What to backup in Outlook 2013

Last reviewed on December 17, 2013

Where is my Microsoft Outlook data stored? Where are my contacts? How do I backup my calendar?

Those are common questions Outlook users ask.

Everything in your Outlook folders are either in a mailbox on an Exchange Server or Outlook.com or in Personal Folders .pst files, or if you use IMAP, they might be in "this computer only" folders on your computer.

There is no backup process built into Outlook. To back up, simply exit Outlook, then copy the files you want to back up. Below we provide a chart of Outlook 2013 file locations, followed by notes on particular files. Note that unlike older versions of Outlook, many configuration files are stored in the mailbox or PST in the newer versions of Outlook.

If you are want to copy back and forth between machines so you can use the same information at the office and at home, for example. you'll need to copy at least the pst file. If you have Outlook profiles, name them the same on both machines, so you can use the same files easily. Use File tab > Open > Outlook Data Files to open the pst files that you copied.

See Moving Microsoft Outlook to a New Computer for the steps needed to move Outlook files to a new computer.

See How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) for the proper way to move IMAP and Internet Subscription folders. Note: you need to use the ForcePSTPath key, not ForceOSTPath key with IMAP accounts in Outlook 2013, even though they use OST files now.

If you dual-boot, your profile can point to the same .pst and .ost files (stored in a location both OS's can see), but you would need to copy other files to the correct location on the second operating system. Note that if you dual boot, you should use the same version of Outlook on both partitions for best results.

Windows File Locations | Personal Folders Files | Offline Folders File
Other Files | Accounts | Personal Folders Backup Utility | Tools | Notes | More Information

Windows File Locations

Where do you find these files? You can always start by using Windows Search to locate the particular file types. You may need to browse to Windows Explorer's Organize | Folder and Search Options | View tab and select Show hidden files and folders. In Windows 8, look for the Show Hidden files setting on Windows Explorer's View ribbon.

New Personal Folders Files (*.pst) are created in the Outlook Files folder in your My Documents folder.

You'll find Outlook stores the *.ost, *.oab, and extend.dat, in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.

POP3 data files can be moved easily be moved to other locations, while you need to use specific steps to move Exchange, Outlook.com, and EAS data files. See How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) for the proper way to move IMAP and Internet Subscription folders.

All other Outlook configuration files are stored in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook and cannot be moved.

Tip: Type or paste the following lines into Windows 7's Start menu "Start Search" field or in the address bar of Windows Explorer to open these folders:

To access the folder holding the toolbar, VBA, send & receive settings, and nickname files, copy and paste:
%Appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

To see the *ost, *.oab files, copy and paste:
%Localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

Note: Storing Personal Folders on an network file share is not recommended and may cause corruption and data loss.

Type of FileFilename or ExtensionOutlook Profile SpecificFolder path under C:\Users\<user>\AppData\
Personal Folders (including SharePoint Lists).pst New profiles: pst files for POP3 accounts are created in your My Documents\Outlook Files folder.

If you are using a profile created in an older version of Outlook, pst files are in Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (default, but .pst files can be anywhere on system)

Offline folders used by Exchange server, Outlook.com, and IMAP..ost Local\Microsoft\Outlook
RSS feeds in Outlook 2013.sharing.xml.obiXLocal\Microsoft\Outlook
Installed Add-insextend.dat \Local\Microsoft\Outlook
This file does not need to be backed up, Outlook will create a new copy.
Nicknames for AutoCompleteNow stored in the Mailbox or Personal folders file. Also stored in an autocomplete stream file in the Local\Microsoft\Outlook folder.
Customized print settingsOutlPrnt Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Customized Ribbon & QAT settingsolk*.officeUI Local\Microsoft\Office\
Navigation bar customizations.xml filesXRoaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Send/Receive group settings.srs filesXRoaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Macros and VBA programsVbaProject.otm Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Signatures.rtf, .htm, and .txt filesX\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures
Stationery.htm files \Roaming\Microsoft\Stationery
Templates.oft files \Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
Dictionary.dic files \Roaming\Microsoft\Proof
Outlook Safe and Blocked senders listsStored in message store as a hidden message Can export each list to a text file as backup. Tools, Options, Junk Email options. Export each list separately.

Personal Folders Files

If you are not connecting to Microsoft Exchange Server or Outlook.com, your Outlook data is stored in one or more Personal Folders (.pst) files. If you use IMAP accounts, you can use a personal folders file for calendar and contacts or folders in the IMAP ost file.

Outlook 2013 creates new *.pst files in your My Documents folder, in a folder named Outlook Files. This will make it easier for you to backup your mail.

If you upgraded from an older version and did not make a new profile or pointed the new profile to the old *.pst files, check the properties for Personal Folders in File tab | Account Settings | Data Files tab to determine the exact location on your system.

Some people like to export a folder, such as Contacts, to a separate backup .pst file. That's fine for the data, but it does not back up any folder customizations such as views and custom forms. If you want to back up those, too, copy the entire folder to a new .pst file instead of using the export feature.

Also see:

Offline Folders File

If you use Microsoft Exchange Server in cached mode, Outlook.com, or an IMAP account, you have an offline folders (.ost) file, one for each account. You don't need to back it up, since you can always refresh it by synchronizing with the server. However, be sure you understand the procedure for Convert an Exchange Offline file (OST) to a Personal Folders file (PST). If something ever goes wrong with your mailbox, this technique can save time and information, but you must do it before you try to connect to the server again.

Ribbon and QAT

Beginning with Outlook 2010, the ribbon is customizable and it and the quick access toolbar (QAT) can be exported from the Outlook interface (File, Options, Customize Ribbon), either to share with other computers or users or as a backup.

The ribbon and QAT customizations are stored in olk*.officeUI files at C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office. Each Outlook item type that has a customized ribbon will have an office.UI file.

Personal Address Book

Personal Address Books are not supported in Outlook 2013. If you have a PAB, the contents need be imported into your Contacts folder.

To Import the *.pab, go to File Tab | Open | Import. Choose Import from another program or file, then scroll down and choose Personal Address Book.

Other Files

Outlprnt file contains your custom print settings. This does not need to be backed up.

Some other miscellaneous files, not necessarily worth backing up:

  • Extend.dat -- Information about installed add-ins. Will be recreated if you delete it.
  • Outitems.log -- Outlook items to be placed automatically in the Journal
  • Offitems.log -- Office items to be placed automatically in the Journal
  • Frmcache.dat -- Outlook forms cache file. See How the Microsoft Outlook forms cache works.

Accounts

Account information is held in the user's Windows registry, not in a file, at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Profiles. Note: Outlook 2013 moves the profile from Windows Messaging Subsystem.

While you could export this key, its not generally recommended because it contains absolute paths to files (in your user account folders) and information about installed add-ins. If the path is not exactly the same when you restore it, the profile will be corrupt.
 

Using the Microsoft Personal Folders Backup Utility

In order to use the Microsoft Personal Folder Backup utility with Outlook 2013 32bit, you need to add the following key to your Registry.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\Addins\Microsoft.OutlookBackup.1
DWORD: RequireShutdownNotification
Value: 1

Ready to use reg file: RequireShutdownNotification

How to enable Personal Folders Backup add-in to work with Outlook 2010 (MSKB)

Tools in the Spotlight

OutlookBackupPro

Backup, restore and migrate your Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 data and settings easily with OutlookBackupPro. OutlookBackupPro is pre-configured to save all important Outlook files and settings - you do not have to go through a list of configuration steps with this software. Just backup - restoring is as easy as creating a backup: select what to restore, and OutlookBackupPro does the rest.

Tools

ABF Outlook Backup

Backup and restore Outlook data files, interface options, and settings. Backup and restore operations can be run from the command line, with your favorite Windows scheduling program for unattended operation. Supports Outlook 2010, 2007, 2003, 2002, and 2000.

BackRex Outlook Backup

BackRex Outlook Backup is a backup and restore tool for Microsoft Outlook. It allows you to backup address book, mail and other folders, mail accounts, message rules, signatures, stationery, and all personal settings. Backup jobs can be scheduled to run on a regular basis. Supports Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010.

Backup Outlook

Save all your Outlook settings including Emails, Contacts, Tasks, your Calendar, Notes, Journal entries, Email accounts, Outlook rules, Signatures and many more

Backup Outlook Data Files using a Batch (.bat)

How to use a Windows batch file to backup your Outlook data files.

BackupMyFolder!

With BackupMyFolder! For Outlook, you will be enable to configure in one click the folders you want to backup, configure when to do the job and get a full history of previous backup runs. BackupMyFolder! for Outlook 200x and 2007 is FREE

Folder Backup for Outlook

Use Folder Backup to preserve Microsoft Outlook data, with 1-Click Backup from Microsoft Outlook toolbar and manual backup when needed. Instant backup and recovery of a selected Outlook folder in just a few clicks. Restore only those items that have been removed or updated. Compatible with Windows 8, Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365. Free and Pro versions available.

MessageExport for Outlook

MessageExport for Outlook is an add-in that helps you get your email out of Outlook in particular way. MessageExport lets you save selected or new email messages to different formats, including PDF, EML, MSG, GIF, TIF, HTML, MHT, CSV, txt, and others. MessageExport can convert, name and save Outlook email in a single operation. Includes a timer function, so MessageExport can run every xx minutes to process new emails in a specific Outlook folder and save it in text format, on a network folder.

OutBack Plus

Backup your Outlook Personal Folders (.pst files) in a compressed, zip compatible, archive for a smaller and more easily managed file. All of your critical Outlook control files are included in the backup - Signatures, Stationery, Wizard Rules, etc are preserved for easy recovery. OutBack Plus allows you to restore the backup data to the same or another machine. Automatic reminder to backup after a set number of days - according to your needs. Also backs up Documents and Desktop folders, Internet Explorer Favorites, Cookies, offline folders and Firefox Browser data. Works with all versions of Outlook, including Outlook 2010 32- and 64-bit.

Outlook Backup Email

Outlook Backup Emails is a handy tool to backup and restore Microsoft Outlook .pst files . The backup can be done manual or automatic at specified time intervals. It also work with Outlook Express and other email clients, and can be a good tool to move between pcs the Microsoft Outlook email by unexperienced users.

Safe PST Backup

Backup Outlook PST files automatically using Safe PST Backup. It is a user-friendly Free tool to back up and archive email. Create backup of Contacts, Calendar, Tasks or other Microsoft Outlook Personal folders with a few clicks. The backup will be done in the background regardless of whether Outlook is running or not. Safe PST Backup solution uses incremental backup model to back up and transfer only changes made to Outlook items. Schedule and automatically back up Outlook at specified time intervals or back up selected PST files manually. Get more with Enterprise Edition. Version 2.20

Stellar Phoenix Mail Backup

An efficient mail back up utility which allows to backup all the objects like emails, contacts, notes, calendars etc. in Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Mail in most safe manner. The mail backup utility provides option to take incremental, differential and full backup and allows you to save backup at any location. Some of the other main features of backup software are : schedule backup process, preview of emails which could be recovered, feature to restore complete as well as selected emails etc.. Moreover backup software works with Windows mail and different versions of Outlook and Outlook express like 2010 (32 bit), 2007, 2003, 2002.

Notes

If your network is set up so that you can use Outlook at any machine ("roaming profiles"), your Outlook files may be in a different location. Try using Start | Find to locate each type of file. If you don't see any .pst files after you search, you may need to adjust the settings in Windows Explorer to show hidden and system files. Choose Tools | Folder Options, then switch to the View tab, and select Show hidden files and folders.

Personal Folders .pst files are among the files that are normally not included in a Windows 2000 (or later) offline files synchronization. However, you can edit the system policy that controls the file types so that .pst files can be included. See Error Message Files of This Type Cannot Be Made Available Offline.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

5 responses to “What to backup in Outlook 2013”

  1. Rich

    Hi Diane,

    How do you recommend backing up the data on my Hosted Exchange Account. I realize it's usually the administrator's job... but I'm concerned with two things:

    First - what if the company hosting my Exchange Account shuts down.

    Second - what if I accidentally delete or change data that I'd like to retrieve from an earlier date.

    Currently, each week, I export each of my Hosted Exchange Accounts to a .pst file. I personally hate manually doing it... and I'm not sure if its the best solution.

    Any advice?

    Thanks,
    - Rich364 -

  2. Rich364

    As I look to automate my outlook data backup process, If I included my ost files in my automatic hard drive backup process... and I wish to open one of the old ost files (so I could find information that I may have updated at some point in error... like over-writing a correct contact phone number or I may have accidentally deleted an attachment within a task)... You mention I could open the old ost if I had the account that created it (I'm not sure what you mean exactly) and I'd need a commercial program to export the data to a pst (do you have a program you'd recommend?).

    Again, thank you so much for your help and experience.

  3. Rich364

    ok... thank you.

Leave a Reply

If the Post Coment button disappears, press your Tab key.