How to Back Up Outlook Emails

By David Weedmark

Backing up your Outlook emails, as well as your contacts and calendars, is a quick and painless process that could save you days, or even weeks of grief, should anything unfortunate happen to your computer. Save your Outlook data to a single PST file that you can password-protect, and then put a copy of this file on an external drive or a secure cloud storage account.

Step 1

Launch Outlook. If you don't want to back up your spam emails, empty the Junk folder. Click the "File" menu. Select "Open & Export" and then click the "Import/Export" option.

Step 2

Select "Export to a File" and click "Next."

Step 3

Select "Outlook Data File (.pst)" and click "Next." PST files can easily be imported into Outlook without loss of data. The CSV format is usually used to export Outlook data into other apps.

Step 4

Select the mail account that you want backed up and click "Next." If you use more than one email account with Outlook, then you will have to repeat this process to back up additional accounts. Note that the "Include Subfolders" option is checked by default to ensure that you back up every folder, including the Inbox and Sent folders, as well as your Contacts and Calendars. While you can select only one subfolder for backup, Outlook doesn't give you the option to back up multiple subfolders at once. You could choose to back up only the "Inbox" or "Sent" subfolder, but you can't back up both into the same PST file.

Step 5

Click "Finish" if you have never created an Outlook backup file before. If you already have a "backup.pst" file on your computer, Outlook writes over the data in that file for the new backup. To keep this backup as a separate file, you can simply rename the file by clicking "backup" and adding the date to the file name, without any spaces, such as "backup-march.pst."

Step 6

Enter a password to protect the backup file and then retype it as prompted. If your computer is secured with a strong password already, you can opt to save the password on your computer by checking the box at the bottom.

Step 7

Launch File Explorer to locate your backup file. Click "Documents" and then "Outlook FIles." Drag the new PST file onto an external drive where you have stored your [Windows backup files]( or into a secure cloud account like OneNote or Google Drive. If your computer is ever lost or destroyed, you can use this second copy of the PST file to restore Outlook.

Tips & Warnings

  • Advanced users can use the "Filter" option in Step 4 to filter emails that are being saved to the PST file. This can be useful if you have already backed up your Outlook data and want an extra copy of specific emails related to a specific project, for example, or want copies of emails that you haven't yet read.