Backing up Outlook Data

How do I backup Outlook Data?

Backing up Outlook is actually a really simple thing to do; just copy the pst-file to your “safe” location.

Ok, this will make you wonder some other things of course in terms of what, where and how.

What?

The pst-file is the main file Outlook will keep its data in; received items, sent items, contacts, appointments, tasks, notes and journal items are all kept in a single file. In Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, even your RSS feeds are kept in there. For an overview of what else is kept in a pst-file see: What is lost by exporting/importing pst-files?

Although I said single file, you of course can have multiple pst-files in your configuration like for instance an archive file. So with that said; make sure you backup all your pst-files.

Note: Exchange and Hotmail/Outlook.com accounts sync their data to ost-files. As the “master copy” is stored on the mail server itself, you don’t have to back up ost-files. IMAP accounts in Outlook 2013 are a special case though.

Where?

By default the pst-file is kept in the following location;

  • For Outlook 2007 and previous on Windows XP the default location is;
    C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\
  • For Outlook 2007 and previous on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 the default location is;
    C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\
  • For Outlook 2010 on Windows XP the default location is;
    C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\My Documents\Outlook Files\
  • For Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 the default location is;
    C:\Users\%username%\Documents\Outlook Files\

Note that these are hidden folders but you can directly cut & paste or type these locations in the Address Bar in Explorer to open these folders.

Another way to see where your pst-files are located, is to open Outlook and choose;

  • Outlook 2007 and previous
    File-> Data File Management…
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings-> tab Data Files

How?

Nothing special. Once you’ve located your pst-file you can copy them like any other file. Just make sure Outlook is closed.

You can also use the free Personal Folders Addin from Microsoft to locate the pst-files for you, remind you every few days and copy them to your safe location with a single click.

For additional backup and restore scenarios also see this backup guide.

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