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Free tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office and Windows

Free Online Microsoft Training

Free tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office and Windows

Back up your Email folder in Outlook

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I’ve now published several articles where I discuss the importance of backing up the data on your computer (See Backing up your files – a vital step to securing your data); and part of that process should also include backing up the email content you have within Outlook.

Whether you use Microsoft Outlook for personal use or access it for work, your email often contains important correspondence, attachments, photos and information that should be backed up and kept safe. I know personally if I lost my email content I would be devastated.

Whenever you perform a backup of your computer you should always ensure that the Data file (or PST File as it is also referred to) from your Outlook profile is included in that process. If it is not or you want to back up just your email file then let’s take a look at the process.

To back up your Data file, follow these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook
  2. Click the File tab and choose Account Settings > Account Settings
Backup your Email within Outlook
  1. From the Account Settings dialog box, click the Data Files tab
  2. You will now see a list of the Data Files (or .pst files) being used as part of your Outlook profile
  3. The file marked with the tick icon will identify the default Data File where any new email is being delivered and stored
Back up email within Outlook
  1. In the Location column, note the file path on a piece of paper for each of the files being used within your email profile
  2. Often you will find that Outlook has created the file in an obscure location or the default location for your version of Microsoft Windows.
  3. Now you will need to open File Explorer, press Windows Key + E on the keyboard
  1. Navigate to the file location as noted above and locate the file which should have a .pst file extension
Back up email within Outlook
  1. If you cannot find a folder which is referenced in the file path, it may be a hidden system folder. To adjust your Windows settings so that hidden files and folders are displayed, follow these steps: Open File Explorer, click the View tab and then click Options.
  2. From the Folder Options dialog box click the View tab and now make sure Show hidden files, folders, and drives is selected from the Advanced settings list.

Tip: If you cannot see the file extension for any of the files on your computer, you can change this setting through the same area however untick the box for Hide extensions of known file types

  1. Click OK  to save the change and you should now be able to navigate to locate a folder which was previously hidden
  2. You should be able to see your Outlook .pst file within File Explorer

Add your Data File to your backup routine

Now that you have identified where your email file(s) is located on your computer, you have two options to back up:

  1. Add the file path of your Data File (PST) to your normal backup routine so that the file is included in future backup schedules
  2. Close Outlook and manually copy the .PST file from the location specified into a folder which is already included in your regular backup schedule such as the Documents folder. You can also directly paste the file onto an external drive or storage option – this is not ideal as it relies on you doing this manually, much better to have this process automated where possible.

Backing up your PST file is easy once you are able to identify the file path and location. If you require assistance on how to backup your computer, check out my blog post. Comment below if you have any questions.


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