Video: Archive or back up your mailbox

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Use the Import and Export Wizard to back up (archive) your mailbox by exporting it to a file, and restore data by importing it from the file back to your mailbox.

The Import and Export Wizard

  • Outlook has a tool you can use to back up and restore your mailbox called the Import and Export Wizard.

  • To get to it, click the FILE tab > Open & Export > and Import/Export.

  • You back up your mailbox by exporting it to a file on your computer, and then restore data by importing it from the file back to your mailbox. The type of file you export to is an Outlook Data File with a .pst file extension.

  • If you decide you want to switch to manual archiving, you can turn off AutoArchive.

  • Click the FILE tab > Options > Advanced > AutoArchive Settings. Then, uncheck Run AutoArchive every and click OK.

Want more?

Archive older items manually

Outlook has a tool that you can use to backup and restore your mailbox called the Import and Export Wizard. To get to it, click theFILE tab, Open & Export, and Import/Export.

You back up your mailbox by exporting it to a file on your computer and then restore data by importing it from the file back to your mailbox.

To start, we'll select Export to a file and Next. The type of file you export to is an Outlook Data File with a pst file extension. Click Next.

Here, you decide what parts of your mailbox to backup. You could backup just your Inbox, or Contacts, for example.

Click filter to further refine what you export. For example, if I type Contoso, and then click In and Company field only, only contacts that work for Contoso will be backed up. Click Cancel to remove the filter.

In this case, we'll click the email account at the top to export the entire mailbox and make sure to include subfolders.

Click Next and click Browse.

Navigate to a location, type a name for the data file, and click OK.

Next, you can choose one of these options, which deal with the duplicates when you are exporting to an existing data file.

For example, the next time you backup, you can export to the same file and select Do not export duplicates. Then Outlook will only export new mailbox items.

But since we are creating a new data file, it doesn't matter which option we select. Click Finish, add a password to help protect your file if you want, and click OK.

Your entire mailbox has downloaded the Outlook Data file.

Note that this could take a while if you have a large mailbox.

Now, let's look at restoring data.

Let's say you want to retrieve some email that you permanently deleted from your online mailbox.

If the mail is backed up, you can restore it from the backup file.

Click theFILE tab, Open & Export, and Import/Export.

Select Import from another program or file and Next.

Select Outlook Data File and Next.

Click Browse, locate the backup file, and Open. Next, you need to think about how to deal with duplicates. If you are only interested in importing items that were deleted, select Do not import duplicates. Now Outlook won't import items that already exist in your mailbox.

Click Next.

Up here, select the folder to import from.

Since we are only importing non-duplicate items, we could choose the whole file. But think about it, this will replace items that you intentionally deleted. Maybe what you want to do is only import from a specific folder or you can use the filter to get even more specific.

In this case, we'll click the email account at the top, make sure Include subfolders is checked, and finally select Import items into the same folder in and choose your email account. Then, click Finish and the items are added to your account.

If you click Finish and immediately get an error like this, it is because your email provider doesn't support adding items to the mailbox.

If this happens, you can click the FILE tab, Open & Export, and Open Outlook Data File.

Then, select the backup file. It opens in your folder list as a personal folder. Now, you can access the items in your backup file.

Up next, we'll look at a tool you can use to archive your mailbox, AutoArchive.

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