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How to Backup Your Emails, Contacts, and Data in Outlook: Part 1

written by: Arvind Arora•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/31/2008

Ever been in a situation when, due to some reason, you find that all of your Outlook emails, contacts, and data has been completely lost? Wait, Outlook lets you back up and save that vital data. But before you can retrieve it, you must find out where your PC saves this information.

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    Find out where your Outlook data is saved

    The first essential thing you need to know before anything else is where your PC saves all the Outlook data useful to you. Although it depends on your version of Outlook, all versions follow one out of two basic patterns in terms of saving your emails, contacts, and data.

    Basically, Outlook uses a particular file format with the extension .pst for saving all your emails, contacts, calendars, and other data in your personal folders. This means that every personal folder you have in Outlook will have a different file ending in .pst for saving all the data from that folder.

    Now, to find these .pst or 'Personal Folder' files, you have to do the following:

    For Outlook 2003 and later versions

    • First of all, go to "File" menu, and click "Data File Management".


    • In the next screen, you will find your data folder names and their filenames in front of them. All these folders contain vital Outlook data including your emails, contacts, calendars, and other data. Out of these, just single click to highlight the folder which contains the data that you want to save. Usually, its name is "Personal Folders".


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    • After highlighting the folder name, click "Open Folder" at the top of the Window pane. The folder containing your .pst file will be opened for you.


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    For Outlook 2002 and earlier versions

    • Right-click in "Outlook Today" in the folder list.
    • From the pop-menu that will appear, select "Properties>Advanced".
    • Under "Path", you will find the path leading to the folder that contains the .pst file pertaining to your Outlook emails, contacts, calendars, and other data.
    • Leave out the exact filename ending in .pst and select and copy the whole path to the designated folder. Usually, it will be something like "C:\­Documents and Settings\­\­Application Data\­Microsoft\­Outlook\­outlook.pst", out of which you have to select only "C:\­Documents and Settings\­\­Application Data\­Microsoft\­Outlook", and copy it by pressing the Ctrl+C keys on your keyboard
    • Next, click "Start>Run", and paste the folder path copied above by pressing the Ctrl+V keys on your keyboard or right-clicking your mouse.
    • Press the "Enter" key on your keyboard, or click "OK". The folder containing all your vital Outlook data will be opened for you.