, you can open and delete emails manually from both.

To open MBOX files, you can use any text editor application. MBOX files store multiple emails in a single file. The emails are stored in plain text format, with each email being separated by From line header. The emails are also stored in the same order that they were sent, making it easy to find emails from a certain sender or within a certain timeframe.

To open PST files, you need to take help of Microsoft Outlook application. Once the PST files are open in Outlook, you can manually delete emails. Text editors don’t work with it because they are binary files and not text files.


In conclusion, both MBOX and PST file formats have their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the user‘s needs, either file format can be used effectively. MBOX is good for transferring large amounts of data, while PST is better for archiving data. Ultimately, it is up to the user to decide which file format is better for their needs.