5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data

Saikat Basu 16-02-2009

backup microsoft outlook dataThis is another of those things that one learns from unwanted experience. If you are in the majority who has experienced a system crash, then you will empathize with the hair tearing fits that accompany the loss of saved mails, contacts and sundry email data.


For those whose preferred email client is Microsoft Outlook 2007 on a standalone machine, here are five ways to backup your Microsoft Outlook data, avoid stress and save your data. Please note that the following applies to data files only and not to toolbar settings, signature files and profile entries.

    1. Manually copy your Outlook file

      • The default location for XP is C:/Documents and Settings/%username%/Local Settings/Application Data/Microsoft/Outlook/
      • The default location for Vista is C:/Users/%username%/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Outlook/

Outlook stores all mail information in a single file with an extension “˜.pst‘. A “˜personal storage table’ file stores all account data like mails, contacts, journal, notes and calendar entries.

The PST file can also be accessed by following File – Data File Management – Select the Data File tab. Select your personal folder(s) and click on Open Folder”¦

After locating the file backing it up to any secure space like a different drive, a CD-ROM or a USB Drive is a simple process of copy-paste.

To restore the data, go to File – Open – Outlook Data File ““ Browse to the backup location and select the file. In case of an error, right-click and deselect the Read only attribute in the PST file’s Properties tab.

    1. Relocate your Outlook file

      In the same way we keep our other precious files from harm’s way by saving it in a different partition, we can also change the default location of the Outlook PST file. Here’s a walkthrough”¦

        1. Close Outlook
        2. Locate the PST file through the default path as mentioned before.
        3. Copy it to another partition.

      (As a precaution rename the PST file in the old location. For instance, change Outlook.pst to Outlook.old. In case something fails, you can return to the old file.)

      1. Restart Outlook – when the prompt comes up use the browse button to direct Outlook to the new location.
      2. Update any Wizard rules you might have customized with the new path.
    2. Import and Export helps out

      It is a 5-Step process which exports your mail folders to any designated location. Import and Export in Outlook 2007 allows you to export the entire Personal folder or selected folders to another location (or partition).

        1. Click on File – Import and Export”¦

      backup microsoft outlook files

        1. Choose Export to a file

      5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data 2 export to file

        1. Choose Personal Folder File (.pst)

      backup microsoft outlook address book

        1. Select the folder to export from – e.g. Personal Folder. Check Include Subfolders if you want to include all subfolders (like contacts) within the Personal Folder. You can set up a selective backup through a Filter to export specific messages.

      5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data 4 personal folder

        1. Choose a safe location to store the exported file. A press of the Finish button ends the job.

      5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data 5 location

To restore the data, similarly follow the wizard starting with File – Import and Export”¦- Import from another program or file – Personal Folder File (.pst) – browse to backup location and click finish.

Note: The Import and Export way is not sacrosanct because it does not backup user set settings (i.e. the folder design properties) like view options, forms, permissions, rules and alerts or auto-archive settings.

    1. The Personal Folders Backup Add-In to the rescue

The earlier steps might send the work-shy among us into a slumber. The help of a Microsoft Outlook Add-in – “˜Personal Folders Backup’ saves us a few mouse clicks. It simply creates backup copies of the PST files at regular intervals to a designated location.

With the 159KB download installed, browse to File – Backup. The Options setting in the tool lets you select the frequency of backups, the files to backup and the location to backup to.


5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data add in

The Personal Folders Backup Add-In is supported by Outlook 2007, 2003 and 2002.

    1. Go for a Third Party software

Here at MakeUseOf, we have covered a lot of ground talking about third party software’s. You can find a post on 5 Ways to Keep Your Emails backed Up 5 Ways to Backup your Email Read More and one on the Amic Email Backup tool Amic E-Mail Backup - A Good Thing in a Small Package Read More .

Third party software is warranted in situations where you have to deal with multiple clients. In my humble opinion, if you are only looking to backup Microsoft Outlook data, the above enumerated solutions can be effective safety nets.


Have you backed up your Microsoft Outlook 2007 emails yet? Do you think taking these proactive steps now will save you some heartburn later? Let us know”¦

Related topics: Data Backup, Desktop Email Client, Email Tips, Microsoft Outlook.

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  1. Imran Shabbir Adamji
    August 23, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Hi ,

    Is it possible for me to recover mails which i lost , I lost the mail while re-installing windows PST file was not taken as back-up , is there any way where by i can get back the mails which i lost ?
    I do not have the previous PST file. Any advice on this will be much appreciated.


  2. ocean
    April 12, 2016 at 8:01 am

    i could not restore from c: drive. pst file has differest log. there is two way arrow in pst file. what does it mean

  3. SHiva
    March 29, 2016 at 3:45 am

    actually i deleted my outlook pst from desktop so, can u please help me to recover

  4. mhd
    December 31, 2015 at 5:27 am

    it si very helpful to me and as well as end users

  5. mahboob bhatti
    December 17, 2014 at 10:22 am

    sir we install new windows and i also install outlook 2007 and sir we want our old outlook data. sir please help me

  6. Rateeb
    December 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Hi guys... I have a query if anyone could help this out....I am using Outlook 2007 associated to my official mail ID, but I have limited space to use over the web domain. My usage has already reached 100% and I have been instructed to delete the mails in order to have some space. Instead of deleting my important mails, I copied the Outlook data folder in another drive location and created a personal folder in Outlook associated to that newly copied Outlook data file. Then I logged into my mail from browser and deleted all the mails from Inbox as well as from Sent folder, as I thought that Outlook has already kept a copy, but when I returned to Outlook, all went wrong...All the mails were deleted from Outlook as well...But thanks to the TRASH folder which saved me...Can anyone tell me how to keep the mails even if they are deleted from my Webmail....

  7. inder
    September 28, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Can I backup/archive my outlook mails. I only use browser based outlook ?

    • Saikat
      September 29, 2009 at 12:51 am

      Hi Inder,

      I not really familiar with the Outlook web application if that's what you intend. But the client is the same desktop one isn't it? Here's the MS Help link.

  8. Dave
    August 14, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I have a question surrounding personal folders - apologies if I am posting to the wrong place.

    In outlook 2007, I created personal folders to reduce the size of my server-side mailbox, and moved several flagged items to the PST. All the items disappeared from the To-Do list, but when I go and look in the folder they are still flagged, but are not listed in the To-Do bar - how can I bring these back into the To-Do list?

    Many thanks

    Dave Morgan

  9. Connie
    May 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I was so glad to hear about the Outlook Add-In "personal files update"! I downloaded it and clicked the save backup button, but when I try to navigate to the backed up files (to confirm it actually did it) it tells me it can't open the folder. How do I know it actually, thoroughly completed the backup?

    Thanks so much!

  10. Scott
    March 27, 2009 at 2:00 am

    My favorite way, attach another pst file to outlook, then drag or move a copy of all the folders down to this pst.
    Then detach it.

    Not convenient for daily backup but very useful if you need to give these folders and emails to a coworker.
    My huge file with hundreds of folders transferred/backed up nicely this way.

  11. jeff
    March 17, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    2 reasons... first, you can't set categories from the compose window... there is no button for that. this toolbar enables that. Second, when you set a reminder with outlook you have to set a followup time, you cna't simply create a reminder date/time. This makes it much simplier.

    • Saikat
      March 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Jeff,
      Sorry for the late reply...but thanks for the info. I get your point.

  12. Saikat
    February 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Nopes, I haven't used it. But why use a plug-in when Outlook has its own one click reminder flags?

  13. CJW
    February 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    What do you think of Outlook Track-It? It's not for data backup but its been an amazing addon to flag emails for followups. I love it.

  14. BacarliW
    February 25, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks for the backup tip! Have you used Out-look Track it? That's my personal tip as far as plugins. Its a small toolbar that flags emails for followup reminders. Free download is on the site..

  15. Lyn
    February 20, 2009 at 10:44 am

    This is helpful. I transfer all my email files to my laptop when I travel (I'm away for weeks at a time) then transfer them back again when I get home. Sometimes it gets messy. Normally I just overwrite (as the files are of course intact on the computer I have just copied them from), but sometimes need to import to get Outlook to "see" the revised file.

    Also it seems to be easy to get duplicate contact lists. Not sure how that happens!

    Question. Is there an easy way to transfer a folder containing about 20,000 articles to another format. Don't fancy copying each one separately into notebook or Word!!! I receive articles on autopilot by subscription.

    • Saikat
      February 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm

      Hi Lyn,
      Which format do you want to convert your article folder too? OE for instance can import all your messages directly.Thats the easiest way. You can also save them as a database file from within Outlook through the Import Export option. Similarly for Thunderbird too.

  16. tunghoy
    February 19, 2009 at 7:41 am

    I keep my users' primary PSTs and AutoArchive PSTs in a folder called Outlook in their Documents folder (or elsewhere on their data drives). That way, the nightly and weekly backup routines always have copies of their data.

    Keeping PSTs in a folder 5 levels deep on the C drive is asking for trouble.

  17. jo
    February 17, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    None of this backs up the email address in Outlook. Outlook Express at least have a way to export the email address. How do you do this in Outlook?

    • Saikat
      February 18, 2009 at 2:30 am

      Fortunately, Jo...all these methods are well tried and tested and do back up the Contacts folder in Outlook. About Exporting email contacts from Outlook to another program, use the Import and Export feature from the File menu. Export as a Comma Separated Values and then you can import this into most programs including those in Mac.
      You are probably interchanging the words BackUp and Export. Both are different functions.

      • jo
        February 18, 2009 at 8:10 am

        When you backup or export, this does not backup the email accounts. I was not referring to the Contacts but the email accounts.

        • Saikat
          February 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

          Sorry I misunderstood. In case of Outlook,the email account configurations are stored in the Registry and not in the pst file. Try this method -
          1. Start > Run > type regedit
          2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles\Outlook
          3. Right Click on the key and select the Export option. Save it as a reg file.
          4. When needed double click on the file and confirm. The registry settings get imported into the registry.But be careful while handling the registry. Always make a backup.

          Or alternatively - Import it in OE and then save it as an internet account file. Oulook can import this file.

  18. Saikat
    February 17, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Hi Jash,

    I haven't used Entourage. I think it's a Mac mail client isn't it. But it's very easy to import into Thunderbird from Outlook [Tools - Import]Follow the wizard.

  19. Jash Sayani
    February 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I have a question here: Can I export Outlook mails to a format, Entourage mails to the same format, and import both of them into Thunderbird ?

    Will I have all my mails with downloaded images, etc. (As my current Outlook and Entourage databases already have images downloaded) ?