Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup

Martin Brinkmann
May 12, 2008
Updated • Mar 27, 2014
Backup, Email

Backing up your email accounts regularly is a pretty important task and a safety measure in case something goes wrong and you cannot access the account anymore. Most users collect emails over the years and keep them just like they would keep letters that have been sent to them by friends and relatives.

Losing those emails, apart from business correspondences, account information and recipes, would be an irreparable loss without a backup on another drive or media.

This can be especially problematic if web mail is used exclusively as you do not have control over mail stored on a remote server.

Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup is a backup application designed by Microsoft to backup Personal Folders Files, also called .pst files. It is compatible to Outlook 2002, 2003 and 2007 and every operating system these have been designed for.

A pst file includes Outlook folder data and the mails those folders include:

Each .PST file contains all of your Outlook folders, including the Inbox, Calendar, and Contacts. You can have a single .PST file (usually called "Internet Folders" or "Personal Folders" in your Folder List), but you might also have an additional .PST file that you use for archiving ("Archiving Folders"). Personal Folders Backup lets you back up any or all of these .PST files.

The program can be started with a click on File > Backup in Outlook in the program interface. A click on Options presents a list of all available .pst files of which all or some can be included in the backup. Afterwards a location for the backup has to be selected. I would suggest to burn the backup to CD or DVD, or transfer it to an external hard drive or Flash drive for extra security.

A reminder can be set as well which reminds the user every xx days that a new backup is due. The backup can then be created, or saved as it is called in the application which writes it to the location specified in the options. The same menu provides the option to load a backup into Outlook.

The backup program is not compatible with newer versions of Outlook unfortunately, but for that, you can use Mailstore Home.

Making a manual backup

Since Microsoft's program is not compatible with newer versions of Outlook, you can create a manual backup instead of the system's pst files.

Microsoft explains this in detail on the company's Knowledge Base. Basically, what you need to do is the following:

  1. Tap on Windows-R to bring up the run box.
  2. Type control panel and hit the enter key.
  3. Double-click on the mail icon, if you do not see it here, click on User Accounts first.
  4. Click Show Profiles.
  5. Select the profile and then Properties.
  6. Click on Data Files.
  7. Under Name, click the Personal Folder Service that you want to create a backup of.
  8. Click Settings and take note of the path information and file name.
  9. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the path and backup the file name there.

You can also export data from Outlook directly. The method is slightly different depending on whether you use Outlook 2010 and later, or earlier versions of Outlook.

Outlook 2010

  1. Open the program.
  2. Select the File tab.
  3. Click on Advanced in the Outlook Options.
  4. Click Export.
  5. Click Export to a file in the Import and Export Wizard, then Next.
  6. Click Outlook Data File (.pst) and then Next.
  7. Select the folder to export, click next.
  8. Select the local directory you want to save the backup to.
  9. Type a file name and click ok.
  10. Click Finish.

Earlier Outlook versions

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Select File > Import and Export.
  3. Click Export to File and then next.
  4. Select Personal Folder File (.pst) and next.
  5. Select the folder you want to export and then on next.
  6. Select the local directory you want the file to be saved to.
  7. Select a file name and click ok.
  8. Click Finish.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Starboykb said on May 13, 2008 at 2:55 am

    i didn’t know this one. maybe i am too much hotmail users. Thanks anyway incase my customers need me helping him backing up his outlook

  2. Jojo said on May 12, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    I’ve used this for years. Just remember that Outlook locks the PST file. If you are running some other apps that also hook into the PST file (like X1), you will have to shut down X1 first or PST Backup will not run.

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