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Tutorial: How to Backup Outlook

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Do you use Microsoft Outlook that came with Microsoft Office? Have you ever lost all of your e-mails, contacts, folders, etc. just because you had to uninstall and re-install Office, or because you had to reformat?

Well, lose them no more with my handy-dandy do-it-yourself Outlook Backup Tutorial!

This is quite a simple process, really, and many of you reading might be saying "yeah, I figured that out a long time ago." Well, this is intended for users who don't know, and don't know how to go about figuring this out.

Before I begin my short tutorial, I wish to state that Office XP Professional is the latest I've used, and I first tested this with 100% success on Office 2000 Premium, although it works equally well for both versions. I believe it even works for Outlook97 and 98, but I don't remember if I knew about this back then!

For users with two or more hard drives:
  1. Create a special place on your other hdd. For me, I have D:\\My Documents\\Backups (yep, I keep My Documents on my 2nd HDD thanks to TweakUI XP, a part of Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP)
  2. Open up C:\\Documents and Settings\\[username]\\Application Data\\Microsoft\\Outlook (use the username as it appears on the Start Menu),
  3. Alternatively, Click Start, click Run, then enter in %appdata% (or press WinKey+R, type %appdata%, press Enter. A lot faster, and a lot easier)
  4. Copy the following files:
  5. extend.dat
  6. Paste them into the special place on your other HDD (in other words, not the HDD where the OS is installed)
  7. Open up C:\\Documents and Settings\\[username]\\Local Settings\\Application Data\\Microsoft\\Outlook (or copy and paste this into the address bar in an open folder, and change "[username]" to your name as it appears on the Start Menu before pressing Enter to open it)
  8. Copy Outlook.pst and extend.dat
  9. Paste them into your special folder, but this time, create a folder inside of this special folder to separate them.
  10. Create Read Me.txt files for both of these sets of files stating exactly what to do in case you ever need to get Outlook back the way you had it.
For users with only one hdd
  1. Follow the steps above, but burn the files to a cd (or a dvd if that's all you have) using the directory structure I recommend so that the two sets of files are separated and so that you know they belong in two different locations.
  2. Take notice that all of the files the files become Read-Only once they're on the CD-ROM (however, I have not tested this with Re-Writable discs, and I am guessing that the File Attributes may not change with Re-Writables).
  3. Since they will be Read-Only on CD-R's and DVD-R's, you will need to make sure you change the attributes when you're copying these files back into these folders where they came from (which you would be doing right after installing Outlook).
  4. The easiest and quickest way is to change the attributes is to go into the folder with the backed up files in it, press CTRL+A for Select All, press ALT+Enter for Properties (or right-click on one of them and choose Properties, or simply press R after right-clicking), and then un-check the Read-Only attribute, located at the bottom of this dialog box.
I recommend that you do this now, and also right before you know you're going to lose Outlook (such as uninstallation and re-installation, or a reformat). If you don't do it right before the data loss, then you'll only have the data current as of today, or whenever you wish to do this.

Unfortunately, I haven't tried to figure out how to back up the e-mail accounts. Those are still lost. But this works for getting back all of your e-mails (Inbox, Sent, Deleted, etc.), all of your custom folders, Contacts, and maybe a few other things I haven't realized yet.

But if I do decide to try figuring out how to backup the e-mail accounts as well and am successful, I will update this thread with the files to be saved.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, please send me a private message. In particular, I hope to receive suggestions on how to improve this tutorial.

And if you have anything to add to this tutorial, then by all means, please do so.

Happy file saving!
post #2 of 5
Nice tutorial. I use this procedure to save my boss's but all the time.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you, TheEddie.

lol I suppose your boss thinks you're some kind of genius, huh?
post #4 of 5
Nice tutorial but I would think the majority of people using outlook these days are AT LEAST using 2003.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by PuffinMyLye View Post
Nice tutorial but I would think the majority of people using outlook these days are AT LEAST using 2003.
Maybe, maybe not. Either way, this is precisely why I was careful to mention that the latest version I have is 2002 (or, "XP").

Thanks anyway. I would've posted this sooner, but I'm relatively new here.
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