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Locate and Backup Your Address Book before Upgrading to Windows 7

written by: John Garger•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/27/2010

If you are about to plunge into the world of Windows 7, be sure to backup your most important files so you can bring them over to the new operating system. Learn how to located and save your address book in Windows XP and Vista so you can use them after you upgrade to Windows 7.

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    If you are upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP or Vista, you should locate and save your address book so you don’t lose all of your contact information. Your address book is located in a strange place so finding it will take some looking around in the complicated Windows file system. Read on to learn how to find and save your address book when upgrading to Windows 7.

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    The Windows Address Book

    Many people are unaware that the Windows Address Book is actually an application separate from Outlook Express, one of the most popular e-mail clients. As a separate application, you address book is located in a directory that may be unfamiliar to you.

    Before you can save or backup your address book, you need to locate it first. To do so, begin by logging in to Windows using an account with administrative privileges. Make sure you have Windows Explorer set to show hidden files, folders, and drives. Then, follow the directions below depending on whether you are using Windows XP or Vista.

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    Find Your Address Book in Windows XP

    Once you are logged in as an administrator and you have set Windows Explorer to show hidden files, locate the following file:

    C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book\<username>.wab

    Notice that in both cases above, you should replace <username> with the name of the account for which you want to save the address book. There may be other files in that directory but you only need the one file ending with the *.wab file extension. Also, change the drive letter from C to the drive on which you have Windows XP installed. For most people, however, this is drive letter C.

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    Find Your Contacts File in Windows Vista

    Windows Vista Contacts File Location In Windows Vista, Windows Contacts replaces the Windows Address Book application. Therefore, you need to save the contacts file rather than the *.wab file. To locate your contact file in Windows Vista, make sure you are logged in to an administrative account and that you have Windows Explorer set to show hidden files. Then, use Windows Explorer to go to this location:


    where <username> is the account for which you want to save contacts. Save the <username>.contacts file to a safe location. If you have Windows installed on a drive other than C, change the drive letter above to the one on which Windows resides.

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    Once you have either your <username>.wab or <username>.contacts file, back it up to a safe location for import into Windows 7. Note that unlike Windows XP or Vista, Windows 7 does not ship with its own e-mail client like Outlook Express or Windows mail.

    To import your contacts into Windows 7, you will first need to download an e-mail client such as Windows Live Mail or purchase an e-mail client such as Microsoft Outlook. Importing your contacts into these applications is different depending on the client. Refer to your e-mail client’s documentation to learn how to import your contacts into your new Windows 7 e-mail program.