Restore an Outlook PST Contacts and Emails File

It's simple to restore data and recover Outlook contacts and emails

Detail of a back-up disc and a marker on a laptop
Daniel Diebel / Getty Images

Outlook stores emails, address book entries, and other data in a PST (Outlook Personal Information Store) file. If you made a backup of the PST file or need information from a different PST file, restore it through Outlook. Losing this information can be scary, but Outlook makes it really simple to restore the data so that you can recover your Outlook contacts and emails.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; and Outlook for Office 365.

Restore an Outlook PST File for Mail, Contacts, and Data

If you have a backup copy of a PST file and want to restore the data in the PST file, import the backup PST file. You can use this backup PST file to restore the Outlook data to the same computer, to a different computer, or to a different email account.

  1. Go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export. In Outlook 2007 and 2003, go to File > Import and Export.

    Viewing the Open and export options within Outlook.
  2. Choose Import from another program or file, then select Next.

    Selecting an action to perform withing the Import and Export wizard.
  3. Choose either Outlook Data File (.pst) or Personal Folder File (PST) depending on the version of Outlook you use, then select Next.

    Selecting the type of file to import.
  4. Select Browse to find and select the PST file that you want to import data from.

    Outlook may check for a backup.pst file in the \Document\Outlook Files\ folder. Select Browse to change where it searches.

    Searching for a PST to import.
  5. Choose one of the following:

    • Replace duplicates with items imported: Imports all data and replaces data in the existing PST file that is the same.
    • Allow duplicates to be created: Imports all data and creates a duplicate of items that are the same. Every email and contact is imported even if these items are in the existing PST file.
    • Do not import duplicates: Data that matches the existing file is not imported.
    Choosing to replace duplicates during the import of a PST.
  6. Choose Next.

  7. Select the folder to import from (optional), whether to Include subfolders, and where to import. Select Filter to filter certain emails to import.

    Finishing up importing a PST file into Outlook.
  8. Once you set the import settings, select Finish.

If you do not have a backup copy of your Outlook data and want to recover the PST file, use a file recovery program and search for .PST as the file extension.

How to Add a New PST Data File to Outlook

If you want to restore a PST file into Outlook and use it as another data file, add the PST file as a second account along with the default one.

  1. Go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings.

    Selecting account settings within Outlook.
  2. In the Account Settings dialog box, go to Data Files.

    Going to Data Files to add a new PST.
  3. Select Add to add another PST file to Outlook.

  4. Choose Outlook data file (.pst) and select OK.

    Selecting the option to create a new PST in Outlook.
  5. Select the location of the PST, choose the file name, then select OK.

    Naming the new PST and selecting a location to save it.
  6. Highlight the PST file and select Set as Default to make it the new default data file.

    Setting the PST as the default.
  7. Select Close.