If you own a business, you already know how important your Microsoft Outlook emails are. They're how you communicate with clients and they may also be how you get orders. You want to make sure and back up the information in your MS Outlook account so you don't lose any vital business information. If you use Microsoft Outlook for your personal needs, such as to communicate with friends and family members or for school, those emails are important too.
Many email users, even business professionals, don't think about how much information they actually store in their email system. They don't think about how to save Outlook emails until it's too late and they've already lost some information.
It doesn't have to be like that for you. If you need to learn how to backup Outlook emails, this tutorial is for you. You'll learn different Outlook backup methods ranging from how to export emails from Outlook to how to save an email in Outlook PST format and more. We'll also discuss how to back up other MS Outlook data such as contact information and more. Finally, you'll learn about a few MS Outlook add-ins that can help you backup Outlook emails.
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Before going further in learning how to use Microsoft Outlook, be sure to grab our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It's packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.
1. Why You Need Outlook Backups
You may not think about backing up your MS Outlook email messages, but you should. What if you lost access to your email account? All the email information stored in your account would be gone. If you use your Outlook email account for business, you don't want that to happen
Most commonly, people lose access to their email accounts when they forget the password. Of course, there are usually steps you can take to regain access to your email, but those can be time-consuming.
The other reason people lose access to their email accounts is because their account has been hacked. If your Outlook email account was hacked, it may be difficult for you to gain access again. If this happens and you've got a current Outlook backup file, at least you'll have your email data that you backed up.
Don’t forget to back up your most important emails separately. Some emails contain information that’s vital your business: a contract, a proposal, or even an invoice. You’ll want to take extra measures to make sure that you’ve got an extra backup of any emails with crucial business documents or discussions. We'll show you exactly how to do that in the steps that follow.
2. How to Back Up Outlook Emails Quickly (Video)
Learn how to back up Outlook Emails quickly using PST Files in this short video:
3. How to Back Up Outlook Email: Six Methods
Now that you’ve learned the importance of backing up your Outlook email information, it’s time to start learning how to do it. In this section I’ll show you six methods to back up your Microsoft Outlook email:
1. How to Export Emails from Outlook to PST format
The first way of backing up your MS Outlook email is by exporting email messages to Outlook PST format. Before we learn how to export Outlook information to this format, you may wonder: what is the Outlook PST file format and how is it different from an Outlook OST file format?
A file with a .pst extension (PST format file) is an information file used by Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange. Examples of the types Outlook email data you can save to a PST format file include:
- Email folders
- Contact information
- Address information
can access an Outlook PST file from the computer or server where the file is saved. You can also copy a PST format file to another location.
PST file is different from an .ost extension file (OST file). The Outlook OST file
format allows you to work offline with a copy of a file stored on your
Microsoft Exchange account. The file is synched up when you go back online.
1. Access the Import and Export Wizard
let’s learn how to create a backup Outlook PST files manually. Start in your
Outlook inbox, and click the File
tab. The Account Information screen
the Open & Export option:
click the Import/Export button. The system returns to your inbox and the Import and Export Wizard displays:
2. Use the Wizard to Export Emails From Outlook to PST File Format
the Export to a file option and then
click the Next> button at the
bottom of the wizard. The Wizard prompts you to select a file type:
the Outlook Data File (.pst) option.
Click the Next> button. Next,
you’re prompted to select an Outlook folder that you want to export data from:
Use the scrollbar to move up and down to see all your current Outlook folders. When you’ve selected a folder, click the Next> button.
Note: You can also choose to backup Outlook contacts, calendar information, notes, and tasks from this prompt.
Step 3. Select the Path Where You Wish to Store Your PST Backup
On the next prompt, browse to find a path to export the Outlook data file to. Or, you can save the file in the default path. If you save the file in the default path, you’ll need to specify whether you want to allow duplicate items. You can also change the file name on this prompt, which is a good idea, because the file name default is: backup.pst. Remember the file name and Outlook PST file location you selected so that you can find your Outlook PST file later.
When you’ve made your selections, click the Finish button at the bottom of the
prompt. You’re prompted to create a password. This is an optional step, but it could
be important if the data you’re backing up is sensitive and needs to be
you’ve exported your selected folder to a PST file, you can check to see
whether the file is there by opening the folder in File Explorer.
4. Find the Outlook PST File and Copy or Move It to a New Location
After you’ve created your backup email file, you can open File Explorer and find the Outlook backup file you just made. You’ll recognize it because the file Type will be Outlook Data File:
- To move a file, simply click on it and drag it into the folder where you want it to be.
- To copy a file, click on the file you wish to copy and press CTRL + C. Open the folder where you wish the file to be and press CTRL + V.
In this case, let’s move some files to a new folder I just created called Testing. After you've moved the file to a new Outlook PST file location, open File Explorer to see your Outlook backup file:
6. Access Your Backup Email File From Outlook
great to be able to create backup files, but they won’t truly helpful to you
until you can open them again in your email account. For this exercise, I’ve
created a backup email file called XYZProject.pst using my other Outlook email account.
I’m going to open that file from my work Outlook email account.
access your Outlook backup file, start from the Outlook Account Information screen. Click
Open & Export > Open Outlook Data
File Explorer opens
to the default location. If you’ve saved your outlook backup file elsewhere,
you’ll need to navigate to the location where your backup PST file is stored. For
this example, I need to navigate to the Testing
folder I created earlier:
Click on the file, then click Open. The system returns to your inbox.
In the navigation panel on the left, you'll see a new category
at the bottom of the panel, below the archives: Outlook Data. This category contains the information from the
backup folder you just opened. To open the file and access your data, click on
the arrow to the left of it. Since the folder I archived was a subfolder of my Inbox folder when I archived it, that
structure was preserved. I also have to click the arrow to the left of the word
can now open the folder to see the emails inside. You can also drag-and-drop
the messages to other email folders.
2. How to Drop and Drag Emails to File Explorer Folders
fast and easy way back up a single email message is to drag it from your
Outlook inbox into a File Explorer folder.
by opening your Outlook folder that contains the message you want to back up.
Then open File Explorer to the
folder where you want to store the backup email message:
Click on the email message and drag it into File Explorer to create a backup email copy:
As you can see, the email we copied into File Explorer is now in my folder as an Outlook Item (not a PST File). If you double-click the item from within File Explorer, the message opens in Outlook.
Method 3. How to Save Outlook Emails as HTML or TXT Files
method of backing up an Outlook message is to save the email as an HTML or TXT
file. This file can then be stored in the cloud. You can even attach the file
to an email message, if you want to.
by opening your Outlook inbox, click on the email message you want to back up
to open it. In the example below, I’m
backing up an email about an invoice:
Note: The invoice attachment won't be backed up
using this method. To back up the attachment, download it, make a copy, and
rename the copy.
Click on the File tab at the top of the screen. The following screen displays:
the left, click the Save As option. File Explorer appears. Select the path
where you want to store your back up email message. At the bottom of the
screen, click the arrow to the right of Save
as type. You’ll see the following drop-down menu with file type options:
Select the file type you want to save the email in.
4. How to Forward Email to Another Email Account
you’ve got another email account, a quick and convenient way to create a backup
copy of an email is to forward it to your other email address. One advantage of
this method is that the attachment will also be forwarded.
by opening the Outlook email you want to back up.
the Forward icon in the Ribbon.
Type one or several email addresses where you want to send the backup email copy.
5. Back Up Outlook Email by Screen Capture
you’ve got screen capture software loaded on your computer, you can take a
screenshot as backup to show that you received a particular email (and what that email said).
method of email back up can be particularly helpful when dealing with technical
support if you want to reference an email you received from them.
Method 6. Use an Email Backup Add-In
We’ve given you a lot of Outlook email backup methods. But, there are also a lot of software tools that can help you with Outlook email backups. Here's a description of just a few of them:
- Dropbox Add-in. If you've got the Dropbox add-in installed, you can share attachments as Dropbox links. You can also save or back up incoming email attachments to Dropbox. Since Dropbox is secure cloud storage, your information will be secure even if something happens to your computer.
- Evernote Add-in. The Evernote add-in lets you clip any Outlook email thread (including attachments). This means that you can access those emails on any device where you can access Evernote. You can also use Evernote to organize your stored emails.
- Microsoft OneNote. Microsoft's notebook and file system, OneNote, can also help you to manage your Outlook messages. If you've got it integrated with Outlook, you can save emails (and their attachments) in folders with any associated files.
- TechHit MessageSave. The MessageSave Add-in for Outlook has a number of helpful Outlook backup features including the ability to meet government standards for email retention. You can also store email messages with other related documents. Store backup Outlook emails in MSG or PDF format.
Learn More About How to Use Outlook Email Effectively
you're a business owner or a business professional, email is an important
communications tool. It's important to make sure your emails are as
professional as possible. These tutorials can help:
- How to Write a More Effective Email (15+ Best Tips & Tricks)Laura Spencer
- How to Properly Write a Formal Email (That Gets Results)Laura Spencer
- Email Marketing10+ Different Types of the Most Effective Marketing EmailsCeline Roque
you need to become better at using MS Outlook, check out the rest of our handy
Outlook Tutorials in the series: What Is MS Outlook? (Pro Email Software
To better manage your email inbox and keep your incoming emails organized, don't forget to sign up to the Tuts+ Business newsletter and grab our free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It's packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.
Not Back Up Your Important Outlook Emails Today?
Now that you've learned how to create MS Outlook backup files, you're ready to set up your system to back up your Outlook emails. You'll be able to access your data even if you lose access to your Outlook account. So, what's keeping you from protecting your Outlook business information? Why not set up your Outlook backup today?