How to Back Up, Restore, and Archive Data in Microsoft Outlook 2007

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Backup and Restore Data

We often hear stories of crashed computers, dead hard drives, and lost files. Though computers don’t have a human heart, they run into plenty of “health challenges” that threaten the data. No matter how well you take care of a computer, its hard drive can crash and take its valuable data with it. The operating system can go berserk creating corrupted files. Spyware, viruses, and other buggers can also do quirky things to a PC. Backing up data is one of the most important activities in managing a computer.

Backing up the PST file saves you time and provides you with a feeling of security. Better yet, save a copy of the PST file on a server or network drive that runs independently of your computer or online on a secure site. Saving a backup file to the same computer loaded with Outlook won’t help in many cases. If a hard drive crashes, for example, it affects both Outlook and the backup file.

You might try Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup tool, a free Microsoft add-in for Outlook 2002 and 2003 for backing up Outlook data to a hard drive or network server. It works with Outlook 2007. Outlook Help provides a link to the tool. Access the Backup options from the File menu. It may be worth exploring other backup applications that automatically backup all your important files, not just Outlook, to a network drive or a server.

You don’t have to use a backup tool to save your data. Instead, you can copy the PST file and save it elsewhere. Find your PST file by doing the following:

  1. Go to Account Settings from the Tools menu.
  2. Select the Data Files tab and double-click the Personal Folder you wish to backup.
  3. Put your cursor into the Filename box, click the box twice to highlight the line and Ctrl+C to copy it.
  4. Right-click the Start button and select Explore.
  5. Put your cursor into the folder location box and press Ctrl+V to paste the location of the personal folders file.
  6. Delete the PST file name (Outlook.pst, for example) and press Enter to find the PST file.
  7. Save the file to a network drive or online storage Web site.

To restore the data, do the following:

  1. Locate the backup copy of the PST file. Right-click the file and choose Copy.
  2. Right-click Start and select Explore.
  3. Find the folder where the original PST file lives (default C:\Users\[your user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst) and press Ctrl+V to paste the file.
  4. Open Outlook to confirm the data appears.

Archive Data

While it’s nice to have e-mail messages available when you need them, having too many affects performance. Professional organizers advise getting rid of things you haven’t touched in over a year. Archive items that you haven’t opened in a year or two. At least, you can always get them later if a time comes when you need them. Rather than having to do the cleaning, let AutoArchive do the dirty work.

Use AutoArchive to automatically move important but infrequently used items to an archive file and to permanently delete expired items. The following is the default location and name for the archive file:

C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Archive.pst

Archived items appear in the Archives Folder in the Outlook Folder List located in the Navigation Pane.

You may want to backup the archive file the same way as you backup the PST file. Recovering a PST file alone won’t recover your archived file. Consider backing up both files at the same time.

You can manually archive items whenever you want by doing the following:

  1. Select Archives from the File menu.
  2. Select whether to archive folders according to AutoArchive settings or select the folders and subfolders to archive.
  3. Select the date for archiving items, and click OK.

You can change the settings for AutoArchives using the following steps:

  1. Select Options from the Tools menu.
  2. Select the Other tab and click AutoArchive.
  3. Modify the AutoArchive options to suit your needs and click OK twice to close the windows.

You can turn off AutoArchive to prevent it from running on all folders. Return to AutoArchives options and uncheck the box next to “Run AutoArchive every n days.”

You may have folders with items that should stay in your Personal Folders instead of moving into the Archives Folder. To modify Outlook to skip archiving a folder, do the following:

  1. Right-click the folder and select Properties.
  2. Select the AutoArchive tab.
  3. Select Do not archive items in this folder and click OK.

For more user guides and tutorials, be sure to check out the other items in Bright Hub’s collection of Microsoft Outlook tips and tricks.