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Backing up the Address Book

How do I make a backup of all my contacts in the Address Book in Outlook?

Button Address BookThe short and easy answer to this question is;

  • For POP3 and IMAP accounts;
    If you keep all your contacts in the Contacts folder of Outlook, simply make a backup of your main pst-file. The pst-file is the database that Outlook uses to store your mail, contacts, calendar items, tasks, notes and journal items in.
  • For Exchange accounts;
    If you are using an Exchange account, then your contacts are stored on the Exchange server which should be backed up by your email administrator. Contact him/her if you want to know the frequency of the backups. You can also use the “Backup Contacts folder only” process explained below to make a backup of your own.
  • For Outlook Hotmail Connector accounts
    While Microsoft does make backups of its Hotmail servers, you are responsible for making your own backups as well. Use the “Backup Contacts folder only” process explained below to make a backup of your own.

Note: Outlook 2002/XP, 2003 and 2007 also keeps a cache of used addresses in an nk2-file. To backup or restore these addresses see; Import contacts from an nk2-file

Backup Contacts folder only

If you keep all your contacts in the Contacts folder and you only want to backup your contacts, then you can create a separate “Backup Contacts” pst-file for this;

  1. Add a new pst-file to Outlook and name it “Backup Contacts”
    • Outlook 2007 and previous
      File-> New-> Outlook Data File…
    • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
      tab Home-> button New Items-> More Items-> Outlook Data File
  2. Select the Contacts Navigation (keyboard shortcut CTRL+3)
    If you are using Outlook 2002/XP or previous, simply select your Contacts folder.
  3. Right click the Contacts folder of which you want to make a backup and choose Copy Folder.
  4. In the dialog that pops-up, select the “Backup Contacts” folder set and press OK.
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4 for each of the contacts folder which you would like to backup (like for instance the Suggested Contacts folder).
  6. Close Outlook and make a copy of the newly created “Backup Contacts” pst-file to your backup location.

Copy to Folder dialog box
To backup only your contacts, you can copy them to a separate pst-file.

The (more) technical answer…

The Outlook Address Book cannot be backed up as such since no addresses are stored in it;

  • The Address Book in Outlook is nothing more but a container for address lists; is does not hold any addresses itself.
  • An address list is a container that holds the actual addresses. Common address lists for Outlook are;
    • Contacts folder
    • Global Address List (when using Exchange)
    • LDAP (when using another server-based directory list)

How to backup the the Contacts folder has been described at the beginning of this tip. If you have additional contact folders (such as the Suggested Contacts  folder), they can be backed up in the same way.

A Global Address List (GAL) and LDAP lists are located on the mail or directory server that you are connecting to. There is no need for you to make a backup of these address lists as they fall within the management of the server itself. If you were to reinstall your machine, these address lists are not affected and will be made available again when you reconnect to the server.

Note: Your mail administrator can help you getting the needed settings if you did not write down your account configuration settings before reinstalling.



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