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How to Backup Outlook pst files

It always helps to be pre-paired. Backing up your Outlook PST file is a must for any one who depends on Outlook. Having an off site backup is a must in case your computer get's stolen by your raving stalker, burnt to a crisp or decides to go for a swim. We will cover a few free options below and some other helpful tips for fellow Outlook users.

In this section we will be discussing how to backup your PST file.

  • Manually copy the PST file

The easiest way to backup your PST file is to simply copy it to another location. In Windows XP, the PST file is located at:

C:/Documents and Settings/%username%/Local Settings/Application Data/Microsoft/Outlook/

In Windows Vista and Windows 7, this location is:


All you have to do is copy this file from the above location to another file or folder, external hard drive, USB flash drive, or optical drive such as CD-ROM.

To restore the data from this file in case of a system crash, open Outlook and go to ‘File’ – ‘Data File Management’ and select the ‘Data File’ tab. Browse for your backup file and open it.

  • Use your PST file from a different location

Normally when Windows crashes it is the files and folders on the C drive which get corrupted. So it is a good measure to move your PST file to a different drive and set the Outlook path for the data file to that drive. To do this, first close Outlook, then relocate the PST file from the default folder mentioned above, restart outlook and browse for the new location when the prompt comes up.

It is also a good idea to rename the old Outlook file with a different extension so that you can restore it in case something happens to the relocated file.

  • Import and Export

Microsoft Outlook contains a feature that allows users to export their personal folders and re-import them later. You can use this method to export your PST file to a different secure location on your hard disk and re-import it in case of a system crash. To export your PST file, in Outlook go to ‘File’ – ‘Import and Export’. In the dialogue box that comes up, choose ‘Export to a File’. In the next window that comes up, choose ‘Personal Folder File (.pst)’. In the next dialogue box, choose the folders that you want to export. Keep the ‘Include subfolders’ checkbox ticked to ensure that all your folders and subfolders are included in the exported file. In the next window that comes up, choose a filename for the exported file and browse for its new location.

To import from the backed up file, go to ‘File’ – ‘Import and Export’, then choose ‘Import from another program or file’ from the Dialogue box. Next, choose ‘Personal Folder File (.pst)’. Browse for your backup file and import it. This way all the settings that were included in your old file will be applied to Outlook.

Microsoft has provided a free Add-in for Outlook which allows you to backup your PST file at the click of a button. Simply download and install the add-in known as Personal Folders Backup from Microsoft. This adds a new option titled ‘Backup’ to the ‘File’ menu. This handy tool allows you to choose which files and folders to backup, as well as the frequency of scheduled backups.

You can also you a few different auto backup programs such as Acronis, Migo, or even the free built in Windows Backup software. Just keep in mind that the free Windows backup needs to be looked after more then paid backup software. you should check the first few times to ensure the program did fully backup your pst file and continue to check every month or so. I have had the Widnows backup program quite on me many times for no reason and I had to re-set it up. That is why I now use the online backup program mentioned above.

For other great information check out the PST File Repair home page. You may also be interested in this pst software repair article