If you’re using Outlook, it’s not that easy to save your email.
Just want to backup your email? click here
This article is for people using Outlook. The examples given relate to Outlook 2003 but Outlook 2007 (and later) shouldn’t be too different.
There are many reasons to save your email. Sometimes computers crash irrecoverably. Sometimes they get replaced with new ones before they crash irrecoverably, and sometimes they get replaced anyway. In these cases you often end up with a new computer; and no email.
What if your email had all of your account and password details carefully saved within it? What if you’d just received a binding quote from a builder to do some work? (“How much did I agree to pay for this?”) What if your wife had emailed you a wish list for her birthday? Suffice to say you don’t need the crises that lost email brings ….
Some businesses have triple redundant systems that you wouldn’t believe. Everything is copied to secondary (and tertiary) servers as it happens. Nothing can be lost. Yet even they do backups. You need to balance the costs with the benefits. If you save your email more often then it takes more effort on your part. If you save more often then there is less you will lose. It becomes a matter of “How much can I afford to lose?” and “How hard is it to save?” Pick something that works for you.
Weekly would be a good starting point. Use this or vary it up or down depending on your needs.
Saving email on your computer does give some level of safety. If Outlook crashes and takes its data files with it, you’ll still have your saved copies. If you get an error on your hard disk(s) there is a chance that you’ll still be able to read the copies.
Having said all that, if you have two hard disks store the saved email on the other disk (typically drive D:). If you have a couple of computers connected in a home (or business) network, save your email on the other computer. If one totally dies you can still retrieve the information from the other one.
Alright, So How?
Using just Outlook, you can save your email in a number of different formats.
Click File, Import and Export
The “Import and Export Wizard” appears. Choose “Export to a file” and click “Next”
The “Export to a File” window appears. Choose “Personal Folder File (.pst)” and click “Next”.
You will see an “Export Personal Folders” window. Choose “Personal Folders”, check the “Include subfolders” option, and then click “Next”.
Outlook then asks you where to save your email. Click Browse to choose a location. Ideally this would be on another computer, on a USB external disk drive or, at least, on another disk in your computer. If you only have one disk saving a copy is still better than not saving your email. By default, Outlook chooses to call the file “backup” but you can use a different name if you like BUT keep the “.pst” on the end.
Some people add the date to the backup name (e.g. “backup2009-01-31.pst”). That way they can have multiple backup files which can be useful if you deleted an important email and only realized it was important after you’d backed up. (It’s still in the older backup.)
You can also use the same file again and again. Check “Do not export duplicate items” so that Outlook won’t add extra copies of emails already in that file.
If this is a new file, you’re not finished yet even though you just clicked “Finish”
You will see a “Create Microsoft Personal Folders” window with a number of choices. My preference is to select “No encryption” as: it is more likely to be importable into something else; and I don’t have to choose and remember yet another password.
Choosing “Save this password …” is not going to do you any good if your computer dies and can’t remember anything it saved for you.
If you are more concerned about security than just safety you should choose one of the other choices. In that case, I would opt for “Compressible Encryption” as I prefer smaller files.
Once you’ve made your choice and entered a password if applicable, click “Ok”.
Very little appears to happen at this point but if you open Windows Explorer and look in the directory you chose, you will see your backup.
The Easier Way
If you have to do this every week then you’ll probably get very good at it; but it is a lot of work.