How to Back Up or Copy Your Outlook Information

Mail, Contacts, and Other Data

Highlight all files ending in ".pst"
Highlight all files ending in ".pst". Heinz Tschabitscher

Creating a backup copy of your Outlook data (or moving it to a different computer) can be as easy as copying a single file.

Your Life in Outlook

All your email, your contacts, your calendars, and almost every other detail of your life is in Outlook. To make sure you don't lose all this in case of a hard disk crash or some other disaster, you can create backup copies of your Personal Folders (.pst) files—that's where Outlook stores all the essential data.

Back Up or Copy Your Outlook Mail, Contacts and Other Data

To create a copy of the PST files that hold most of your Outlook data (including email, calendar and contact information):

  1. Click File in Outlook.
  2. Open the Info category.
  3. Click Account Settings under Account Information.
  4. Select Account Settings from the menu that has appeared.
  5. Open the Data Files tab.
  6. For each PST file you want to archive:
    1. Highlight the data file in the Data Files list.
      • Note that OST files (files whose names—in the Location column—end in .ost) keep certain emails locally for Exchange and possibly IMAP email accounts. You can copy these OST files, but restoring data from them is not simply a matter of opening or importing the file; you can extract data from OST files using third-party tools (such as OST to PST Converter.
    2. Click Open File Location .
    3. Right-Click on the highlighted file.
    4. Select Copy from the context menu that has shown.
      • You can also click Copy on Windows Explorer's Home ribbon or press Ctrl-C.
    5. Go to the folder in which you want the backup or copy of the PST file.
    6. Select Paste from the Home ribbon in Windows Explorer.
      • You can also press Ctrl-V.
    7. Close the Windows Explorer window.
  1. Click Close in the Account Settings Outlook dialog.

What Outlook Data and Preferences Are Not Kept in PST Files?

Outlook stores most important data in PST files, but some settings are stored in separate files, which you may want to back up or copy as well.

Specifically, these files and their default locations include:

Email Signatures

  • Email signatures you have created in Outlook.
  • .rtf, .txt and .htm files (one for each format) named like the signature in the following default location:
    • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures (Windows Vista and later)
    • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures (Windows XP)

Send/Receive Profiles

  • Settings for send and receive schedules in Outlook.
  • .srs files (​Outlook.srs, for example)
    • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows Vista and later)
    • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows XP)

Email Stationery

  • Email stationery (including, for instance, background images and font settings).
  • .htm files (Garden.htm, for example)
    • \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery (Windows Vista and later)
    • \Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery (Windows Vista and later, using 32-bit Outlook)
    • \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery (Windows XP)

Message (and Other) Templates

  • Emails you have saved as templates for re-use.
  • .oft files (Template.oft, for example)
    • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates (Windows Vista and later)
    • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates (Windows XP)

    Spelling Checker Dictionaries

    • Dictionaries that contain words you do not want the Outlook spelling checker to mark as misspellings.
    • .dic files (Custom.dic, for example)
      • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\UProof (Windows Vista and later)
      • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\UProof (Windows XP)

    Outlook Print Styles

    • Printer settings (including, for example, page sizes and header or footer text) for emails you have created in Outlook.
    • OutlPrnt
      • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows Vista and later)
      • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows XP)

      Navigation Pane Settings

      • Options for the Outlook navigation pane (such as favorite folders).
      • .xml files named like the Outlook profile (Personal.xml, for example)
        • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows Vista and later)
        • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows XP)

      Versions of Outlook prior to Outlook 2010 included a few settings files more (whose information is included in PST or OST files beginning with Outlook 2010):

      Auto-Complete Lists (Before Outlook 2010)

      • Addresses suggested for email recipients in Outlook versions prior to 2010.
      • .n2k files (Personal.n2k, for example)
        • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows Vista and later)
        • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows XP)

      Email Filter Rules (Before Outlook 2010)

      • Rules for filtering messages in Outlook versions prior to 2010.
      • .rwz files
        • \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows Vista and later)
        • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows XP)

      Personal Address Book (Before Outlook 2007)

      • The address book used with Outlook versions 97, 98, 2000 and 2002.
      • .pab files
        • \Users\[user]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows Vista and later)
        • \Documents and Settings\[user]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (Windows XP)

      Back Up or Copy Your Outlook 2000–2007 Mail, Contacts and Other Data

      To create a copy of your mail, contacts, calendar and other data in Outlook for backup or copying:

      • Highlight all files ending in .pst.​
        • Make sure in particular your selection includes outlook.pst and archive.pst.
        • If you have Windows Explorer configured not to show file extensions for known formats, look for Microsoft Office Outlook Personal Folders files.
      • Select Edit > Copy from the menu to copy the selected files.
      • Open the folder where you want to put your backup copies in Windows Explorer.
        • Ideally, this will be on another computer, on a removable disk stored far away from your home, somewhere on the Internet, or at least on a different hard disk.
      • Select Edit > Paste from the menu to paste your .pst files to the backup location.

      Restore from Your Outlook Backup

      Your backup copy of Outlook data is now in place, ready to be restored when you need it.

      (Updated June 2016, tested with Outlook 2000 and 2007 as well as Outlook 2016)

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