Steps on how to create Microsoft Outlook backup [tutorial]

If you rely too much on Microsoft Outlook for your daily communications, one of the necessary things that you must be aware of is on how to back your Outlook data up. Though Outlook failure is rare, you can still potentially lose everything — emails, calendars, contacts — if your computer or hard drive crash for some reason. To prevent losing Outlook information, you should create a backup of your Outlook data regularly.

This skill is also helpful if you’re moving from an old PC to a new one. This short guide should give you the steps on how to create a backup of Outlook data. The steps below should be applicable for both Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016.

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How to back up Microsoft Outlook 2013 and 2016

All your Outlook information such as contacts, calendars, emails, folders, and more are stored in a single .PST or .OST file on your computer. This allows for easier saving and backing up when the need arises. There are two ways to back your Microsoft Outlook up. To begin creating a backup of your Outlook data, do the steps below.

Create a backup by going directly under Outlook folder

If you want to just copy everything that’s related to your Outlook program, this is the way to go. Here’s how:

Step 1: Navigate to the folder that stores Outloook data file. Using File Explorer, go to C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\. If you can’t find the AppData folder, that means Windows is set Not to show hidden folders, files and drives. You must first allow Windows to show hidden files and folders by going to Control Panel > Folder options / File Explorer options. Once you’re in Folder or File Explorer options, click on View tab, then under Hidden files and folders section, select the circle beside Show hidden files, folders, and drives. After that, make sure to hit Apply button. You can now go back and look for AppData folder.

Alternatively, you can open the AppData folder directly by doing these steps:

  1. Press the Windows key.
  2. Type %appdata%.
  3. Press Enter key.

Once the AppData folder is opened, you can then go to Local > Microsoft > Outlook.

Step 2: Find the .PST  or .OST file. As mentioned above, Outlook files are stored in a single PST or OST file to facilitate easier movement and copying. For this reason, it’s just like any other file that you can copy to another storage device like a flash drive or external hard drive. If you have a cloud service subscription, you can also upload this file there so you have a copy in case your computer’s hard drive fails.

To identify PST and OST files, they are usually named after the email address they’re associated with.  To copy the file, just press CTRL + C and transfer it to a target destination.

Create a backup by using Outlook Export option

This option is basically the same with the first one but if you want to customize what items to copy and leave some behind, this is the one for you.

To start creating a backup, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016.
  2. Click the File menu at the top.
  3. Select Open & Export.
  4. Click the Import/Export button. This will open the Import and Export wizard. Don’t worry, the wizard will walk you through the steps so all you have to do is to read and follow on-screen instructions.
  5. Click Export to open the wizard.
  6. Select Export to a file from the list of actions.
  7. Select Outlook Data File (.pst), and select Next.
  8. Select the mail folder you want to back up and select Next. If you want to only back up an individual folder like the Inbox and leave the rest out, click only that folder before hitting Next. By default, Include subfolders is checked so if you don’t want subfolders under that specific folder, make sure to uncheck the box before hitting next. More advanced filters, including size, flags, and importance ratings, are available via the More Choices and Advanced tabs. When you’re finished setting up your filters, click OK to return to the export menu.
  9. Choose a location and name for your backup file, and then select Finish.
  10. If you want, you can nominate a password to ensure that you only you has access to your file. Just be sure to remember it.

Managing your backup

The PST file that you’ve copied is no different from any ordinary file in your computer. You can copy it to a flash drive, move it to an external hard drive, or upload it to the cloud. Some PST files are quite large, depending on the amount of emails you have so if you plan on forwarding it another email account, that may not be possible.

How to restore an Outlook backup

In the event that you want to use old PST file backups to access old emails, you simply have to import it to your Outlook program.  The steps are similar to the ones when you try to export the PST file. Here’s how:

  1. Open Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016.
  2. Click the File menu at the top.
  3. Select Open & Export.
  4. Click the Import/Export button. This will open the Import and Export wizard. Don’t worry, the wizard will walk you through the steps so all you have to do is to read and follow on-screen intructions.
  5. Click Import to open the wizard.
  6. Click Import from another program or file from the list of actions then hit Next.
  7. Select the Outlook Data File and click Next again. You can click Browse in order to find the file you want to import. Under the Options area, you can choose to replace duplicates or allow them. If you’re trying to import newer emails than the ones in the current system, you can select Replace duplicates. If you’re trying to use an older backup to import, then you can pick Do not import duplicates.
  8. Click Next when done.
  9. Pick what folders to import and their destination. If you’re importing data from one account, you can click on Outlook Data File. you can also select folders or filter the file, like in the previous section.
  10. Once you’re done, click on Finish button.
  11. If file you’re trying to import is password-protected, enter the password to finish the entire process.


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