How to backup emails and contacts in Outlook

Posted: August 17, 2009 in Outlook, System Information

Unless you use an HTTP-based account, such as Yahoo, or a Microsoft Exchange Server email account, all of your data for MSOutlook is stored in a file called thePersonal Folders File, a file with the .pst extension.

This file is responsible for storing messages and other essential items on your PC. Many use the .pst file as the default location for the delivery of their emails. You can also use it to organize data or backup items for safekeeping. Even if you have a Yahoo orMicrosoft Exchange Serveraccount, you can still backup data to the .pst file on your local drive rather than the one stored on the mail server. I will let you know how to backup Outlook pst files.

How to Backup Your Outlook .pst File

To backup the .pst file in its entirety, follow the steps below:

First close any running messaging applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Exchange or Windows Messaging.

– Open the “Start” menu and click “Run”.
– Next, type “Control Panel” in the Open box.
– When the Control Panel opens, click on the Classic view from left and double-click the “Mail” icon .
– Click “Show Profiles”.
– Select the appropriate profile and click “Properties”.
– From there, click on “Data Files”.
– Under “Name”, select the Personal Folders Service to back up.

Though it could be named something else, the default name for this service is Personal Folders. Keep in mind that if your profile has more than one Personal Folders Service, you will have to backup each set of .pst files individually.

Take note that if you do not find any entries called Personal Folders, or if you have not stored any items such as messages, appointments or contacts in Outlook, there is a great chance that your .pst file has yet to be created.

If there is no Personal Folders Services in your profile but you can store items like messages, appointments and contacts in Outlook, this data is probably being stored somewhere else, such as the mail box on the Yahoo or Exchange Server.

To continue with the Outlook pst backup, click on “Settings” and note the path and file name that is displayed. Since the .pst file typically contains all the data the Outlook client uses, this file tends to be very large. To reduce the Outlook pst file size, select “Settings” and click “Compact Now”.

To finish up, close down all the “Properties” windows.

You can use either My Computer or the Windows Explorer utility to copy the file path you noted above. The .pst file can then be copied to another location on your local hard drive or any form of removable storage media such as a floppy disk, compact disc or a portable hard drive.


Performing an Outlook .pst backup is a relatively easy task. The key is to know how to locate the file and thankfully there are many ways to go about this task. If you do not feel comfortable manually backing up your .pst file, rest assured that there are a variety of software tools that will automate the process and make it much easier.

  1. Kenneth says:

    Hey Ignited Soul, i gained lots of information n knowledge from this source. thanks a lot… all these days i was strugglin wit maintainin my email contacts. This is the best place i’ve found so far through all my searches, where all my queries have been resolved. Guys, I honestly recommend u this site… wholesome Knowledge. Thanks again.

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